Radicchio with Cabernet, Honeyed Walnuts and Blue Cheese
- 1 head radicchio lettuce
- 25 sprigs watercress picked
- 1/2 cup walnuts
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 100 grams blue cheese
- 20 black cabernet grapes or comparable variety, cut in half, seeded
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 1 cup balsamic vinegar
- extra virgin olive oil
- sea salt flakes
- freshly ground black pepper
I created this dish some time back while browsing the fridge, (to be honest I was giving the fridge the weekly clean and got hungry in the mean time).
I looked in the crisper drawer and found a couple heads of radicchio lettuce, ‘what can I do with these’ I thought. I moved to the cheese drawer and found a little piece of neglected blue cheese, it had been over looked for the last few cheese platters due to its small size, but this neglect had also meant it had aged nicely. ‘Blue cheese and radicchio, bitey and bitter’ I thought. ‘Better get something a little sweet to balance it a touch.’ I went to the pantry and pulled out a few handfuls of walnuts tossed them in a pan with some honey and cooked them until golden. ‘Getting somewhere now’ I thought, although the walnuts were coated in honey they still would have a slight inherent bitterness. Back to the fridge, there I found some Cabernet grapes; I de-seeded them and added them to the plan. I considered that maybe the whole dish was getting a little too sweet now and decided to throw in a few sprigs of peppery watercress to bring back the balance. I still wasn’t sure what it would taste like but I was pretty certain that the flavours would work relatively well together. I tossed it all in a large mixing bowl and whipped up a dressing and served it up as my lunch, so much for cleaning the fridge.
- In a small saucepan reduce the balsamic over a medium flame until reduced by two thirds, allow to cool (this can be done in a larger quantity as reduced balsamic is always nice to have on hand).
- Remove the outer leaves of the radicchio until you get to the deep red centre of the head.
- Break up the red heart and tear it into uniform bite size pieces (remove the white spines by cutting a V in each leaf).
- Toss the walnuts with the honey and place them in a non stick pan and cook over high heat, keep tossing the walnuts or they will burn.
- Once golden remove them and spread out on a flat surface on baking paper and allow to cool.
- In a small mixing bowl, mix the mustard with a good splash of olive oil and season with a little salt and pepper and whisk until combined.
- Place lettuce, watercress and grape halves in a large mixing bowl and toss with a few tbsps of the dressing.
- Arrange evenly on the 4 plates and garnish with crumbled cheese, walnuts and a drizzle of reduced balsamic.