Smoked Cherry Grilled Radicchio Salad is a striking salad full of bright colours and flavours. Sweet cherries are smoked then served alongside creamy goat cheese all on top of a bed of bitter-sweet grilled radicchio. Served al fresco with a splash of simple vinaigrette.
Composed summer salads are a ‘thing’ of mine. I like to play around with strong flavours to create edible works of art such as this Pink Grapefruit, Endive, and Avocado Salad with Prociutto. Of course, if you prefer to toss all the flavours together in one bowl, this great Grilled Peach Fruit Salad with Burrata is not to be missed!
Smoked Cherry Grilled Radicchio Salad
A bit of effort and attention to flavour profiles pays off in this ruby red salad. It’s easy to plate a gorgeous salad when ingredients are fresh beautiful seasonal cherries and radicchio. Taking the time to char the radicchio mellows out it’s flavour a wee bit.
The cherries are a little sour, a little sweet, and a bit smoky. They pair wonderfully with the tart tang of goat chèvre. The salad is then tied together with a simple vinaigrette that allows the other ingredients to shine.
What is Radicchio?
Radicchio (pronounced RAH-DEE-KEY-OH) is a herbacious perennial from the chicory group (which also includes Belgian endive). Though it looks a lot like red cabbage, the red coloured leaves with white veins are characteristically bitter and often spicy in flavour.
There are several uniquely beautiful varieties of radicchio. In addition to the small round variety (chioggia) used in this recipe, both castelfranco (round and white with red flecks) and treviso (red and white; shaped long like romaine lettuce) would also work in this salad.
There are more lesser known, difficult to find varieties that range in colour from creamy white, to green and brilliant red with mixed colour combinations. They may be long or round, small like a tight fist or large like a head of iceberg lettuce.
Radicchio varieties are named after the Italian regions from which they originate.
Why is Radicchio Bitter?
Bitter isn’t a flavour profile that many people seek out. This is because plants evolved to have bitter compounds as protection against predators (human or otherwise). Since many bitter flavoured plants are also toxic, and historically it’s in our best interest to avoid these foods.
However, humans are a curious species. Think about bitter foods you might encounter on a regular basis; bitter chocolate, olive oil, hops, coffee, green tea, and artichokes just to name a few. Without our species’ curiosity and ability to reason (in regards to bitterness), none of these foods would be as popular in the human diet as they are today.
Embracing the Bitterness of Radicchio
Originally, radicchio was grown and eaten throughout Italy. It is found in Italian cuisine simply grilled with olive oil, mixed into pasta or risotto, or eaten raw in salads and tapenades. Italians embrace the bitter flavour (but many aren’t fans of anything sour!) of raw radicchio, while also appreciating the mellower, slightly sweeter flavour of cooked radicchio.
Grilled Radicchio vs. Slow Cooked Radicchio
To grill radicchio, simply cut it into wedges, and toss to coat with olive oil in a large bowl. Then grill the wedges (on a grilling pan or barbecue) on medium-high heat for 5 minutes until there are charred edges and softened inner leaves. Chicories don’t caramelize and become sweet like other vegetables (most notably cruciferous) do. However, they do mellow just a little bit.
The bitterness of radicchio is also a fabulous foil to rich slow cooked dishes such as cheese tarts, strudels, and poultry stuffing.
Besides cooking, there are other ways to tame the bitterness of this little vegetable. The easiest way is to soak chopped radicchio in cold water before cooking. This will decrease the amount of bitter compounds you ingest.
In salads, such as this Smoked Cherry Grilled Radicchio Salad, other components such as the goat chèvre and vinaigrette play an important part in taming and even complimenting the bitter flavour.
Other Components in this Grilled Radicchio Salad
This salad is a great example of how a few simple quality ingredients shine together in the finished product. Radicchio is available year round (as is chèvre) as it is quite a sturdy vegetable. Select radicchio that has tight plump leaves with bright colour and no brown spots.
I highly recommend making this salad during cherry season. When creating a dish with very few ingredients, using quality cherries is even more important. To smoke the cherries, I used my Breville Smoking Gun and some cherry wood to smoke the pitted cherries. Use a cold smoker to the same effect or skip this step altogether.
Assembling the Smoked Cherry Grilled Radicchio Salad
Choose a large dish or platter for your salad. I used a white plate but this salad would also look amazing on a black platter. Start by arranging the grilled radicchio and butter lettuce on the plate. Then scatter the smoked cherries on top of the leaves.
Using two teaspoons, shape the goat chèvre into quenelles or just drop small bits of cheese at will. Finish the salad with freshly chopped chives and a simple vinaigrette. That’s it!
This is a salad that needs to be eaten in one seating. I don’t recommend refrigerating any leftovers. However, if you plate the salad individually, you can refrigerate any leftovers for a day or two as long as you haven’t added the cheese.
Smoked Cherry Grilled Radicchio Salad
Smoked Cherry Grilled Radicchio Salad is a striking salad full of bright colours and flavours. Sweet cherries are smoked then served alongside creamy goat cheese on top of a bed of bitter-sweet grilled radicchio. Served al fresco with a splash of simple vinaigrette.
- 2 heads of chioggia radicchio (or other variety)
- 2 cups cherries; pitted and cut in half
- 1 cup baby butter lettuce leaves
- 5 oz. (150 g) soft goat cheese (chèvre)
- 1/4 cup chives; chopped
- 2 tbsp white wine vinegar (or chive blossom vinegar)
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp sugar
- freshly ground pepper
- To grill radicchio, simply cut it into wedges, and toss to coat with olive oil in a large bowl. Then grill the wedges (on a grilling pan or barbecue) on medium-high heat for 5 minutes until there are charred edges and softened inner leaves.
- To smoke the cherries*, place pitted cherries on a plate and invert a glass bowl or smoking cloche over the top. Place cherry wood chips in the smoking gun and ignite them. Let the bowl fill with smoke then sit for 5 minutes. Repeat.
- Arrange the grilled radicchio and butter lettuce on a plate. Then scatter the smoked cherries on top of the leaves.
- Using two teaspoons, shape the goat chèvre into quenelles or just drop small bits of cheese at will.
- Make the vinagrette by placing the vinegar, oil, salt, sugar, and pepper in a small jar. Put the lid on and give it a good shake. Drizzle the vinaigrette over the salad. Chive Blossom Vinegar HERE.
- Finish with freshly chopped chives.
*if you don't own a smoking gun, cold smoke them using the method of your choice or skip this step altogether.
Amount Per Serving:Calories: 269Total Fat: 21gSaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 13gCholesterol: 16mgSodium: 457mgCarbohydrates: 13gFiber: 2gSugar: 10gProtein: 8g
Nutritional calculation was provided by Nutritionix and is an estimation only. For special diets or medical issues please use your preferred calculator.
I have never heard of radicchio until I read your post! Thank you for the notes on the veg. I should look for it the next time I shop at Italian Centre.
I was just at the Calgary store last week and they had lovely radicchio. Give it a try! It’s always nice to introduce new flavours.
Radicchio is one of my favorite ingredients, I love the strong flavors and I think it can add so much to a recipe. I LOVE your recipe, have never tried it with cherries and feel the need to make this asap. Will gaet all the ingredients and will add it to my menu for tonight’s dinner. Absolutely wonderful. Thanks so much!
Wonderful to hear Jenny. I hope you really enjoy the salad.
This salad looks so delicious! Cherrys are super yummy at the moment so I will definitely have to try this recipe soon!
They really are. Eat as many as you can while you can.
Such a cool recipe and a perfect timing. I have been looking for ideas to use radicchio and fortunately i found your recipe. Thanks for sharing.
Glad to be of help Gunjan, enjoy!
Oh Bernice this looks absolutely STUNNING!!! The colors are incredible! My husband is a huge cherry freak and he will go crazy over this recipe!!
Thank you so much Lori! He’s got to try smoked cherries then. Give it a try!
love the color and flavor of this salad. The presentation too is amazing. The vibrant colors of this salad are so inviting. Have never tried radicchio before. Will surely try this for dinner tonite.
You will be very surprised if you have never had radicchio! It’s a very unique vegetable.
I didn’t even know smoked cherries were a thing until now. I’ll have to find someone with a smoker! They’re not so common here in Germany. At least not in Munich where everyone lives in apartments. We eat a lot of radicchio here, though. This sounds like a great salad!
Anyone can smoke cherries! I used a small smoking gun, not an outdoor smoker. It’s great when used to cold smoke small foods like cherries.
What a beautiful salad, love all the different flavour profiles – it’s the perfect combination. I have a big bag of cherries so we’ll be making this for dinner tomorrow. Thanks for sharing the recipe.
Yes, give it a try. You’re going to love it!
I LOVE the flavours in this salad. We eat a lot of radicchio here in Verona, especially as most Italian radicchio is cultivated in this region (Veneto)! There are also lots of cherry orchards. However, I would never have thought to pair cherries with radicchio. But, I can imagine how good this salad tastes! On my to make list!
Amazing!! Thank you so much for commenting all the way from Verona! What a wonderful and delicious place to live.
Oh what a beautiful summer salad! I love adding goat cheese but would never think to add cherries. What a great combination!
Thank you Andrea!
This salad looks beautiful indeed…great mix of flavours and gorgeous images too!
Thank you Shailaja!!
Omgsh this salad is lovely. Beautiful plating! And thanks for the tip on grilling the radicchio – I must try that this summer while the grill is fired up almost nightly. 🙂
Yes! It’s so easy to just throw it on while the grill is hot.
Bernice, this is a stunning salad. It has it all, bitter, sweet, juicy, crunchy, creamy AND smoky. Cherry season is just finishing up here in the Okanagan so I am making this asap.
Thank you so much Colleen. These cherries are from Vernon and they are amazing.
Oh this looks absolutely sensational! I agree with you – I like strong, bold flavors in salads, too. Otherwise, why bother, right?!? You really do hit all the notes here – from slightly bitter radicchio to juicy and sweet cherries to creamy, earthy goat cheese. And then the grilling and smoking to add even more layers of flavor! Wow! The cherries have been exceptional lately – such a fleeting joy this time of year – and this showstopper salad is a perfect way to enjoy them. Thanks for this astonishing recipe – really an exciting idea!
Thanks so much Shelley. This salad was such a treat, I really hope you give this recipe a try.