Serves a Crowd

Toro Bravo's Radicchio Salad with Manchego Vinaigrette

December 17, 2013
13 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Prep time 30 minutes
  • Serves 4 to 8
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

What You'll Need
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup good-quality balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup good-quality sherry vinegar
  • 3 heads radicchio
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups Manchego, finely grated and divided
  • 1 pinch salt, plus more to taste
  1. 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.
  2. 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.)
  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.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Babette's sous chef
    Babette's sous chef
  • Sunny Aalami
    Sunny Aalami
  • Sabine Gagnon
    Sabine Gagnon
  • linzarella
  • Martha Hopkins
    Martha Hopkins
Genius Recipes

Recipe by: Genius Recipes

47 Reviews

Babette's S. February 15, 2023
WOW, this is a fabulous recipe....salty, sweet, tart & bitter all at once! Like a complex cocktail in a salad. This is a keeper!
Sunny A. December 26, 2020
Sabine G. January 5, 2020
This is such a simple, but wildly delicious salad! Loved everything about this. Will be making this until I die. I also added pomegranate seeds- and loved the combo! Could see toasted pine nuts being fab in this, too!
Jmolaei November 25, 2017
Added pomegranate seeds, which both tasted and looked great!
linzarella November 24, 2017
This is absolutely the PERFECT Thanksgiving salad. I was a bit skeptical, because it sounded so plain, and my family isn't into anything weird/bitter (yes, radicchio qualifies for them as "weird"), but everyone loved it. The little tricks and attention to detail in this recipe really pay off, making it so much more than the sum of its parts.

Only change I made was including the pickled onions in the salad, based on other commenter's recommendations. I feel like it also might be good with homemade croutons, but then again, it's so perfect in its simplicity that I'd be hesitant to mess around too much with it.
Martha H. September 1, 2017
A friend made this last night for a dinner party. SO GOOD!!!!!! Even if you're like, uh, a whole salad of radicchio, no. You'd be so wrong. So good!
Aus April 22, 2017
This instantly became my all time favorite salad after eating it at Toro Bravo in Portland. I was beyond delighted when I found the recipe for I thought online as I don't have the cook book yet. Thank you for allowing me to recreate it at home!
ss2910 January 14, 2017
This was delicious and beautiful and elegant!! I will be making this over and over again. At first I was put off by the steps involved in preparing the radicchio (soaking in ice water) and steeping onions for an hour - but it was well worth it, and for what you get at the end, seems like a small price to pay for an exquisite salad.
Martina B. November 23, 2016
I absolutely adore this salad. Sophisticated yet straightforward. I add pink lady apples (julienned or grated) which adds a hit of tart and sweet. At times I also add the red onions to the salad versus discarding them.
robin L. November 23, 2016
i agree. this is my favorite food52 recipe.
robin L. September 20, 2016
This is still one of the first things I ever think to/jump to want to offer for a dinner or pot luck. It's such a delicious salad. It's one of my top (if not THE top) food52 recipes I keep coming back to.
JSCooks January 17, 2016
This salad turns a roasted chicken and some roasted potatoes into a simple and perfect meal. Beautiful, delicious, and intriguing. I always get a recipe request, and I'm always happy to share it. Thanks!
Hallie April 20, 2015
This is a handy recipe for a dinner party. Not to many ingredients to buy, slightly unexpected, and a bright color for the table!
Paula V. January 5, 2015
Awesome dressing!!!!! However I used arugula instead of radicchio and added blanched asparagus and slivered almonds. Sooooo good
MtIdaho December 15, 2014
Thank you for your suggestions, Robin and MenCanCook. I have to drive 80 miles in the hopes of finding endive or arugula (Never watercress or radicchio… they are 200 miles away), so am always searching for adequate recipe substitutions. Will definitely try the vinaigrette with what's available around here.
MtIdaho December 15, 2014
I live in the wilds of Idaho where radicchio has never been heard of. Do you think red cabbage could be substituted?
robin L. December 15, 2014
Actually, I've made this lovely vinaigrette for completely different salads than this one. And I just googled substitutes for radicchio and found these suggestions:
"belgian endive or curly endive or arugula OR watercress"...I'd probably make the vinaigrette and sample it with these...I'm guessing that either of the endives would be the ones that would solo well enough in place of the radicchio...
MenCanCook December 15, 2014
Radicchio is a leaf chicory , sometimes known as Italian chicory. It has a bitter and spicy taste, which mellows when it is grilled or roasted. Red cabbage, on the other hand, is indeed a cabbage, and it's color is dependent primarily on the pH of the soil it was grown in. In my opinion, if you would like a milder taste, you might prefer the red cabbage... Hope that is helpful. Enjoy
MenCanCook December 10, 2014
Curious... Why do you specify 'good-quality' vinegars in your recipe? Are there really people who use 'bad-quality' vinegars out there? Snicker
Luba September 14, 2014
Another radicchio-hater converted! Now I won't dread getting it in our CSA box-- thank you!!
TriBeCa March 14, 2014
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!
Jill F. January 24, 2014
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.
robin L. February 9, 2014
Thank you so much for them suggestions! I am psyched, as I am soaking a new batch of dressing/purple onions as we speak!
robin L. February 9, 2014
Sorry about that, re:"... them suggestions..." I am clumsily testing. Thanks for THE suggestions 8-)
robin L. February 9, 2014
texting, not testing. 8-(
robin L. January 19, 2014
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...?