Culinary crushes are nothing new in this food-obsessed world we live in. Half of the women (and a few of the men) that I know would love to get some one-on-one time with Tony Bourdain. I, on the other hand, swing more towards domestic divas who have a way with words and can rock it out in the kitchen. Sure I love Martha, but one of my main crushes in the culinary sense is Molly Wizenberg.
I didn’t know much about her beforehand, but when I began getting a subscription to Bon Appetit years ago, I realized how much I looked forward to her monthly column, The Cooking Life. I enjoyed reading about her life, her family and her cooking experiences and slowly began following her blog Orangette as well.
In Bon Appetit, I remember reading about her and her husband moving to Seattle to start a pizza place. I was so excited when a few months later he actually called the company I work for to buy some meat. While taking his order on the phone, I was tempted to ask if he could pass along my undying devotion to his wife. Sure, it would have been a little creepy, but I’m not above that — I once, in person, told Jennifer Aniston that I loved her because she was so pretty.
Happily I managed to restrain myself this time!
At any rate, throughout the past few years (before her column ended), I’ve accumulated many of her Bon Appetit recipes — carefully filed in my binder, waiting for their day to shine. Last weekend, I rediscovered this one from September 2010. I was preparing a meal full of decadence (more on this soon, but it involved some full blood Wagyu beef!) and was in desperate need of a refreshing side dish to cut through all of the fat.
I love radicchio for its bitter bite and Molly’s Roasted Radicchio Salad with Lemon and Breadcrumbs seemed up for the challenge. Even though it’s not mentioned in the recipe, I would suggest soaking your radicchio first, unless you like really astringent flavors. I find just an hour in water will temper the sting. Then drain and dry thoroughly before brushing with oil and popping in your preheated oven.
After it is just lightly brown, flip it and cook another few minutes. The beauty of this recipe is its speed! But be warned, your pretty bright purple radicchio will darken considerably after its visit to the oven.
When the radicchio is done, the outer leaves will be tender and the thicker ones will retain some crunch. Toss the warm pieces in the anchovy vinaigrette, which is very similar to a Caesar dressing without the egg to bind it. It was delicious, by the way — the anchovies added depth and only a slight fishy flavor, but the lemon kept it fresh and the cheese gave it tang. With the radicchio, it was a perfect match.
The rest of the dish was simple: it calls for strips of preserved lemon and a sprinkling of toasted breadcrumbs. I had preserved lemons on hand already so I didn’t try out the “quick preserved lemon” part of the recipe — though I’m going to keep it on my radar for the future. I did make her toasted breadcrumbs, and though mine were of a smaller grind, they still gave a nice crunch.
I also added an embellishment of extra grated cheese because I have never been in a situation where more cheese was a bad thing.
End result? Divine. Totally making this one again and again…My crush lives on!