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Try this vibrant radicchio salad, the perfect side dish! Sweet pears, crunchy almonds, tangy goat cheese, and a bright citrus vinaigrette dress up a colorful bed of greens.

Radicchio Salad
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Move over kale: there’s a new salad green in town (or, a new purple?). As cookbook authors who’ve made over 60 salad recipes, it’s hard to impress us with something new. But this radicchio salad is a vibrant explosion of flavors and textures that will send your tastebuds into overdrive! Bitter bright purple radicchio leaves are balanced by the sweetness of ripe pears, the satisfying crunch of toasted almonds, the creamy tang of goat cheese, and a zesty citrus vinaigrette that ties it all together. This isn’t your average salad!

What is radicchio?

It’s hard to believe that in a decade of writing recipes, we’ve barely scratched the surface on this leafy green. Radicchio is a bitter green that’s a member of the chicory family, known for its striking purple color and bitter flavor. It forms compact heads with deep red or maroon leaves that have contrasting white veins.

Radicchio’s bitterness comes from a compound called intybin, which mellows when cooking. Much like other bitter vegetables like Brussels sprouts and cauliflower, when it’s grilled, roasted, or braised, radicchio has a sweeter, more nuanced flavor profile. You might find charred radicchio on a restaurant menu, and the vegetable is common in Italian cuisine.


Ingredients for radicchio salad

Working with this ingredient in the past (in this endive salad, for example), we noticed one overriding characteristic: radicchio tastes bitter. To balance out the bitterness, we’ve prefer not to have an entire salad of the purple leaves: it’s much too strong. Instead, balance radicchio with other greens, like butter lettuce, baby arugula, mizuna, or other mild greens. Adding fruit like pears or apples also helps to balance with sweetness, and strong cheeses pair well too.

Here are the ingredients for this radicchio salad:

  • Radicchio
  • Butter lettuce, baby arugula, baby mizuna: You can use any type of mild green. We like the texture of baby arugula or baby mizuna, which is a green similar to arugula but not as peppery. Avoid mature arugula as it is much too spicy.
  • Pear: Use a ripe pear or substitute a green or red apple.
  • Shallot: The mild flavor of shallot pairs well here. Red onion works too.
  • Almonds: Making toasted almonds brings out their nutty flavor, or for a fancy salad use pine nuts.
  • Cheese: Goat cheese crumbles, feta, or gorgonzola cheese work well (we like goat cheese best). For a vegan salad, omit the cheese.
  • Herbs: Fresh mint bring a pop of fresh flavor.
  • Citrus vinaigrette: This homemade orange vinaigrette is essential to the flavor, as orange and radicchio are a common flavor pairing.
Radicchio Salad

Why toasting the nuts makes a difference

You might not want to spend the 5 extra minutes toasting nuts, but here’s why it’s important (and required, in our opinion!). Toasting nuts brings out at nutty essence to the flavor that’s otherwise undetectable. You have to taste it to believe it, but there’s a huge difference between a raw nut and a toasted nut.

Over here, we always toast our nuts before adding them to salads and desserts. You can toast nuts on the stovetop or in the oven. For salad, we typically use the stovetop since it’s so quick and it’s just a small quantity. Here’s How to Toast Nuts (2 Best Ways!).

For the orange vinaigrette

This radicchio salad goes hand in hand with the homemade vinaigrette: it’s got just the right sweet tart, zingy citrus flavor to contrast the bitterness of the purple leaves. It uses simple ingredients you’ll likely already have on hand in your pantry and fridge, with the exception of an orange. You’ll need to zest the orange, which we like to do with a microplane grater: it’s quick and easy to use. The ingredients you’ll need are:

  • Zest of one orange
  • White wine vinegar
  • Dijon mustard
  • Maple syrup or honey
  • Olive oil
Radicchio Salad recipe

Alternative dressings

This radicchio salad is the perfect fall salad or winter salad to pair with cozy dishes, but it works in any season. It’s great with chicken, seafood, pasta, pizza, and more! A few other dressings can work with this radicchio salad, though we love the orange vinaigrette the most. Here are a few homemade salad dressings to consider:

More salad recipes

There are so many different greens to highlight in salads: and it’s not just kale and spinach! Here are some of our favorite salads featuring different leafy greens:

This radicchio salad recipe is…

Vegetarian and gluten-free. For plant-based, dairy-free and vegan, omit the cheese.

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Radicchio Salad

Radicchio Salad

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  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x
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Try this vibrant radicchio salad, the perfect side dish! Sweet pears, crunchy almonds, tangy goat cheese, and a bright citrus vinaigrette dress up a colorful bed of greens.



For the radicchio salad

  • 1 head radicchio, washed, dried and torn into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 head butter lettuce, washed, dried and torn into bite-sized pieces or 2 cups baby arugula or baby mizuna
  • 1 ripe pear, thinly sliced
  • 1 shallot, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons toasted almonds (or pine nuts)
  • ¼ cup goat cheese crumbles (or feta or gorgonzola), optional
  • 1 handful fresh mint leaves

For the citrus vinaigrette

  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest
  • 2 tablespoons honey or maple syrup
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ cup olive oil


  1. Make the dressing: In a medium bowl, whisk together the white wine vinegar, Dijon mustard, orange zest, honey, and kosher salt. Gradually whisk in the olive oil 1 tablespoon at a time until a creamy dressing forms. Store refrigerated; the dressing will solidify when cooled so bring to room temperature before serving.
  2. Toast the nuts
  3. Prepare the radicchio, butter lettuce (if using), pear, shallot as noted above.
  4. On a large platter or on salad plates, place the radicchio pieces and butter lettuce or baby arugula or mizuna. Add the pear slices, then sprinkle over the sliced shallot, toasted nuts, goat cheese crumbles, and mint leaves. Drizzle with the orange dressing and serve.
  • Category: Salad
  • Method: No Cook
  • Cuisine: Salad
  • Diet: Vegetarian

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes and the joy of cooking! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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