grilled fall salad.
To be honest, for a vegetarian, I’m very picky when it comes to salads. I can only eat them when I’m craving them (usually during the warmer months), and I generally crave a very specific type of salad (no lettuce, lots of tomato, cucumber, olives, lemon juice, salt and pepper – to be exact). Well, for the past week, I’ve been craving salad – and as usual, a very specific one. This time, I was craving a fall salad – and not just any fall salad, a grilled fall salad. I finally made it today, and it really was everything I was hoping for and more.
This salad screams fall – just looking at it, the colors remind me of changing leaves. The flavors and textures are all so perfect together – slightly bitter radicchio, tender squash, sweet pears, crunchy pepitas and salty pecorino romano cheese. Sounds good, doesn’t it? It’s much heartier than a summer salad, and the addition of pepitas and pecorino cheese add a good amount of protein.
If you don’t like radicchio, you can substitute endive or even romaine – but note that the radicchio loses some of it’s bitter taste once it’s been grilled and caramelized a bit. Also, I almost forgot to mention the dressing! Usually, I don’t make dressings or use prepared dressings – I like sticking to simple olive oil and vinegar or lemon juice. This is an exceptional case – I really think this dressing adds a lot to the salad – it’s super simple to make and it’s absolutely delicious!
Grilled Fall Salad (serves 8)3 heads raddicchio 2 1/2 lbs. winter squash (I used carnival squash, but acorn, butternut or kabocha squash would be wonderful in this) 2 bosc pears 1 cup hulled pumpkin seeds (I toasted mine on a baking sheet in the oven; 250 degrees for 20-30 minutes) 1 1/2 oz. shaved pecorino romano cheese 3 tbsp. olive oil non-stick cooking spray
Prep the vegetables/pears for grilling: Cut each radicchio head into quarters (don’t remove the core before grilling – it’s what will hold the radicchio together on the grill) and using a pastry brush, lightly brush each quarter with olive oil on all sides. Cut the squash into 1/2″ slices, removing any seeds (no need to peel the squash – it’s easier to remove the peel after grilling). Core the pears and slice into 1/4″ slices.
Preheat a grill pan over medium heat for a minute. Working in batches, grill the radicchio until very tender and caramelized (about 3 minutes on each side) and set aside.
Spray the grill pan with non-stick cooking spray, and working in batches, grill the squash until tender (about 5 minutes on each side). Allow grilled squash to cool slightly, and using a paring knife, remove the skin and cut squash into chunks. Place on top of the grilled radicchio.
Finally, grill the pears until tender (about 4 minutes on each side) – careful, they burn fairly easily! Top the salad with the pear slices, pepitas and pecorino romano cheese. Serve with balsamic glaze dressing (recipe below).
Balsamic Glaze Dressing:1 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar 1/3 cup red wine 1 tsp. honey 1 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary (if using dried, use 1/2 tsp.)
Combine the balsamic vinegar and wine in a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-low heat. Reduce heat a bit and allow to simmer for 20 minutes. Add in the honey and rosemary, and continue to simmer for an additional 10 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool (the dressing will thicken a bit as it cools).