Top | Toro Bravo
(recipe, Liz Crain & John Gorham)
When I was in the Bay Area and working with David Rosales — who was a part of the sous chefs club with me — we were getting really beautiful heads of chicories in from Tierra Madre Farm in the Santa Cruz Mountains. We made a salad with them with a dressing with this ratio of ingredients using red-wine vinegar, which I eventually swapped out for the subtler sherry vinegar used here.
The sweetness of this dressing really balances the bitterness of the radicchio. Radicchio is a waxy green, so a lot of the time dressings don’t want to stick to it. A secret to all of our salads, including this one, is that we Microplane Manchego, and add it to every salad right before serving. The grated cheese here solves that problem of the dressing not sticking. It’s just like flouring something to make the batter stick.
Another secret to our radicchio salad, which is one of Toro’s most popular items, is the same secret of David’s salad: red onions macerated in vinegar for a couple of hours, and then strained out. It’s one of those layers of flavor that can really stump you. You think, "Where the fuck is that coming from?" Because you don’t see the onions, but you definitely taste them in the vinegar.
I like the texture of the crostini here with this salad, and the butteriness of our tapenade because of the olives that we use. It goes really well with the sharp radicchio.
- 2 to 3 heads of radicchio (4 quarts)
- ¼ cup good-quality balsamic vinegar
- ¼ cup good-quality sherry vinegar
- 1 red onion, chopped
- 1 Tbsp. honey
- ¾ cup plus 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1½ cups Manchego, finely grated and divided
- Salt and pepper
- 1 baguette (for crostini)
- ½ cup Tapenade
- Remove the cores from the radicchio and discard. Chop it into 1-inch pieces. Take 1 gallon of water in a large bowl and add enough ice to make the water icy cold. Once cold, strain out the ice and add the radicchio to the water. Let it sit for 15 minutes to remove some of its bitterness, strain, and then spin in a salad spinner until dry. Fluff the dried radicchio. (Note: If you don’t strain the ice out before adding the radicchio, you’ll be pulling out ice pieces for half an hour so that you don’t have wet radicchio.)
- In a large bowl, add the balsamic vinegar, sherry vinegar, and chopped red onion. Break the onion up into pieces so that all of that oniony flavor gets into the vinegar. Let it sit for 1 hour, then strain out the onions and discard them.
- Add the honey and olive oil to the strained vinegars and whisk.
- Using your hands, toss the radicchio with the dressing until evenly coated. Add 1 cup of finely grated Manchego, salt, and toss again.
- Slice the baguette on an extreme bias into ¼-inch-thick pieces, one piece per person. Drizzle each baguette slice with olive oil and season it with salt and pepper, then grill or broil the slices until slightly charred. Top each with 1 to 2 tablespoons of tapenade.
- Serve the salad in 2 chilled bowls. Top each salad with another ¼ cup finely grated Manchego, and the grilled crostinis with tapenade on top of that.