Power Partners

Radicchio’s slightly spicy bite – its bright, bitter note – makes it pair deliciously with many other flavor components. There are five categories of foods that make radicchio perform brilliantly – mellowing its bitter character to “just right.”

These pairings or flavor-layering techniques create delicious synergy in a dish. When you add cooking, there are six Power Partner approaches for serving radicchio. Radicchio performs brilliantly, whether in a simple dish highlighted with just a couple of its power partners, or in a dish with many complex flavors. We’ve included nine recipes to show off radicchio  in its vast versatility, accompanied with the many flavors that help make it a virtuoso performance.

Hot

Cooking alters bright, bitter flavors and tames assertive radicchio. Quick, direct-heat cooking methods transform radicchio into a slightly more mellow vegetable.

Examples:

Grilling
Roasting
Sautéing
Poach/Blanch
Deep fried

Rich

Bitter compounds, according to Prusa, are attracted to fat molecules, actually binding with them. So ingredients with a high percentage of fat will act as a buffer for bitter flavors.

Examples:

Mild or flavored oils
Extra-virgin olive oil
Butter and rich dairy products
Rich cheeses
Avocado
Bacon, oily fish such as salmon

Sweet

Sweet and bitter: a match made in culinary heaven. One flavor enhances the other, bringing out the best in both.

Examples:

Cane or beet sugar
Honey, molasses
Cane syrup, maple syrup
Fruits: fresh or dried
Jam, jelly, preserves
Candied nuts

Sour

Acid chemically alters bitter compounds. Sour ingredients are important to taste and also serve to maintain radicchio’s vibrant color.

Examples:

Vinegar
Citrus juices
Buttermilk, sour cream
Cured meats: salami, sausages
Tart fruits
Wine

Salty

Salt masks some of the assertive bittereatness of radicchio, and adds its own salty magic to the eating experience. Salt acts as a filter on the palate for bitter flavor.

Examples:

Table salt, sea salt
Soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce
Variety of condiments
Olives
Salty cheeses: feta, Parmesan
Cured meats: ham, prosciutto
Salted nuts
Capers

Pungent

Pungency results in biting, acrid, sharp, and strong flavors. Pairing pungency with radicchio’s bold bitterness makes for a strong head-on flavor pairing.

Examples:

Mustard
Anchovy
Ripe cheeses: blue
Smoke: cheese, meat, bacon
Olives: dry cured
Horseradish
Sulfur vegetables: garlic, onion
Black pepper