This salad is as delicious as it is beautiful.
I made it a few weeks ago on a hot august night when I really didn’t want to do much cooking. I love figs and try, come august and september, to find as many ways to eat them as possible. Wrapping them with proscuitto and fresh mozzarella, folding them into creme fraiche tarts, or just eating them with a little honey and greek yogurt.
When I’m buying them at the store i always look for figs that feel a bit heavy for their size, and know they’re especially sweet when they’re oozing a bit of their sugary juices from around their stems.
This is a pretty simple low maintenance salad, if you don’t mind doing a bit of lite grilling. Grilling the radicchio really brings out its sweetness, and blanching them in cold water beforehand minimizes their often bitter flavor. And the cheese I use here, oh the cheese! Its a keeper and should be added to everyone’s list of fabulous cheeses (you don’t have such a list? What’s wrong with you!). Beemster goat gouda is one of my favorite cheeses. It has the unmistakable flavor of goat cheese, yet its a semi-firm cheese thats creamy and a bit salty. It goes perfectly with sweet fruits, and is particularly good with fig jam.
First you want to cut your head of radicchio in half, then in quarters, and finally into eight wedges. The stalk should still be in place so that it holds the wedge together.
Preheat your grill on high, keeping the lid closed.
Next you’re going to soak, or I used the fancy term “blanch” earlier, the radicchio in ice water for at least 10 minutes and up to 30 minutes. This removes some of its bitterness so that the focus is on the sweetness of the radicchio
Pat the radicchio dry and drizzle with a generous amount of olive oil, a little coarse salt and black pepper.
Grill for about 3 minutes per side, until the outer leaves have a bit of charred color on them.
Using a potato peeler, cut thin curls of cheese, and then quarter your figs. I also had a little red onion on hand, that I decided to use. I then gently placed all the components on each plate: the radicchio, some mixed greens i had on hand to add a bit of green color, quartered figs, cheese shavings, and a few thin slices of red onion. I drizzled it all with a bit of balsamic glaze*, a little more olive oil, sea salt, and pepper.
* if you don’t have a thick balsamic glaze, you can reduce your balsamic vinegar to make a glaze. Start with 1/2 cup of the vinegar in a small saucepan and reduce on medium high heat, by about 1/2. Don’t push it too far, or it will taste more like molasses. I add a tiny bit of honey to it at the end. OR, you could also take 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar and add 1 Tbsp of fig jam, and while whisking add 1/2 cup olive oil, 1/4 tsp salt and fresh pepper. That would make a really fabulous salad dressing as well!
Hope you’re able to try this!
Fig, Beemster goat gouda and grilled radicchio salad (serves 4)
1 pint ripe black mission figs
2 heads radicchio
1 cup mixed greens, or baby romaine
1/2 small red onion
1 small wedge beemster goat gouda, or fresh goat cheese would work well too
coarse salt and pepper