Sunday, 16 March 2014

Technicolor Temptation

Insalata di Radicchio, Coriandolo & Piselli
Radicchio, Coriander and Sugar-Snap Pea Salad

Radicchio is one of those vegetables that polarizes- people either seem to love it or hate it, but there is very little going on in-between those two extremes. The comment I most often hear is "but it is so bitter!"- and this, of course, is when I roll my mind's eye and think to myself "what-EVAH". Because of course, being Sicilian, I love almost everything bitter. Fortunately, I have compassion on occasion with my friends who are not so keen on the bitter stuff and try out different ways to prepare it so that they too might enjoy it. I like to think it is all a matter of balance.

And so, feeling experimental this evening, I decided to pair this beautiful, bitter, Radicchio Trevisano with young, sweet and tender sugar-snap peas and refreshing coriander/cilantro. As a "catalyst" to help unite the flavors even better, I made a dressing out of peanut butter, mustard, honey, lemon juice and vinegar. I just thought it would work for some reason. I am glad I thought it- because I then tried it... and in the end thoroughly enjoyed it! Even more than I normally would have!

The basic ingredients are right here- a small Trevisano, a Spring onion, a good handful of sugar-snap peas, a little cilantro and those few ingredients for the dressing that I already mentioned- and the dressing is the most important part of all this- so that is the first thing we need to make!

For the dressing I mixed equal parts of mustard and smooth peanut butter- in this case a teaspoon of each. To this I added a tablespoon of red wine vinegar and the juice of half a lemon. I added 4 tablespoons of olive oil, a pinch of salt and pepper and that was basically it.

To mix the dressing, I used a small jar- this is one of those things that is much easier to simply give a good shake to get it totally smooth and creamy. A whisk, or failing that a fork is also fine if you want to just mix it in a bowl... but the jar thing is easy and fun... as long as you have that lid screwed-on tightly!

As for the radicchio- it just needed washing, separating the leaves, spinning them dry and arranging them decoratively on a serving dish. Of course this is purely optional and it can, in principle, all just get tossed together in a bowl... but seriously- who could resist doing this when it is so easy to do and looks so beautiful? Not I- and that's for sure!

I sliced up the sugar-snap peas into a fine "Julienne" and the onion also into very thin diagonal slices and stacked these up on top of the radicchio. Simple. And already even more beautiful-but then came the creamy golden dressing to make it even more luscious and lovely- what a treat for the eyes!

The finishing touch was a generous scattering of coriander leaves- these need to wait until the end as they are very delicate. Of course the salad does need to be mixed a little more thoroughly before eating- but that can take place after it has been served up... so serve it up soon because it is hard being patient with food that looks as amazing as this!

And I do have to say- it IS the combination of flavors that does the trick here- the sweet and the sour, the nuttiness of the peanut butter and the savory tang of the mustard and onion- then of course the sweetness of the honey and delicious fresh crunch of the radicchio and the peas... I really have to say, even to you my dear friends that think that radicchio is simply not for you... maybe prepared this way you might reconsider...

I certainly hope so! It is simply too delicious to be missed-out on! Enjoy!

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