Adoro Chioggia! Without this small fishing village in northern Italy, we wouldn’t have this beetroot salad. The sweetness from the Chioggia beetroot and the bitterness from the Chioggia radicchio provides for a sophisticated light side.
Why I Love Beetroot Salad with Radicchio and Pomegranate
We recently had some friends over and my partner cooked his signature 24-hour beef ribs. The kind that melts in your mouth and falls off the bones.
It is a very heavy main with extremely bold flavours, and I wanted to create a light side that would be somewhat of a palette cleanser between mouthfuls. I wanted to give the flavours a break so that the next bite of the beef rib was enjoyed even more.
By light, however, it didn’t mean delicate in flavour. Tart, bitter and sweet did cross my mind and when I found candy-striped beetroot, I knew it needed some bright, red-leafed radicchio with pops of sweetness from the pomegranate.
From a presentation perspective, I wanted to showcase the gorgeous candy-striped beetroot.
It truly is extremely pretty and to be in keeping with the colours, all the ingredients were handpicked to maintain those lovely red and pink hues. The light pink pickled red onions certainly added to the overall construction of the recipe too.
What Is A Radicchio?
Radicchio is a type of chicory and it is often mistaken for red cabbage or lettuce with red leaves. It is sometimes referred to as Italian chicory due to its popularity in Italian cuisine, particularly in the Veneto region.
The most common variety is the Chioggia, which is the round radicchio you would typically find in the supermarket. By the way, did you know that the different varieties of radicchio are named after the region they are from?
How Do You Pronounce Radicchio?
Radicchio is an Italian word, and the ‘h’ is therefore silent.
Is Radicchio Bitter?
It sure is! Radicchio is notorious for being bitter and even slightly spicy or peppery, which is, in fact, the drawcard for this vegetable and why people love it so much.
The reason it is bitter is because it has natural chemical compounds which are released when the vegetable is cut. These compounds, however, can be toned down by soaking them in cold water for a couple of hours or even when you cook it.
In salads, radicchio is often paired strategically with other components that are perhaps on the sweeter side to counteract the bitterness. In this salad, we have done exactly that by adding homemade pickled red onions and fresh pomegranate arils.
If you love this bitter taste and the crunch of the leaves, you can try them in our Radicchio, Baby Gem, Orange and Ruby Grapefruit Salad or Swiss Brown Mushroom Salad with Chickpeas.
Different Types of Beetroot
I love seeing all the different varieties of beetroot all beautifully lined up in the market. They are so stunning to look at and of course simply delicious to eat.
In most cases, we eat beetroot cooked either by boiling or roasting them. For this salad, we are going to eat them raw, thinly sliced and crunchy!
The red beetroot is the most common of all the beetroot. It’s the sweetest of the varieties and the easiest to procure. A good roasted beetroot is such a delicious side to serve up with a good lamb roast.
The golden beetroot is a mellower beetroot with its gorgeous yellow hues. It is less earthy and not as sweet. The great advantage of using the golden beetroot is that it doesn’t stain like the red beetroot does.
The candy-striped beetroot is by far the prettiest of its varieties. I think it’s incredible that a vegetable could have these gorgeous wheels of brilliant red and cream.
The candy-striped beetroot also has many different names, namely candy-cane beetroot, target beetroot, bull eye’s beetroot and also most commonly called Chioggia beetroot.
Yes! Chioggia again! I thought I’d pay a small homage to this small little fishing village near Venice! The reason this beetroot is also called Chioggia, like the radicchio, is because it was first harvested there in the early 1800s.
Chioggia certainly had some gifted cultivators!
How to Make Beetroot Salad with Radicchio and Pomegranate
How To Pickle Red Onions
In a jar, add ½ cup white wine vinegar, 1 tbsp sugar, 1 tsp salt and warm water. Mix until everything is dissolved and well mixed through.
Cut the red onion into thin slices. Add to the pickling mixture and place in the fridge for a minimum of 2 hours. Overnight would be best.
We only need half of the red onions but if you want to pickle the whole onion, just double the recipe, and you’ll have some additional pickled onions for another occasion.
How To Prepare The Rest Of The Salad
Cut the pomegranate in half. Tap the back of one half with a wooden spoon and remove the arils. Set aside.
Cut the radicchio into ¼. Remove the leaves. You can hand tear the larger leaves into smaller pieces.
Peel the beetroot. Slice thinly with a mandoline.
Careful hand pick the leaves off the chervil for garnish.
How To Make French Dressing
Mix the olive oil, white wine vinegar, sugar and Dijon mustard until well combined.
You can omit the sugar if you like but it helps to cut through the bitterness of the radicchio.
How to Assemble the Salad
Drain the pickled onions and set aside to dry.
In a medium mixing bowl, add the pickled onions, beetroot, radicchio and dressing. Toss until well combined.
On 2 separate plates, place the tossed salad haphazardly — half portion on each. The reason we are doing this is because we want a sparse look.
Garnish both plates with pomegranate arils and chervil.
Season with salt and pepper.
Delicious salad! Let the stunning red and pink hues of the fruit and vegetables allow you to create a beetroot salad that is also too pretty to eat. It’s bitterness undertones and pops of sweetness as well as the tart dressing is a great side dish to complement a heavy main course.
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Beetroot Salad with Radicchio and Pomegranate
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- In a jar, add ½ cup white wine vinegar, 1 tbsp sugar, 1 tsp salt and warm water. Mix until everything is dissolved and well mixed through.
- Cut the red onion into thin slices. Add to the pickling mixture and place in the fridge for a minimum of 2 hours. Overnight would be best.
- Cut the pomegranate in half. Tap the back of one half with a wooden spoon and remove the arils. Set aside.
- Cut the radicchio into ¼. Remove the leaves. You can hand tear the larger leaves into smaller pieces.
- Peel the beetroot. Slice thinly with a mandoline.
- Carefully hand pick the leaves off the chervil for garnish.
- Mix the olive oil, white wine vinegar, sugar and Dijon mustard until well combined.
- Drain the pickled onions and set aside to dry.
- In a medium mixing bowl, add the pickled onions, beetroot, radicchio and dressing. Toss until well combined.
- On 2 separate plates, place the tossed salad haphazardly – half portion on each. The reason we are doing this is because we want a sparse look.
- Garnish both plates with pomegranate arils and chervil.
- Season with salt and pepper.
- You can, of course, serve all the salad on one plate or perhaps an oversized platter.
- You can use any beetroot if you’re unable to find the Chioggia beetroot.
- To reduce the bitterness of the radicchio, soak it in cold water for 2 hours, the same amount of time as pickling the onions.
- The best substitute for chervil is parsley as it’s a distant cousin.
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