Charred Radicchio Wedge Salad

October  4, 2022
7 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

Radicchio is one of those ingredients that’s great to have in your entertaining repertoire. It’s beautiful on the plate, it’s got a great balance of bitter and sweet that complements many fall ingredients, and it’s more special than the standard workaday lettuce that people keep in their crisper drawers. It also happens to make an unusual yet stunning stand-in for iceberg in this twist on the classic wedge salad. As good as radicchio is raw, I opted to sear the radicchio wedges in a hot pan to char the outer leaves but leave the insides crisp. From there, I draped the wedge with buttermilk-crème fraîche dressing and garnished with pancetta, pears, blue cheese, and herbs. It’s a low-effort, high-reward side dish -- the very best kind when it comes to entertaining. —EmilyC

Test Kitchen Notes

EmilyC had me at "charred." And again at "radicchio." And again with every ingredient listed. Who knew they'd all complement each other so well, not only in taste but color too! At a dinner party where presentation might matter more than at a typical meal, this dish will certainly impress even before guests savor the crispy, creamy goodness that melts in your mouth. —gabsimonelouise

What You'll Need
  • For the buttermilk-crème fraîche dressing:
  • 2 tablespoons finely diced shallots
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice, plus more to taste
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk, well-shaken
  • 1/4 cup crème fraîche
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • Kosher salt + freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon minced chives
  • For the wedge salad:
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 ounces pancetta, finely diced
  • 1 large head of radicchio (10 to 12 ounces)
  • 2 ounces Gorgonzola or other blue cheese, crumbled
  • 1 large pear, cut into small cubes
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped chives
  • Small handful of small mint leaves
  1. To make the dressing: Combine all ingredients and whisk until smooth. Season to taste with lemon juice, kosher salt, and freshly ground black pepper. Add more buttermilk (a teaspoon at a time) if the dressing is too thick. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use. This can be made 2 to 3 days in advance.
  2. To prep the radicchio: Remove any wilted or bruised outer leaves, then cut the radicchio in half lengthwise through the core. Place the halves cut-side down, then cut each half into two wedges, leaving the root end intact.
  3. In large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat for one minute. Add pancetta, and sauté until it is crispy and the fat has rendered. Remove pancetta with a slotted spoon, leaving about 2 tablespoon of fat in the pan.
  4. Increase heat to medium-high. Place four wedges, cut-side down, into pan, and cook until the outer leaves start to char, about 1 to 1 1/2 minutes, then repeat with other cut side, about 3 minutes cooking time total. You want the outer leaves to get dark brown in spots but the inside to stay crisp. Avoid overcooking the radicchio or it will wilt and become too soft.
  5. For serving, place one wedge on each plate, and top with buttermilk-crème fraîche dressing and scatter with pancetta. Around the wedge, scatter more pancetta, pear, blue cheese, chives, and mint. This dish would also be pretty served family-style on a long platter. Serve additional dressing on the side if desired. I like serving the radicchio wedges while they're still warm, but they're good at room temperature too.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Champa Paul
    Champa Paul
  • foxeslovelemons
  • EmilyC

Recipe by: EmilyC

I'm a home cook. I love salads. Two things you'll always find in my refrigerator are lemons and butter, and in my pantry good quality chocolate and the makings for chocolate chip cookies.

7 Reviews

Champa P. November 7, 2013
Tried this last night and loved it. Question, though: the radicchio was a little bitter, do you have an idea as to how to reduce the bitterness? Should I try this with endives?
EmilyC November 7, 2013
Glad you tried and liked it -- thanks for your note! This recent hotline thread has some good ideas on to reduce the bitterness, including soaking radicchio in ice water, then draining and drying well. http://food52.com/hotline/22130-raddichio-help
Champa P. November 7, 2013
Thanks so much for the info. By the way, the creme fraiche dressing was the best I've ever had!!!
EmilyC November 7, 2013
Thank you -- I love that dressing too! It's great as a vegetable dip too if you make it a bit thicker.
foxeslovelemons October 25, 2013
Warm congratulations on the CP! I must confess I love a good wedge salad at a steakhouse, but I hate how they always use iceberg. I would take yours any day - come be the garde manger chef at my local steakhouse ;)
EmilyC October 25, 2013
Thank you! I completely agree about iceberg. And too often the blue cheese dressing tastes as though it's come from an industrial-sized plastic jug! I know I'm biased, but I do think this version is much better! : )
foxeslovelemons October 25, 2013
Yeah, and steakhouse dressing is always all gloppy and goopy! Yours looks nice and pourable. I can't wait to try it!