Radicchio Quinoa Salad with Dijon Vinaigrette


Radicchio is my new kale. I wasn't sure how I was going to use this beautiful head of radicchio at first, because originally I bought it as fancy garnish for a garden party we were having in our backyard. But the radicchio beckoned for a more purposeful meaning in its shelf life, hiding among the greens in my produce bin.

Reasons to use this pretty purple red-headed chicory came and went, as recipe ideas go. I was thinking to roast the leaves and add to a vegetable dish, or top a homemade cauliflower pizza with shreds of its delicate magenta leaves.

Yet, nothing happened to the radicchio. It sat, huddled in the greens bin, forgotten.

Then one afternoon, while I had spent most of the day doing things around the house, not eating anything solidly nameable as a proper meal, per se, I decided to rummage together a salad, as the heat was strongly bearing upon us in late afternoon. I had no intention of turning on the stove or oven.

I had a lonely mango jicama slaw pre-made in a container, patiently waiting to be eaten, leftover red quinoa in another container, a radish, a few straggly leaves of lacinato kale, roasted corn off the cob in garlic that I made a few nights ago (it was still delicious), and some Dijon mustard. Then I had remembered: the radicchio.

Since I used leftovers from my fridge for this salad, I can't truly give a follow-along recipe with exact measurements for this post, but I can encourage you to try this flavor combination. You might think that radicchio is too bitter to be combined with dark leafy kale and radishes, and to add, a Dijon vinaigrette. But when combined with mango, jicama, fresh roasted corn and red quinoa, there is a nice balance to it.

(By the way, I am known to avoid leftovers and rarely re-purpose food left in the fridge that I've deemed suspect. There is a small chalkboard in my kitchen, as I'm tempted to write on it as professional chefs do -- "86 the kale" and "86 the hummus" -- when keeping all perishables fresh and tossing the potentially spoiled things. My sweetheart and I rarely fight, but one of the most memorable kitchen quibbles was over my throwing out his two week old leftover Sichuan pig brains in a styrofoam take-out container. I thought it was funny when he fumed over my "throwing his brains out" and I snickered back, "yes I know, a mind is a terrible thing to waste" to which did not get a reply, but a stonewall of silence. Two weeks is a little too long for questionable leftovers in my kitchen.) 

This salad is complex with flavors and textures. The red quinoa gives it some earthy body and feels nourishing, while the zing of radish and Dijon mingles with the sweetness of roasted corn.

There was suddenly a way to use the radicchio. I vow never to leave it lonely again.

Here are the ingredients so you can create your own version of this salad:

Radicchio Quinoa Salad

  • 1/2 head radicchio, shredded

  • 1/2 cup red quinoa, cooked

  • 12 oz. mango jicama slaw (Trader Joe's)

  • 1/2 cup roasted corn

  • 2 leaves lacinato kale, chopped

  • 1 radish, halved and sliced

Dijon vinaigrette

  • 1/2 shallot

  • 2 tbl apple cider vinegar

  • 3 tbl Dijon mustard, I use Maille brand

  • 6 tbl olive oil

  • squeeze of 1/2 lemon

  • sea salt & ground pepper, to taste

Prepare the Dijon vinaigrette at the bottom of a wooden salad bowl.

Combine the salad ingredients and toss.

Serve and enjoy.