I got so excited when I found lovely heads of rosy radicchio at the farmers’ market.  I could buy radicchio just for the way the name “rah-deek-yo” rolls off the tongue.

In this recipe, radicchio roasted and dressed with balsamic syrup mellows and takes on an entirely new flavor, becoming sweeter and less bitter.  I used some very special bourbon maple balsamic I’d been hoarding, and it was superb.

Make friends with radicchio if you haven’t already. Buy it for its name, beauty and flavor.

Ingredients:

2 heads radicchio, at least 1 pound total

2 Tbsp. olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar (use your best)

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

2 teaspoons maple syrup

2 Tbsp. dried cranberries

3 Tbsp. chopped smoked almonds

2 Tbsp. finely chopped parsley

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

2. Remove any wilted or bruised outer leaves from the radicchio, then cut the heads in half lengthwise through the core. Place halves cut-side down, then cut each half into four wedges, leaving the root end intact.

3. In a large bowl, gently toss the wedges with olive oil, plus a little salt and pepper. Top a sheet pan with parchment and place wedges cut side down on it. Roast the radicchio for 15 minutes, then turn the wedges over and roast for another 12 minutes or so, until the leaves are starting to caramelize and wilt and become crisp around the edges.

4. While the radicchio is roasting, make the balsamic syrup. In a small saucepan, whisk together balsamic, mustard and maple syrup. Cook and whisk on medium low heat for 7 minutes, until reduced and syrupy. Remove pan from heat and stir in cranberries and almonds.  Keep warm until radicchio has finished roasting.

5. Transfer the roasted radicchio to a serving platter and drizzle with the balsamic syrup. Scatter parsley over the top and serve warm or at room temperature.

Wendy Andresen lives in Camden with her husband, Ray; her Sheltie, Sunshine; and her bunny, Rustle. She welcomes responses to her column at wendyandrayzer@yahoo.com.

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