Salad of the Month: Valentine's Day Roasted Radicchio with Pomegranate Seeds
Instead of making a sweet and chocolatey treat for Valentine's Day, I decided to do the opposite and make something with a complex, bitter flavor. Why bitter, you may ask? According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, each flavor (sweet, sour, bitter, pungent and salty) nourishes a different organ. Bitter-tasting foods nourish the heart, so I thought it fitting to include a recipe that would benefit the heart on a day when we are encouraged to express our love.
In this salad the radicchio is roasted, and its bitter flavor is balanced by a reduced balsamic dressing and a generous sprinkle of nutty Parmesan cheese, plus some plump, juicy pomegranate seeds to finish it off. Besides being super-tasty and pretty to look at with its deep purple, pink and red colors, this salad is a snap to put together — although you wouldn't know it from the impressive flavor combination.
Here the balsamic vinegar is reduced to create the consistency of a good aged balsamic and to concentrate the flavor. If you have some aged balsamic that’s thick and syrupy, then you can use 2 tablespoons of it in place of the reduced vinegar.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. Cut each radicchio in half from top to bottom. Cut each half into 3 wedges and lay on prepared baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and a large pinch of salt and pepper, and gently toss to coat in oil. Roast for 25 minutes or until browning. Remove from oven and set aside.
Add balsamic vinegar to a small skillet over high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cook for 25 to 30 minutes or until vinegar has thickened and reduced to 2 tablespoons. Pour into a small bowl and whisk in olive oil and a pinch of salt. Set aside.
Place 3 wedges of roasted radicchio on each of 4 plates. Divide Parmesan and pomegranate seeds over the radicchio and drizzle each salad with a tablespoon of dressing. Top with cracked pepper and serve.