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Grilled Chicory Salad With Chile-Fennel Dressing

Grilled Chicory Salad With Chile-Fennel Dressing

Something truly magical happens when you grill chicories. Their sharpness starts to mellow, giving way to a subtle sweetness and nutty flavor. Their outer leaves caramelize and char, taking on a delicate smokiness.


  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 2 medium garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 serrano chile, whole
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 pounds mixed chicories, like endive, Treviso, radicchio, or Castelfranco
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Flaky salt, such as Maldon or fleur de sel, for garnishing


  1. Preheat the grill to medium-high heat. If you’re using a charcoal grill, let the coals cool a bit, so they are not red hot. Alternatively, you can use a grill pan and grill the chicories in batches at high heat.
  2. While the grill is heating, make the dressing. To start, toast the fennel seeds. Heat a small skillet over medium-high heat. Add the fennel seeds and cook until they start to turn golden and fragrant, about 30 seconds to 1 minute. Transfer the toasted fennel seeds to a mortar and pound the seeds into a very coarse powder.
  3. Roughly chop the garlic and chile and transfer to the mortar. Add the salt and pound into a paste. (Alternatively, if you don’t have a mortar and pestle, you can roughly chop the toasted fennel seeds and microplane the whole garlic cloves and whole chile. You’ll just add the salt along with the lemon juice in the next step.)
  4. Transfer the chile-fennel paste to a medium bowl. Add the lemon juice and whisk to combine. Allow to macerate for 5–10 minutes at room temperature (this will infuse all that spicy fennel-y goodness into the dressing). To finish the dressing, slowly whisk the olive oil into the mixture, in a slow, steady stream. Continue to whisk in the olive oil until the dressing is emulsified. Set aside.
  5. Cut the smaller chicories (like endive and Treviso) in half and any larger, tighter headed chicories (like radicchio and Castelfranco) into quarters. Place on a sheet pan. Brush every surface of the cut chicories with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
  6. Place the chicories, cut side down onto the grill. Grill the greens until they start to char and begin to wilt, about 1–3 minutes for the smaller chicories and 2–4 minutes for the larger ones. Flip and continue to cook until the outer leaves start to turn golden brown, about another 1–2 minutes. For the larger chicories, you’ll have to rotate them three times, cooking them on both cut sides and the outer side. As the chicories are cooked, remove them from the grill and transfer them back to the sheet pan.
  7. To assemble the dish, arrange the grilled chicories on a serving platter, pulling the leaves apart slightly. Give the reserved dressing another whisk to re-emulsify it, if you need to, and spoon over the grilled chicories, making sure to get it in all the nooks and crannies of the greens. Finish with a sprinkling of flaky salt and serve warm or at room temperature.

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