Seared Radicchio with Mozzarella

Once your pan is hot, sear the radicchio, turn down the heat, then let it cook slowly.  It comes out with just enough bitterness to be enjoyable.  Serve it as a side dish or as a vegetarian entrée with a mound of soft polenta.  The bitter, sweet, and nutty flavors of the radicchio and the corn make a great match.

1 head radicchio
3 T olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 garlic clove, minced
2 T balsamic vinegar
1 (4-oz.) ball fresh mozzarella, cut into thin rounds

Rinse the radicchio, then cut it into wedges about 1 ½ inches across, keeping the root ends intact. Brush generously with olive oil and season well with salt and pepper.  Heat a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat.  When it’s good and hot, add the radicchio.  Press down on the wedges to ensure contact, reduce the heat to medium-low, and cook until browned, about 5 minutes.  Turn and cook on the second side.  The red will turn brownish, and the leaves should get crisp in places.

Scatter the garlic over the radicchio, add the vinegar, and cover with the cheese.  Cover the pan and cook just until the cheese is soft, 2 or 3 minutes.  Season with pepper, arrange on a platter, and serve.

Recipe by Deborah Madison, from Local Flavors