This crowd-pleasing Mediterranean Radicchio Salad with Olives is dressed in a creamy Tarragon Vinaigrette. Layered with olives, almonds, breadcrumbs, and Manchego cheese, you can count on this bright and peppery salad when you need an exciting side dish for dinner!Jump to Recipe
Radicchio salad recipe with olives and almonds
If you’re a fan of bitter and peppery flavors, you’re bound to fall in love with radicchio lettuce. It’s one of my favorite substitutions for leafy greens in traditional salads, like this Radicchio Caesar Salad and Radicchio Salad with Creamy Ranch Dressing. Its natural bitterness is a welcome partner to creamy dressings, vinaigrettes, and toppings.
This bright, bitter, and briny Mediterranean Radicchio Salad with Olives features classic Mediterranean toppings, like Castlevetrano olives, Marcona almonds, and Manchego cheese. In addition, gluten free breadcrumbs on top gives this crowd-pleasing salad an extra satisfying crunch!
No need to worry about this salad tasting too strong or bitter. Soaking the radicchio leaves in ice water beforehand and drizzling the complimentary creamy Tarragon Vinaigrette on top tones down any strong flavors. In the end, you simply have a deliciously tangy, vibrant, and herbaceous salad!
Tools you need for this radicchio salad recipe
What is radicchio lettuce?
Radicchio is a type of chicory that has large red leaves and white veins, just like red cabbage. The leaves are crunchy with a bitter taste but can add richness to all kinds of meals, like risotto or pasta.
- Radicchio lettuce – Making a salad with radicchio means every bite will have strong flavors and a slight bitterness. It pairs so nicely next to the briny olives and creamy almonds and cheese. When shopping, look for a radicchio that has bright colors and feels firm to the touch.
- Castlevetrano olives – This is what gives the salad its signature briny flavor. Bon Appetit claims Castelvetrano olives are the best and I couldn’t agree more!
- Marcona almonds – These buttery, gourmet Mediterranean almonds add so much charm to this salad. Just like Macadamia nuts, the almonds have a sweet flavor and a soft texture. If you can’t find Marcona almonds, feel free to swap them with regular unsalted California almonds.
- Breadcrumbs – I used gluten free panko breadcrumbs but you can use regular breadcrumbs if you don’t need the salad to be gluten free.
- Manchego cheese – This Spanish cheese has a subtly sweet flavor and notes of fruits and nuts. If you can’t find Manchego, use freshly shaved parmesan or Pecorino-Romano.
- Tarragon mustard vinaigrette – This bright, tangy, and herbaceous salad dressing is made with fresh tarragon, mustard, shallots, and red wine vinegar. It can easily be made up to 2 weeks ahead of time so you don’t have to rush when putting the radicchio salad together.
How to make radicchio salad with olives
- Prepare the radicchio lettuce.
Cut the radicchio into quarters and remove the core, then place the quarters into a large bowl with ice water. Using your hands, squeeze the leaves to help release the bitterness. Dry the lettuce really well with a salad spinner or a clean kitchen towel.
- Dress the leaves in tarragon dressing.
Pour the tarragon salad dressing into a large salad bowl. Add the dried radicchio leaves and toss to coat.
- Assemble the salad.
Layer the olives, almonds, and breadcrumbs on the salad and toss to coat in dressing. To finish, top the salad with shaved manchego cheese, then serve and enjoy!
Making chicory salad ahead of time
To make ahead: You can make the tarragon vinaigrette 2 weeks ahead of time and keep it in your fridge until it’s time to assemble the salad. Otherwise, you can prepare the radicchio and toppings 1 to 2 days ahead and keep them in separate containers in the fridge. Toss everything together right before serving and enjoy!
To store: The assembled salad will hold up for about a day in the fridge but the breadcrumbs will become soggy if it sits for too long.
Frequently asked questions
Yes, radicchio is often served raw in salads. However, if you prefer to cook it, radicchio can be grilled or sauteed to help remove the bitter flavor.
The secret to making radicchio less bitter is to soak the leaves in ice water for about 10 minutes. Squeeze the leaves with your hands to drain as much bitterness as possible. As a result of this soak, your radicchio will be tender, slightly peppery, and delicious!
Looking for more Mediterranean salad recipes?
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Mediterranean Radicchio Salad with Olives and Tarragon Vinaigrette
- Prepare radicchio by cutting it in quarters, then cutting the core out.
- Add radicchio to a large bowl with ice-cold water. With your hands, gently squeeze the radicchio to help release bitterness.
- Using a salad spinner, spin the water out of the radicchio. Or use a towel to gently pat the radicchio dry.
- Add dressing to a bowl, then add the radicchio. Gently toss with the dressing.
- Add the olives, almonds, breadcrumbs and toss.
- Now add to a serving platter and top with shaved manchego cheese. Serve and enjoy.