A few weeks ago I had a craving for radicchio after listening to CBC’s The Next Chapter interview with ‘Bitter’ author, Jennifer McLagan (she’s also the author of the well-loved ‘Fat‘ cookbook). As a cookbook reader and hoarder, I was pleased to hear an author discuss this under-appreciated taste and could hardly wait to learn more about the world of bitter vegetables. My sister is another bitter vegetable lover. Her favourite, dandelion greens with olive oil and coarse salt. Perhaps the Day girls have a bitter gene (not speaking personality-wise, ahem), or perhaps we just like our food to bite back a little. To quote Claire Fisher from Six Feet Under, “…if it doesn’t hurt a little bit, it’s not really worth eating.”
Now, before I go on, does the name of this salad mean anything to you? It’s a bit of a jumble but I’ll walk you through it.
It was only after I named this recipe that I realized that most of the ingredients used likely need a pronunciation key. We’ll get through it together. Grab my hand.
Dukkah (doo-KAH): An Egyptian dry condiment made from nuts, spices, and herbs. Dukkah is often used as an appetizer (dip bread in oil, then dukkah), but can be sprinkled on salads (as I’ve done here), toast, beans, pasta, or wherever else you think needs dukkah-ing. I’ve linked to a recipe below, however, I’m sure it’s available in stores in larger cities. I make my own because 1) It’s easy and 2) I live in the middle of nowhere.
Radicchio (ra-DEEK-ee-oh): A chicory, also known as red chicory or red endive. Chicories are known for their astringent, bold edge, and unique shapes. Radicchio has wonderfully tender leaves that can be eaten raw, roasted, braised, or grilled. I love to stir it into pasta for sharpness, along with balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and pepper, topping it with some tangy goat cheese and pine nuts––super simple and so satisfying. A bit of a grown-up taste, I’d say (it’s not for everyone). If you’d like to get your feet wet in the world of bitter vegetables, start with a touch of radicchio shredded into a green salad.
Kabocha (ka-BO-cha): A hearty winter squash with a thin evergreen skin and tangerine-coloured flesh. Alternative names include: Baby Red Hubbard, Hokkaido Pumpkin, Japanese Pumpkin, Red Kuri. Acceptable substitute: Buttercup or Turban squash. Sweet, very dry, creamy, and starchy. I love it with a miso glaze including a little maple syrup, tamari, and sesame oil.
Harissa (hah-REE-sah): Prominent in North African cuisine, harissa (usually found as a paste), is brick red, loaded with chilis, spices, and often, lemon. It’s quite strong, so employ it judiciously. Make your own or purchase a jar, adding it to dishes as a spice concentrate (thin with stock, oil, yogurt, sour cream, etc.). Here it’s mixed with creamy yogurt to cut the spice, along with nutty tahini paste and zippy lemon.
See, not so bad. You did it! (And then, of course, there’s parsley and currants, but I’ll assume you know what those are.)
This salad keeps well for a few days and the dressing will keep for up to a week, so go just totally insane and make the whole recipe.
Happy dukkah-ing, friends.
- 1 (2 pound) kabocha squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into ½-inch cubes
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- 1 head radicchio, roughly chopped
- 1 bunch flat leaf parley, tough stems removed, leaves left whole
- ¼ cup dried currants
- ¼ cup dukkah (purchased or make your own; recipe here)
- 1 heaping tablespoon harissa paste
- 1 cup whole milk plain yogurt (not Greek)
- ⅓ cup tahini
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- Make the roasted squash: Preheat oven to 400ºF. On a large rimmed baking sheet, combine squash, oil, and salt. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until tender. Set aside.
- Make the Harissa Yogurt: In a medium bowl, whisk all dressing ingredients until fully incorporated. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
- To Serve: (Option 1) In 1 large salad bowl or 4 large, deep bowls, arrange compartments of roasted squash, radicchio, parsley, currants, and dukkah. Drizzle with dressing (you won’t use it all) and serve chilled or room temperature. (Option 2) In a large salad bowl, combine roasted squash and remaining salad ingredients, along with ½ to ¾ of the dressing; toss to combine and serve.