Radicchio di Treviso is the Queen of the blushing winter salad crops, and she meets her match with a pugnacious anchiovy dressing. The pinstriped pink and white leaves shoot forth from a thickly stubbed root. They’re crisp as candy canes, slender as a finger and curl like fern fronds at the tip. A generous bowlful is glorious served alongside a fish-based main. If you can’t find the Treviso variety in your local market, substitute with any other bitter red leaf. And if you really want to lush out, warm up the anchiovy dressing before pouring it over and tossing.
Radicchio di Treviso with Anchiovy Dressing
No time for reading? Scroll down to the bottom for the recipe.
We love radicchio in all its forms, and the Treviso is one of my favourites. There are actually two varieties, the precoce and the tardivo, both of which undergo a fussy harvesting process so as to ensure that wonderful whiteness. Consequently, the Treviso is not the most economical bunch of radicchio on sale in the markets, but I find it hard to resist. Is it the shape of the leaves that draws me in? Their noodle-like magnetism, long and thin? It certainly has something to do with it, as does the captivating crunch. And then there’s the versatility: they’re just as delectable cooked – stir-fried and wilted – as they are served fresh with a pugent sauce. The anchiovy dressing is not a new creation by any means: it’s a traditional way to serve the Treviso, born of perfection.
If you’ve spent a lifetime priortising sweetness over all the flavours, then you might find the taste of bitter leaves a little challenging. Bear with it, I urge you. Get your Sugar Dragon under control, and let your tastebuds expand into new territory. As the Italians have long known, once you develop a taste for bitter, it’s difficult to let go.
The trick is to balance the bitter with other flavours, and this is why the anchiovy dressing works so well. The anchiovy is salty and intense, the garlic adds a little heat, the extra virgin coats each leaf with an oily film, and the whole lot pricks your taste buds into a state of attention. All this, and gorgeous to boot.
As always, buy the best quality ingredients you can afford. Choose lovely, tight fisted bunches of radicchio, not too big. And hunt around to find anchiovies preserved in olive oil. Needless to say, cold-pressed extra virgin, and fresh garlic to taste.
On the Side
The 5 Essential Ingredients of a Great Marinade – The principle works for salad dressings, as well.
Apple Chutney, Quick and Easy – It’s fresh, spicy, and AIP comliant.
Better than Waldorf – A Main Dish Salad – Who doesn’t love a crunchy meal in a bowl? AIP compliant, but if you’re not AIP, toss in some walnuts as well!
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- 6 anchiovies
- 1 clove garlic
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 500 grams radicchio di Treviso
- Place the anchiovies in a small frypan over a very low heat and stir and mash them until they've dissolved.
- Crush the garlic clove with the back of a knife, discard the skin, and mince very finely.
- Add the garlic to the anchiovy and keep stirring and mashing until you have a thick paste.
- Add the lemon juice and olive oil and mix well. Leave to sit, allowing the flavours to mingle, while you prepare the radicchio.
- Snap the radicchio leaves off at the base. Give them a quick rinse and pat dry with paper towel.
- Place in a large bowl, pour over the dressing and toss well so that each leaf is coated with the dressing.