Bitter is Better
|Radicchio Ready to Roast|
Our palates are genetically wired to pick up the 5 tastes of food--sweet, sour, salty, bitter, and umani, and while some of us may prefer one dominant taste over another, we use all of our taste buds to savor and enjoy our food.
Interestingly, as we age, we have fewer taste buds, so we're more likely to prefer stronger tasting foods--even crave them--which could be why I love bitter foods so much.
Sure, just like everyone else, I had radicchio--that deep reddish purple, white veined leaf that looks like red cabbage, but is from the chicory family--but honestly, I'd never really tasted it. It was usually sparingly tossed in among a variety of lettuces and other vegetables, and of course, doused with salad dressing. It was only one of the many supporting members of my salad bowl--certainly not the star.
Then one night, Mr. B surprised me with a sensational dinner of spatchcock chicken and grilled radicchio and I was floored. He'd expertly marinated the radicchio in a simple vinaigrette of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic, mustard and herbs, and then grilled it on the flat top until it was a wilted, caramelized pile of deliciousness.
Since then, this magnificent bitter leafy-chicory has made its way from a supporting component of the salad bowl to the star of the show. It's perfect for a winter meal, whether roasted or grilled until its bitterness mellows, or thinly sliced and tossed with sweet oranges, toasted hazelnuts and crumbled blue cheese.
Curious what bitter can do for your palate? Give Mr. B's recipe a try. Later this month, I'll post my recipe for a healthy salad full of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, starring my favorite bitter leaf--radicchio.
Mr. B's Roasted Radicchio
4 heads of radicchio, cleaned and halved
1 cup olive oil
1/3 cup of white or red balsamic vinegar
1 and 1/2 tablespoons of Dijon mustard
2 teaspoon of sugar or pure maple syrup
1/2 a lemon, juiced
3 garlic cloves, pressed
1. Put the mustard, garlic, lemon juice and sugar into a bowl.
2. Whisk in the olive oil, a little at a time, until the mixture thickens and emulsifies.
3. Add salt and pepper to taste.
4. Place the cut radicchio in a nonreactive glass or porcelain baking dish, cut side down and pour the vinaigrette over the tops. Turn to coat completely.
5. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for an hour or two, turning to coat occasionally.
6. Roast in a preheated 425 degree oven, turning until wilted and caramelized, or place over hot coals and grill until wilted.
7. Serve warm with a drizzle of vinaigrette and chopped parsley.