Recipe: Castelfranco Radicchio Salad
A sophisticated take on the dinner salad, from Chef Gabe McMackin of The Finch.
We’ll allot plenty of dinner planning to a main dish and sides. The salad becomes an afterthought, usually consisting of bagged lettuce and a drizzle of dressing. This Castelfranco radicchio salad by Gabe McMackin, chef/owner of the Michelin-starred restaurant The Finch in Brooklyn, is not going to take the backseat to a roasted chicken. Here, Chef McMackin gives us a simplified version perfect for a weeknight. (Steps one and three can be done a day ahead, making it even easier.) Radicchio has detractors owing to its bitter taste, but the key is tempering and complementing it. In this case, the fruit, a fragrant vinaigrette and a delightful red beet-brined egg take the edge off. Can't find Castelfranco? Try Traviso red radicchio, which is a great source of vitamin K and not only that: Researchers in Italy discovered it contains an antioxidant phytochemical that helps with gut health. If you love it, you can summer-fy the recipe when the radicchio isn’t available by subbing in bitter greens like watercress and endive, both good sources of calcium.
- 1 medium red beet, peeled and sliced
- 2 organic, free-range eggs, cold
- 7 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 4 Tbsp fish sauce (preferably colatura)
- 3 Tbsp aged balsamic vinegar
- 1 Tbsp aged Pedro Ximénez Sherry vinegar
- 1 Meyer lemon
- 1 medium head Castelfranco radicchio, leaves separated and torn (can substitute Traviso radicchio, or another chicory here)
- 1 Anjou or Bartlett pear, thinly sliced
- 1 small bunch parsley, stems removed, roughly chopped
- 5 to 10 basil leaves, torn in half
- ¼ cup toasted pumpkin seeds
- ¼ lb Bayley Hazen Blue Cheese, thinly sliced
In a pot over high heat, boil 1 quart water; add 1 Tbsp salt, freshly ground black pepper and beet, and cook until liquid is very red, 10 minutes. Strain beet brine into a glass jar or bowl and let cool, a few hours or overnight.
- When you’re ready to make the salad, in a pot over medium-high heat, boil eggs, 6½ minutes. Transfer eggs to an ice bath, peel and place in beet brine.
In a small bowl or jar, whisk together olive oil, fish sauce, vinegars, and lemon juice and salt to taste.
In a large bowl, toss together radicchio, pear, herbs and 2 Tbsp pumpkin seeds. Season with freshly ground black pepper, zest from the lemon and ¼ cup vinaigrette and toss again.
On two plates, build a little nest of radicchio, add a slice of cheese, and top with additional salad. Remove eggs from brine, slice and place atop salad. Sprinkle with remaining 2 Tbsp pumpkin seeds, and finish with sea salt and additional vinaigrette, if desired.