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‘Whaaaaaaaaaat?’ Radicchio Treviso in DC?

I had a Ms. Edna Garrett moment when I saw the following at the at the Dupont Farmers Market yesterday.

Radicchio Rosso di Treviso. See what I made after the jump.

It’s very unusual to find this type of radicchio in the states; it’s typically cultivated in the Veneto region of Italy. Yes, it tastes just like regular radicchio–spicy, slightly bitter–but there’s something cool about having radicchio look like romaine lettuce as opposed to small orbs. The length of the trevisio works wonders on the grill or in this case, in a variation on a Caesar Salad I had two months ago at Osteria Mozza in Los Angeles.

The salad was phenomenal, the sprightly dressing–orange zest and juice, garlic, dates and anchovies plays nicely with the bitterness of the radicchio. At Mozza this salad was served with red endive and fennel.  Since I forgot to buy fennel and have had no luck finding red endive, the radicchio was a great substitute as both are related. Some large shavings of parmigiano reggiano round out the sweetness. All of the flavors brought to mind how a North African Caesar salad might be envisioned.

Now, a word about anchovies. Many don’t like them but they are critical in this recipe. Follow these steps:

1. Anchovies–salt ones are preferred but oil packed anchovy fillets in a jar are fine.

2. Rinse the fillets under cold water.

3. Soak the fillets in whole milk for an hour.

4. Rinse off and pat dry.

These steps will help kill the “fishy essence” of the anchovy and leave you with something more ethereal; the anchovies assume a nutty flavor with accents of the sea. Stunning.

Now, if you don’t have access to red endive or radicchio Trevisio, that’s fine. Go ahead and use a combination of regular radicchio and Belgian endive–you will like the color with the addition of red otherwise the dish looks very flat. Otherwise, pretty much all of the ingredients are easily found at your local supermarket. Enjoy the salad. I craved it for days after dining at Osteria Mozza.

Endive, Fennel and Parmesan with Anchovy Date Dressing
serves 4-6
Osteria Mozza via The Kitchen

3 heads Belgian endive
1 fennel bulb plus handful of attached ferny fronds
2-3 oz Parmesan cheese, sliced or shaved into ribbons
4 large dates, pitted and finely chopped
8 anchovy fillets, finely chopped
1 medium orange
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped1/3 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
Freshly ground black pepper

Discard bruised or discolored outer leaves of endive. Peel away remaining leaves, wash them and set to dry on a towel.

Remove, wash and set aside 10-12 nice looking fennel fronds. Chop of remaining stalky fronds from top of bulb. Slice away any bruised or discolored parts of bulb. Slice 1/4″ or smaller pieces crosswise with a sharp knife or on a mandoline.

Prepare the dressing: in a large mixing bowl, combine dates, anchovies, zest from the orange, and garlic. Combine by mashing with the back of a spoon. In a small bowl, whisk together juice from the orange, oilve oil and vinegar. Stir into date mixture.

Set out plates. Dredge and tap off pieces of endive and fennel and stack alternately with Parmesan on each plate. Garnish with a few cracks of pepper and a few fennel fronds.

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