Figs, roast onions, walnuts and radicchio

Figs, roast onions, walnuts and radicchio

By
From
Real Food by Mike
Serves
4
Photographer
Alan Benson

This salad is all about the sweet flavours of the figs and onions being balanced by the bitter flavours of the radicchio leaves. Other bitter leaves, such as chicory, trevisiano or dandelion are a good substitute for the radicchio. The salad can be served warm, or made in advance and served at room temperature.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
1 large head radicchio
sea salt or himalayan rock salt
2 small red onions
8 figs, sliced or quartered
extra-virgin olive oil, if needed
balsamic vinegar, if needed
maple vinaigrette
250g activated walnuts
1/4 bunch mint, leaves picked

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 150°C.
  2. Cut the radicchio into large wedges and toss it with some salt in a bowl. Allow the radicchio to bleed for 30 minutes – this will bring out its colour and make it slightly tender, but keep it crisp for the salad without cooking.
  3. In a roasting tin, on a little bed of sea salt, roast the onions in their skins for 2 hours. When they are cooked, cut off the onion tops and squeeze out the slow-baked onion flesh.
  4. If the figs are at the height of their season and absolutely perfect, I wouldn’t want to do anything but leave them as they are. If they are a little dry, I suggest you halve them, drizzle over a tiny dash of olive oil, balsamic vinegar and salt and warm them in a 150°C oven until they go soft. This will in some way bring their flavour back to life.
  5. To construct the salad, you can serve everything straight from the roasting tin. Or, to compose a more delicately styled salad, toss the radicchio with a very small amount of the maple vinaigrette and scatter it on a serving plate. Toss the onions in more vinaigrette and strew them over the radicchio. Scatter the figs and walnuts on top, and spoon over more vinaigrette. A final scattering of mint leaves adds a fresh zing.

Medicinal Benefit

  • Figs are particularly rich in polyphenols, chemicals that have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anticarcinogenic properties. They contain vitamins A, E and K, plus something called chlorogenic acid. This helps slow down the body’s absorption of fat from a regular food intake, and can help balance blood sugar levels. Radicchio contains a unique compound called lactucopicrin, which gives it its characteristic bitter flavour. This compound is said to have a potent sedative and painkiller effect.
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