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Mar 18, 2018
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By the Book: Russell Norman’s Grissini, Pickled Radicchio & Salami

July 2nd 12:07pm, 2013

I tend to think of Italian cooking – no matter the region – as minimalist cooking because that nation doesn’t complicate its food. When you have fresh produce and protein, why weigh them down with umpteen ingredients? Russell Norman extols this philosophy in Venetian cookery – whether it be the preparation of antipasti, vegetables, meat or fish-based entrees, desserts and even drinks – in his book Polpo: A Venetian Cookbook (of Sorts), whose recipes hail from Norman’s small-plates restaurant Polpo in London’s Soho district.

When I’m entertaining in the heat of summer, I like to serve something light, yet just filling enough to tide guests over until dinner’s ready. Norman’s recipe for grissini, pickled radicchio and salami sounded perfect. Moreover, this appetizer of lettuce wound around cured meat wound around a breadstick – Norman described it as a savory lollipop – seemed like a smart option for impromptu dinners; you purchase the grissini and salami, so the only thing you need to make is the pickled radicchio.


The easiest way to separate the radicchio leaves from the tight bulb is to cut out the core. Then gently peel them away one by one. Put them in a bowl of water, then lift them out in order to leave behind any dirt or residue and let drain in a colander.



The radicchio gets quick-pickled in a brine of white wine, white vinegar and juniper berries. The brine only amounts to about 2 cups, and I didn’t want the liquid to evaporate away while I kept it at a boil for 5 minutes. So rather than crowd a large saucepan with all the radicchio at once, I used a medium-sized saucepan and pickled the lettuce in groups.



The assembly is the most difficult part to this easiest of dishes. After winding Volpi sausage around the breadsticks, a fussy home cook will want to cut or tear the pickled radicchio into strips to make it easier to loop the lettuce around the salami and show off the deep magenta of the cooked radicchio. No matter how haphazard the assembly, the vinegary flavor of the radicchio plus the salty, fatty salami and the crunch of breadstick makes one fine bite. And since you’ve used only a scant cup of wine to pickle the radicchio, the bottle’s already open. All you’ve got to do is grab a glass and pour. Don’t you love easy entertaining?

Grissini, Pickled Radicchio & Salami
20 grissini

200ml white wine
200ml white wine vinegar
4 juniper berries
20 radicchio leaves
Extra virgin olive oil
20 grissini (breadsticks)
20 thin slices salami

• Bring the white wine and the white wine vinegar to a boil with the juniper berries.
• When the liquid is bubbling, submerge the radicchio leaves for 5 minutes.
• Take off the heat, remove the radicchio with tongs, and gently shake off any excess liquid.
• Keep the pickled leaves covered in olive oil. When you are ready to use them, take out the leaves and drain them slightly of any excess oil.
• Wrap the top end of the grissini with a piece of pickled radicchio and a slice of salami.

What’s your favorite appetizer to make during the summer? Tell us in the comments section below for a chance to win a copy of Polpo: A Venetian Cookbook (of Sorts) by Russell Norman. We’ll announce the winner in next week’s By the Book column.

And now, we’d like to congratulate Ian, whose comment on last week’s By the Book has won him a copy of Burma: Rivers of Flavor. Ian, keep an eye out for an email from the Sauce crew.



By Ligaya Figueras

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4 Responses to “By the Book: Russell Norman’s Grissini, Pickled Radicchio & Salami”

  1. Antje Says:
    July 2nd, 2013 at 12:48 pm

    I love to make corn salsa and serve it with homemade tortilla chips. It’s so cool, refreshing, and tasty!

  2. Lesley Says:
    July 2nd, 2013 at 2:27 pm

    I’m a sucker for caprese salad anytime of year, but especially during the summer. Delicious fresh mozzarella from Marcoot, farmer’s market tomatoes and fresh basil from the garden…can’t get enough of it.

    Also, I visited London in March, had dinner at Polpo and have been thinking about this cookbook ever since. They even gave out a recipe at the restaurant that looks like another delicious summer treat. It’s for Zucchini, Basil & Parmesan Salad, which they say is one of their most requested recipes and it’s been sitting on my desk for the past several months, so thought I’d share –

    Mix the juice of 1 lemon with 6 tablespoons of EVOO, 2 heaped tablespoons of finely grated Parmesan and a little salt and pepper. Next, slice the zucchini on an angle (as thinly as possible – they say to use a mandoline if you have one) and put into a bowl. Mix the zucchini with 1 large handful of rocket leaves, 1 small handful of basil leaves and enough of the dressing to coat (but not douse).

  3. Kristin Says:
    July 3rd, 2013 at 8:05 am

    Tzatziki with pita (Athens Hilton recipe)

  4. Jessica Says:
    July 7th, 2013 at 8:30 am

    My favorite summer appetizer is a caprese salad skewer. They are so easy and pretty too!

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