Toro Bravo's Radicchio Salad with Manchego Vinaigrette

By • December 17, 2013 • 28 Comments

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Author Notes: Austere as this salad may seem, it's got 2 secret tricks that will make you better at making salads, during the holidays and forever after. 1. You infuse the vinegar with chopped red onion for an hour, then quietly remove it. The vinegar is left with a richer, more complex flavor, without the oppressive oniony kickback. 2. You toss the dressed leaves with a dusting of finely grated Manchego to help the coating stick. Adapted slightly from Toro Bravo: Stories. Recipes. No Bull. (McSweeney's Insatiables, 2013).Genius Recipes

Serves 4 to 8

  • 2 to 3 heads radicchio (4 quarts, once chopped)
  • 1/4 cup good-quality balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup good-quality sherry vinegar
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 3/4 cups olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cup Manchego, finely grated and divided
  • Salt
  1. Remove the cores from the radicchio and discard. Chop into 1-inch pieces. Take 1 gallon of water in a large bowl and add enough ice to make the water icy cold. Once cold, strain out the ice and add the radicchio to the water. Let it sit for 15 minutes to remove some of its bitterness, strain and then spin in a salad spinner until dry. Fluff the dried radicchio. (Note: If you don't strain the ice out before adding the radicchio you'll be pulling out ice pieces for half an hour so that you don't have wet radicchio.)
  2. In a large bowl, add the balsamic vinegar, sherry vinegar, and chopped red onion. Break the onion up into pieces so that all of that oniony flavor gets into the vinegar. (Note: If you want to quick pickle and eat the onions themselves, Food52er hardlikearmour suggests adding the honey now too.) Let it sit for 1 hour and then strain out the onions.
  3. Add the honey and olive oil to the strained vinegars and whisk.
  4. Using your hands, toss the radicchio with the dressing until evenly coated. Add 1 cup of finely grated Manchego, salt, and toss again.
  5. To serve, top the salad in a serving bowl with the remaining 1/2 cup grated Manchego or distribute salad and Manchego among 4 to 8 bowls or plates.
Jump to Comments (28)

Comments (28) Questions (1)

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4 days ago Luba

Another radicchio-hater converted! Now I won't dread getting it in our CSA box-- thank you!!

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6 months ago TriBeCa

Perfect just the way you wrote! My 15 year old son said it was the best thing he has ever eaten!!! And at a party for 100 women, it was gone in 2 minutes. Thank you for sharing this delicious recipe. p.s. I left the onions in!

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8 months ago Jill Flournoy

Robin Lewis- the pickled onions are great for fish tacos (or any tacos, actually) and also in potato salad or egg salad. I put them on top of some steamed green beans. They'd be great in a salsa, or as you say, they are wonderful just on their own! They keep a long time in the refrigerator so you can be creative with them over a period of several weeks.

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7 months ago robin lewis

Thank you so much for them suggestions! I am psyched, as I am soaking a new batch of dressing/purple onions as we speak!

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7 months ago robin lewis

Sorry about that, re:"... them suggestions..." I am clumsily testing. Thanks for THE suggestions 8-)

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7 months ago robin lewis

texting, not testing. 8-(

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8 months ago robin lewis

I love this salad!! But I need a few ideas for the pickled onions. They are so good just on their own, but I haven't figured what else they might good good with. I thought mb roast beef or pork sandwiches but we don't eat either all that much. I know that someone out there is using these lovely purple pickled onions somehow...?

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8 months ago AnneF

We had this for Christmas dinner and it was as special as you say. A great recipe.

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9 months ago EmilyC

I've made this twice in the last week and just love it. The second time I had to substitute Parmigiano Reggiano. It's an acceptable substitute but the salad is much better with the nutty, sharp Manchego (of course).

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9 months ago JohnL

Piacere, I tried a scaled down version (just for me) otherwise followed the recipe. Didn't love it the first time, but it was a little better the second time because I added more dressing, which helped by adding more sweetness and tangy savor. I notice the recipe yields an abundance of dressing---should the salad be really wet with that much dressing so it gets real adhesive with the Manchego? I will try it one more time because I know how some of the most wonderful recipes don't turn out on the first or second attempt. If people are loving it, I must be doing something wrong. It does look gorgeous and its unusual, and that's what tempted me to try it!

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9 months ago piacere

Happy New Year, JohnL! I don't think you should feel bad a about not liking this salad. Nothing you're doing wrong. Palates are just different. Different things appeal to different palates. (I SO dislike caviar as example. :-) ) With so many foods and recipes and so little time, I'm comfortable saying something doesn't work for me. (BTW, I naturally decrease oil and dressinig as part of SOP and did here.) As a salad tip for one that might be a great for you to try, have you tried teh Not-so-virtuous salad that someone posted here on Food 52 last year? It is delicious with a sweet / tart dressing. It calls for mixed greens and I typically use radicchio in that mix (maybe 1/3 to 2/3 lettuce greens) and it has been a winner each time, even for folks who aren't so much fans of radicchio and chicories as primary salad elements.

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9 months ago Mary Ryan

I brought this to a NYE dinner, and it was terrific. This is pretty easy to throw together (I hope you leave yourself more time than I did to grate all that manchego--I was rushing) and travels well. I halved the olive oil. Would definitely make again.

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9 months ago Atlanticgull

Loved, loved, loved this!!! Beautiful and unexpected addition to Christmas dinner. The little I had leftover held up great at lunch the day after.

I did prep everything hours ahead and tossed it at the last minute. Next time I might mix the dressing and radicchio several hours ahead and add the cheese at the last min.

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9 months ago Patti

This recipe sounds amazing. I thinking about it for a party where I'll have a lot of last-minute tasks Has anyone tried to make this ahead? Maybe leave the final 1/2 cup of cheese to apply right before serving?

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9 months ago bythesea

I also loved this for Christmas dinner. Appreciated the directions to coat the leaves with the dressing before adding the cheese. Forgot the ice water bath and will try next time. I found myself out of balsamic vinegar and had to substitute red wine vinegar, my guests didn't notice! Would try using less oil next time

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9 months ago ramblingsandroasts

This was a delicious addition to our Christmas dinner...so festive. It even kept pretty well (fully dressed) until the next day. Manchego was a tad pricey, so I opted for finely grated Pecorino-Romano. Ice water to remove bitterness and the dressing tricks were genius. Thank you!

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9 months ago suzygregory

Help! I'm making this to go with Christmas dinner tomorrow, can NOT find sherry vinegar anywhere! Anyone out there have a good sub and idea? I have all the other ingredients. Thanks!

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9 months ago piacere

Hi suzigregory, You could try champagne vinegar, if you have that, or white wine vinegar or rice vinegar. Sherry vinegar has a sort of 'nutty' quality that you'll be missing, but any of those should work. Even a good apple cider vinegar should work. The character of the dressing will be a bit different but any of those should work with the balsamic for the dressing.

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9 months ago suzygregory

Thanks piacere :) I picked up some champagne vinegar as my backup. Will make this tomorrow, hope it is as good as it sounds!

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9 months ago carswell

This looks tasty. Manchego is hard to come by in my neck of the woods - I'm thinking Pecorino would do.

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9 months ago Burf

My first instinct was "i won't like this, i find raw radicchio too bitter" but I'm so glad i made this. Fantastic!!

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9 months ago hilary olivier

I am going to make this to go with our Christmas dinner. Seems simple and fine.

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9 months ago piacere

Made this. Loved this. It is a keeper!

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9 months ago Euro Kat

I meant omit the manchego!

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9 months ago Euro Kat

This looks delicious! Sadly, I am allergic to dairy and thus cannot have cheese. :(. Would it taste ok to omit the man hero, or is there something else, non dairy, that I could substitute?

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9 months ago JohnL

You might consider a non dairy vegan type cheese to use in place of the Manchego. I've not had any experience with these vegan cheeses, but there is quite a variety to choose from. Someone here might know of something similar to Manchego, or perhaps the cheese monger at Whole Foods or your local store could guide you. It is an interesting-sounding salad made entirely of this bitter leaf (Radicchio). I usually include radicchio in small proportion, only for an accent flavor/color.

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9 months ago Kristen Miglore

Kristen is the Executive Editor of Food52

Euro Kat, you could try using something else that would help the dressing cling, like finely minced nuts or herbs or toasted breadcrumbs. But either way, it's definitely worth trying the onion-infused vinegar trick.

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9 months ago piacere

JohnL, as you describe for yourself I have typically used radicchio in small amounts in salads not as the single veggie star as in this recipe. I just spent a month of vacation eating my way through Portland, OR (including Toro Bravo) and found radicchio salads similar to this one on several menus. I tried them all and became a fan of radichhio as salad star. Of all the many radicchio salads I tried in restaurants there, this recipe made at home was the best of all. I'll be interested to see how you like it if you post after making it.