It’s daunting, but after many years of saying “no” to things, I’ve finally – to quote a friend of mine – put on my big girl panties. I’ve started saying “yes” to stuff, no matter how much it may scare me.

The thought of doing my own food blog had been brewing for ages. Getting over myself (at long last!) and following Nike’s directive to JUST DO IT, has been a pretty liberating experience. I won’t carry on about my epiphany, it would be such a frightful bore. I’d rather talk about food.

In spite of my hitherto reticence in other areas, the one thing I’ve never said “no” to, is anything new food-wise. (OK that’s not quite true. I’ve run screaming for the hills from mopane worms, even though they were languishing in a delightful little chilli-tomato sauce. I don’t think you can blame me.) So let me rephrase. In general, I don’t say “no” to new/different food.

Raddichio is not something one often sees. Added to a pre-washed variety salad pack, yes. On its own? Not so much. Which is a pity. With its gorgeous white veins running through red leaves, it’s just so pretty.

It’s also bitter and South Africans, unlike Italians, are not great appreciators of bitter leaves. Treated the right way, I think it’s a delight. I like it with something crunchy for added texture, something creamy and salty to give it an extra dimension and something quite sweet to balance the bitter.

I saw some raddichio at the Old Biscuit Mill in Woodstock last weekend, so I made this… raddichio salad with toasted walnuts, creamy Cremezola and a sweet honeyed vinaigrette.

I served it with ciabatta, truckloads of finely sliced prosciutto, salami and a fruity white wine under the big tree in my back garden. It was a mighty fine little Italian-inspired al fresco lunch.

Next time you encounter something new, think of saying “yes”, even if it just to radicchio.

All you need is…

A head of radicchio, washed
A block of Cremezola cheese (Woolies stocks it)
Half a cup of walnuts, dry roasted in the oven or in a pan on the stove
4 tbs extra virgin olive oil
2 tbs red wine vinegar
1 tsp wholegrain mustard
generous pinch of salt
generous pinch of black pepper
2 tbs honey

Place the radicchio leaves on a large platter. Crumble over the cheese and walnuts. Mix the rest of the ingredients and pour over the salad. Enjoy!

serves

4

prep

10 min

cook

0 min

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good to know

What is the difference…

…between red cabbage and radicchio? We’ll, they’re about as different as cats and dogs. Radicchio belongs to the chicory family, not the cabbage family. So don’t confuse the two. Red cabbage is actually more purple in colour, whereas radicchio is burgundy.

Here are a few more options for radicchio:

  • Replace the walnuts in my recipe with crispy bacon
  • Try a salad with hazelnuts and orange segments
  • Mix it with rocket leaves and drizzle with balsamic and olive oil
  • Cut it in quarters and braai it. Then drizzle it with thick balsamic glaze, olive oil plus some sea salt and black pepper

enjoy with

Sauvignon Blanc is my choice for this. Something like a Gewürtztraminer could also work as it would offset the bitter leaves nicely.

Tokara consistently produces good Sauvignon Blanc. I have not tasted their 2013, but the 2012 (with 3% Semillon added) has lovely tropical fruit offset by a touch of green. If you’re into red, pick a lighter one with very soft tannins.

Tokara

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