Radicchio Caesar Salad

Radicchio puts a whole new spin on Caesar salad! We saw this on the menu at Nostrana, a fantastic Italian bistro-style restaurant in Portland, Oregon on our recent trip there, and being big radicchio fans, we naturally ordered it! We were blown away by how delicious it was! It is such a fun take on the traditional Caesar. Ever since we enjoyed this amazing salad, we’ve been making our own with radicchio, grated Pecorino Romano, homemade sourdough bread croutons, and Caesar dressing!

If you aren’t familiar with radicchio, this will be a game-changer for you! While it looks like a small head of red cabbage, it’s not cabbage at all, but rather a member of the chicory family. It’s a beautiful purplish-red color with variegated leaves accented with white veins. It’s slightly bitter, which is the perfect complement to the tangy taste of Caesar or Italian herb dressings. And, if you roast it or grill it, the radicchio takes on a subtle sweetness. Also, if you soak the leaves in ice-cold water for an hour or so, it removes the bitterness, if you don’t like a bitter flavor in your salad!

When selecting the radicchio for your salad, try to choose the nice, crispy leaves. The outer leaves can be a bit wilted, but just remove those and head for the center of the head! You’ll find that the crunchy leaves work better for this salad. If you haven’t had radicchio, it is a bit on the bitter side, which we love with the garlicky Caesar dressing. We use both Parmesan and Pecorino Romano, but really prefer the saltiness of the sheep’s milk Pecorino Romano in both our dressing and scattered over the salad too.

We have a slightly different take than most for our Caesar dressing, which we think is a bit healthier version. Instead of egg yolk and mayonnaise, we use pasteurized egg whites and grated Pecorino Romano cheese in the dressing. This combination gives it a perfect thickness that coats the radicchio leaves beautifully. Anchovies are always delicious in Caesar dressing, but if you are not a fan, then it’s easy to opt-out. If you do use them in the dressing, be sure to smash them before adding them to the dressing. Another option on anchovies, if you have some who love them and some who don’t, is to simply lay two anchovies on top of the salad servings for the anchovy fans!

So, now check out the ingredients and dig in! You’re going to love this salad!

Radicchio Caesar Salad

Radicchio leaves, freshly grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan, and creamy homemade Caesar dressing combine to make this slightly bitter, unique, and tasty Caesar salad.
Servings 4 Servings
Prep Time 15 mins

Equipment

  • 1 Food processor (a mini one works perfectly for this size batch of dressing)

Ingredients

Salad

  • 1 head radicchio, broken into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
  • 1 batch homemade croutons (recipe below)
  • 1 batch homemade Caesar dressing (recipe below)

Creamy Caesar Dressing

  • 2/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • 2 anchovies, smashed with a fork or mortar and pestle *optional
  • 1 shake hot sauce about 1/8 teaspoon
  • 2 shakes Worcestershire Sauce about 1/4 teaspoon
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp. pasteurized egg white (we use the egg whites in the carton for this)
  • 2 tbsp. grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese

Homemade Herbed Croutons

  • 4 slices sourdough bread, 1/4-inch thick, cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces
  • 2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp. salted butter
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper

Instructions

Assemble & Toss Salad

  • Place radicchio leaves in your salad bowl. Toss with Caesar dressing and 1/2 cup of the cheese. Arrange croutons on each plate and pass extra cheese!

Caesar Salad Dressing

  • Place all ingredients in the bowl of your food processor and process until smooth and thickened. Store in the refrigerator in a covered container until ready to serve.

Homemade Herbed Croutons

  • Melt butter along with oil in a skillet. Add all of the herbs and seasonings and cook just until bubbly. Lay bread pieces out flat in the pan to coat the down side with the butter mixture. Quickly turn to coat the other side. Reduce heat to low and cook until croutons are crispy. This could take 15-20 minutes, depending upon the temperature of the burner. Store in an airtight container until ready to serve.
Course: Salad
Keyword: caesar salad, Chinese chicken salad, creamy caesar dressing, Homemade Herbed Croutons

Join the Conversation

  1. This sounds so good! I love radicchio but never thought of using it for making Caesar salad! Great idea!

    1. Thank you so much, Mariela! We had it at a restaurant in Portland on our trip up there! Such a fun idea, we thought, and delicious! The restaurant is called Nostrana, if you want to check it out since you’re in the area! So happy we got to meet you and Sinala! Xoxo, Courtney

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