This Radicchio and Pear Salad is bursting with contrasting colours and flavours! An enticing mix of bright crimson, bitter radicchio, sweet green pears and roasted hazelnuts makes an autumnal salad that will blow you away!
This Pear and Radicchio Salad is perfect for autumn entertaining with its vibrant crimson hues and fruity Verjuice dressing. The radicchio's slight bitterness is balanced with a tangy vinaigrette dressing, while the sweetness of the pears provides a delightful contrast; add in some crunchy roasted hazelnuts, and you have a salad that is sure to please.
Ingredients and Substitutions
- Radicchio - used for its bright colour and bitterness. You may replace it with other bitter greens such as endive or arugula/rocket.
- Pears - we have used firm green pears here for a colour contrast, but if you are using a green bitter green, you may like to swap the green for a red variety instead. But make sure that your pears are firm; otherwise, they will fall apart.
- Roasted Hazelnuts - for some nutty crunchiness and depth of flavour, try some roasted walnuts, almonds or pecans if you prefer.
- Verjuice Vinaigrette - for its tart sweetness to tone down the bitterness of the radicchio. If you are unable to find verjuice, then replace it with seasoned rice vinegar or with either lemon juice or dry white wine vinegar with ¼ teaspoon of honey or maple syrup for sweetness. The hazelnut can be swapped for extra olive oil, and you can use some Dijon mustard if you can't find the whole grain.
Consider Adding - Some crumbled blue cheese, gorgonzola cheese, creamy goat's cheese or shaved pecorino. For some added festive colour, add some pomegranate seeds.
How to Make It
Step 1 - Prepare Ingredients.
Wash and dry the radicchio, remove the hard core.
Then tear into bite-sized pieces, then separate the radicchio leaves.
Wash the pears and remove the core using an apple corer.
If you don't have an apple corer, then cut the pears in half lengthwise, cut out the core and slice thinly.
With a vegetable / mandolin slicer, thinly slice the pears into rounds.
💡TIP - You can add your cut pears to a saltwater bath to prevent them from browning but they must be firm, soft pears will turn to mush if you do this.
Mix one teaspoon of salt into two cups of water and let your apples soak in the solution for ten minutes.
Step 2 - Shake-up the Dressing
Place all the dressing ingredients in a glass jar or sealed container.
Season and shake well to emulsify. Taste and adjust seasonings according to your liking.
Step 3 - Assemble the Radicchio Pear Salad
Place all the salad ingredients in a large bowl.
Season with salt and pepper, then pour the dressing over the salad.
Toss well until all the radicchio leaves and pear slices are well coated with the dressing, taste and adjust seasonings.
Arrange in a large salad bowl, serve and enjoy!
Serving Suggestions 🍽
Personally, I love serving this festive radicchio salad with a juicy pork roast or mustard pork chops. But it also pairs well with steak or firm white-fleshed fish such as barramundi or budget friendly ling fillets. Great with a roast or grilled chicken and a perfectly roasted turkey for the holidays.
Tips and Questions
What is Radicchio?
- Radicchio is a unique and flavorful Italian vegetable with a deep red hue and white veining. It is part of the chicory family, which includes endive, frisee, and escarole.
- It is similar to red cabbage in appearance but has a much bolder, slightly spicy flavour. When cooked, its bitterness mellows and takes on a sweet flavour, while raw it has a robust and spicy taste.
- Radicchio is typically in season in the cooler winter months, with a less intense flavour than found in the summer months.
- Chioggia and Treviso are two common varieties of radicchio, with the latter having a milder, more delicate flavour.
- It can be used in salads, cooked dishes, and as a topping for pizzas and other dishes. Radicchio is a great way to add a bit of flavour and colour to any dish!
How to Choose Radicchio
Look for firm heads with even hardness all around, as soft spots indicate damage. They should be dark crimson but not too dark, as this means that it has been sitting on the shelf for long periods of time.
Are Radicchio and Red Cabbage the Same?
- At a first glance, they may look similar, but they come from two different vegetable classes.
- Red cabbage is classed as a brassica (like cauliflower, kale and broccoli), while radicchio is classed as chicory and is often referred to as Italian chicory.
- Radicchio is crimson-red with white veins throughout; it is smaller and lighter with looser, thinner leaves. It is softer with a characteristic bitter flavour.
- Red cabbage has more of a purple-red colour; it is larger and heavier with tightly packed waxy leaves. It is pretty much like a green cabbage in taste and texture, just in a different colour.
How to Choose Pears
- Pears ripen from the inside out and, for this reason, are harvested when mature but not ripe.
- For this salad, choose pears that are still firm but give slightly at the stem and are slightly fragrant.
How Can I Tone Down the Bitterness in My Radicchio?
- Radicchio's characteristic bitterness comes from naturally occurring chemical compounds, which fortunately are water-soluble.
- This means you can soak your radicchio in water to tone down some of its bitterness. First, cut it, then soak it for up to 30 minutes.
Can I Make It Ahead?
- This autumn - fall salad is at its best when eaten soon after making it.
- To save time, you could make the dressing a few days in advance and keep it in the fridge in a glass container with a tight-fitting lid.
- Roast the hazelnuts up to a week or more in advance and store them in an airtight container in the fridge.
- Even though radicchio holds up well, it is known to discolour when cut, just like the pears, so it is best to cut them just before making the salad.
- Can be enjoyed the following day, even though they may be slightly soggy and discoloured.
- I like to toss the leftovers with some shredded kale, silverbeet or chard to liven it up a bit.
More Recipes You'll Love
- Mandoline or V-Slicer
- 400 grams Radicchio 1 head, approx. 14oz
- 450 grams Green pears 2 medium, approx. 16oz
- ½ cup Hazelnuts roasted
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons hazelnut oil or olive oil
- ¼ cup Verjuice*
- 1 tablespoon Whole Grain Mustard
- Wash and dry radicchio, remove the core and cut into bite sized sized pieces, then separate the radicchio leaves.
- Wash the pears and remove the core using an apple corer. With a vegetable slicer slice thinly into rounds. If you don’t have an apple corer then simple cut the pears in half lengthwise, cut out the core and slice thinly.
- Place all the dressing ingredients in a glass jar or sealed container.
- Season and shake well to emulsify.
- Taste and adjust seasonings according to your liking.
- Place all the salad ingredients in a large mixing bowl, season and pour over dressing.
- Toss well until all the radicchio leaves and pear slices are well coated with the dressing, taste and adjust seasonings.
- Arrange in a salad bowl, serve and enjoy!