Radicchio can be a little bitter, but when balanced by the sweetness of tomatoes, balsamic and creamy feta, it takes on a whole new light. Charring the vegetable adds another delicious note, making this salad a guaranteed crowd-pleaser. For the vegans out there, either replace the feta with a vegan alternative or simply omit.
- 1 small fennel, trimmed, fronds reserved
- 1 head radicchio
- 1½ tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, finely sliced
- 90 g cracked freekeh
- 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 200 g cherry tomatoes
- ⅓ cup mint leaves
- 2 tbsp smoked almonds, sliced
- 50 g feta cheese (see Note)
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Finley chop one quarter of the fennel. Cover the cut surface of the remaining fennel with plastic wrap and set aside. Cut the radicchio into 6 wedges. Pull away outer 2 layers of each wedge and finely slice.
Heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil in a medium size frying pan over medium heat. Add the chopped fennel, sliced radicchio and garlic and cook, stirring, for 3–4 minutes until the fennel begins to soften. Add the freekeh, 200 ml water and a pinch of salt. Bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook for 13–15 minutes until the water has been absorbed and the freekeh is tender (drain any remaining water). Stir 3 teaspoons balsamic vinegar through the freekeh and season to taste. Cover and keep warm.
Cut the reserved fennel into 1 cm thick slices. Heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add the fennel and tomatoes to the frying pan and cook, turning occasionally, until the fennel is lightly caramelised and the tomatoes have softened, about 3–4 minutes. Remove from the pan and add to the freekeh. Add the remaining 2 teaspoons of olive oil to the pan and increase the heat to high. Place the radicchio, cut side down into the pan and cook for 45–60 seconds until lightly charred. Repeat on the other cut side.
Add the mint, reserved fennel fronds and smoked almonds to the freekeh and toss to combine. Divide between plates and arrange radicchio to the side. Drizzle radicchio with 3 teaspoons of balsamic and crumble over the feta.
• You can substitute feta with labneh or goat's cheese.
Photography by Benito Martin. Styling by Lynsey Fryers. Food preparation by Suresh Watson.
Robert Gordon tapas plate (salad bowl) and salad server, both from The Chef and The Cook. White Series porcelain side plate from Koskela.