I have to start off with a big apology. I just looked on this blog and realized my last post was published right before New Year’s Eve. Yikes! I have been trying so hard to fit in time to write, but the start of the year was totally bananas over here. And once you stop doing something, it’s really hard to get started again, ya know??
I got married in February, so the start of the year was nonstop wedding planning, which is not as fun as you might expect when you’re also a full-time student, trying to heal your body, and have a habit of stressing yourself out unnecessarily. I did the meditation and yoga thing at home a lot, but it left very little time for recipe development, or even cooking a nice meal. After that, it was exam central, spring break in the sunshine (thanks for the beautiful weather, Florida!), and straight back to school.
In case you wanted to see what a February wedding looks like in Toronto, here we are (and, yes, I’m freezing my butt off, despite my pleasant expression):
This roasted radicchio is something I have been making a lot during the winter. I know, it’s totally out of season, but I’m addicted and once I started making it I just couldn’t stop. The bittersweet warmth of it was perfect on chilly nights, especially drizzled with some good olive oil or tahini.
Good news: spring is on the way! That means plenty of greens are coming, like radicchio and other forms of chicory (FYI it’s not a cabbage or lettuce; it’s part of the chicory family), and more bitter leaves, including arugula and dandelion greens.
Radicchio is one of those mysterious vegetables that has the ability to taste totally amazing, but also kind of icky. However, if you treat it with a little TLC, fresh or roasted, it can be a wonderful addition to your meal. The reason radicchio gets a bad rap is due to its bitter qualities—but that’s actually one of the aspects of the vegetable that makes it so amazing. The flavour combines beautifully with sweeter greens and acids, including one of my favourites: balsamic vinegar.
Personally, I’ve been giving my liver a little extra love lately with bitter vegetables, since they stimulate your liver to produce bile, which aids in digestion and removes waste from your body. Due to some recent test results indicating I have some pretty rough digestive issues and am not detoxifying certain hormones and toxins very well, it’s particularly important to give my liver some extra support. However, regardless of your health situation, a lot of people need some help in this area, especially if you don’t eat many bitter foods. Sluggish digestion, clogged pores, hormonal imbalances or even brain fog can be signs that your liver needs some help.
Some other good stuff? There are a number of nutrients found in radicchio that fight liver and colon cancers and contain high levels of Vitamin K, which is protective against a number of cancers. In addition, Vitamin K is essential for bone health, aiding in proper absorption of calcium. Note that most nutrients are more plentiful in organic vegetables, so it’s probably worth the extra dollar. (I usually only eat about a quarter of a head at a time, along with other veggies, so a little goes a long way.) In addition, since it’s a leafy vegetable, there is a lot more surface area for those chemicals to stick to, so it’s always good to go organic with any sort of lettuce or leaf. More here.
A note on balsamic vinegar: you don’t need the super-thick fancy balsamic when you’re roasting veggies; the sweet-tangy flavour is the most important part. However, check the label because a lot of balsamic vinegars are full of junk that doesn’t need to be there. It should contain grape must and red wine vinegar. If there are added sugars and caramel colouring, put it back.
Simple roasted radicchio
- 1 head radicchio
- 2 Tb extra virgin olive oil
- 1 Tb balsamic vinegar plus extra for finishing
- Salt and pepper
- Preheat oven to 375°F.
- Wash and dry the whole head of radicchio.
- Slice the radicchio into 8 slices, keeping the root intact. Cut it in half, then quarters, then cut each quarter in half, like you would slice up an orange. You cut it with the root intact so that all the pieces stay together, but if they fall apart a little, don’t worry!
- Rub the olive oil all over the radicchio slices, or use a brush. If you need a little more olive oil to coat the slices, go for it. (I never measure.)
- Place the radicchio on a baking sheet or dish in a single layer and drizzle the balsamic on top. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Bake for about 12 minutes, until the edges start to turn golden.
- Remove from oven, sprinkle a little extra balsamic and salt (I like to use the flaky stuff), and serve. It’s great at room temperature, so you can make it ahead of time if necessary.