When cooking red radicchio, you can brighten its colour by adding an acid like vinegar or lemon to it. No matter what variety you buy, remember that radicchio likes to be moist, if not wet. So, once purchased, place it, if it isn't needed immediately, in a Ziploc bag to extend its life. Once you've cut it up, place it in a bowl with cold water to remove the bitterness. It can be stored like that in the refrigerator for up to four days.
The dish featured here is one of my favourite winter salads. The chestnuts are readily available and easy to prepare: Just make an incision in the skins and boil them for 10 to 15 minutes.
Once cool, the skin will separate easily.
Ready time: 20 minutes
1 cup radicchio, shredded
1 cup Belgian endive, shredded
1 cup frisée, in bite-sized pieces
½ cup shallots or onions, julienned
1 cup pancetta or bacon, diced in 1-inch pieces
1 teaspoon honey
2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar and an extra splash (divided)
1½ cup squash, roasted and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 cup chestnuts, roasted and peeled
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 eggs, poached
Salt and pepper to taste
Parmigiano-Reggiano shavings for topping, to taste
Place the lettuces in a bowl, toss well and set aside while you prepare the vinaigrette.
To make the vinaigrette, heat a sauté pan on medium. Warm the oil, then add shallots and pancetta and cook until shallots are translucent and pancetta is rendered.
Add honey and a splash of vinegar, let it evaporate for a few seconds, then add the squash and chestnuts and remove from heat. Let cool for 1 minute.
Pour 3 inches water into a large saucepan, bring to boil and add 2 tablespoons vinegar. Reduce heat to a simmer.
Break each egg individually into a small ramekin, gently slide egg into simmering water and cook until done to your liking.
Toss salad with dressing mixture and divide among four plates. Top each mound with an egg and serve immediately with a generous shaving of Parmigiano.
Chef Massimo Capra is co-owner of Mistura and Sopra Upper Lounge in Toronto and the Rainbow Room Fallsview Restaurant in Niagara Falls, Ont. His latest book, 3 Chefs: The Kitchen Men , was recently published by Whitecap Books.