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.
Cooking alters bright, bitter flavors and tames assertive radicchio. Quick, direct-heat cooking methods transform radicchio into a slightly more mellow vegetable.
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.
Mild or flavored oils
Extra-virgin olive oil
Butter and rich dairy products
Bacon, oily fish such as salmon
Sweet and bitter: a match made in culinary heaven. One flavor enhances the other, bringing out the best in both.
Cane or beet sugar
Cane syrup, maple syrup
Fruits: fresh or dried
Jam, jelly, preserves
Acid chemically alters bitter compounds. Sour ingredients are important to taste and also serve to maintain radicchio’s vibrant color.
Buttermilk, sour cream
Cured meats: salami, sausages
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.
Table salt, sea salt
Soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce
Variety of condiments
Salty cheeses: feta, Parmesan
Cured meats: ham, prosciutto
Pungency results in biting, acrid, sharp, and strong flavors. Pairing pungency with radicchio’s bold bitterness makes for a strong head-on flavor pairing.
Ripe cheeses: blue
Smoke: cheese, meat, bacon
Olives: dry cured
Sulfur vegetables: garlic, onion