Radicchio Salad with Apples and Walnuts

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This radicchio salad recipe is the perfect festive recipe to add a touch of magic to your holiday table. Packed with nutritious ingredients, tons of vitamins, and topped with a tangy homemade dressing, this vibrant and colorful salad looks incredible, but it’s super easy to make.

Craving a festive radicchio salad?

Well, good news! I have just the recipe for the job.

At this time of year, I’m always looking for quick and healthy recipes that incorporate seasonal fruits and veggies.

I’ll be the first to admit that those vitamins and minerals really help balance out the amaretti cookies and Christmas cookies that I usually chow down on during the festive season!

Whether you’re searching for a light salad or a stunning side dish for your holiday table, this radicchio salad is perfect.

Plus, it comes together in minutes, stores well, and requires just a handful of ingredients!

What more could you want?

What is Radicchio?

Many people think that Radicchio is a kind of lettuce or cabbage. But this leafy vegetable is actually a member of the chicory family!

This Italian chicory plant has dark red and white leaves and is known for its signature bitter flavor.

So, it always pairs well with mellow ingredients like sweet potatoes and a touch of honey or maple syrup.

After all, opposites attract!

Ingredients You’ll Need

For the salad

  • Radicchio: The star of the show! This leafy vegetable is packed with micronutrients like zinc, vitamin K, and copper. I usually use Chioggia radicchio (the classic round variety) for this recipe, as it’s widely available at grocery stores. But you can grab Treviso, Verona, Castelfranco, or Treviso Tardivo. Just be aware that the last one tastes way better cooked!
  • Russet apples: Russet apples are slightly nutty, tangy, and very sweet, which perfectly contrasts with the natural bitterness of the radicchio. The flesh of these apples is also quite dense, giving the salad an interesting mouthfeel.
  • Toasted walnuts: For crunch, earthiness, and a hefty helping of healthy fats!
  • Spring onion: I love using spring onions to add a burst of herby freshness to any salad. They’re also super nutritious and are packed with copper, phosphorus, magnesium, and vitamins A, C, and B2!
  • Parmesan (optional): A sprinkle of shaved parmesan adds an intense cheesy flavor that balances out the bitter radicchio and pairs beautifully with the sweet dressing. Use blue cheese or goat cheese instead for a stronger taste! Or leave the cheese out altogether for a vegan salad.
top view dressing ingredients of radicchio salad

For the dressing

  • Apple cider vinegar: This ingredient forms the base of the dressing and gives it tons of brightness and acidity. You can use balsamic vinegar or red or white wine vinegar as alternatives.
  • Lemon: Lemon juice keeps the leaves and apples fresh. But it also adds a refreshing tang to an otherwise sweet dressing!
  • Maple syrup (or honey): Adds a pleasant touch of sweetness to the salad. You can use either ingredient. I love the taste of maple syrup in this salad, as it pairs incredibly well with the bitterness of radicchio and walnuts. But honey is great too.
  • Dijon mustard: Brings down the sweetness in the dressing with its soft, creamy, and acidic taste.
  • Extra virgin olive oil: I love extra-virgin olive oil for its antioxidants and fatty acids. If you don’t like it, avocado or walnut oil are great substitutes.
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

How to Make

  1. Prepare the radicchio: Start by removing the leaves from the radicchio and roughly chop the radicchio leaves in big chunks. 
  2. Soak the radicchio: Add one tablespoon of vinegar to a bowl filled with cold water and soak the radicchio leaves for 15 to 30 minutes. This will help to remove some of the bitter flavors and beautifully crispen up the leaves!
radicchio leaves soak in water with ice cubes
  1. Combine the dressing ingredients: While your leaves are crisping up, combine the dressing ingredients in a small bowl. This should include the apple cider vinegar, the juice, and zest of 1 lemon, maple syrup or honey, mustard, olive oil, kosher salt, and pepper.
Top view of mixed dressing
  1. Remove your soaking leaves: Remove the leaves from the water and put them on a paper towel-lined plate. Drain them well, and pat dry. If you have a salad spinner, feel free to use it here to remove any excess water!
  2. Put the salad ingredients together: Combine the dried radicchio leaves with the sliced apples, spring onions, and walnuts in a large bowl. If you’re preparing this salad in advance (or are meal-prepping!), toss the apple slices in a bit of lemon juice to prevent them from browning too quickly.
  3. Add the dressing: Grab your dressing and drizzle it over the salad. Gently toss the mixture with salad tongs to get everything nicely coated.
  4. Sort the finishing touches: Once you’ve added the dressing, transfer everything to a serving bowl or platter. You can garnish it with extra spring onions, walnuts, and shaved parmesan. For a vegan version, opt for pomegranate seeds or pumpkin seeds if you like. After that, just dig in!

Is Radicchio Bitter?

Radicchio has a distinctive bitter taste that comes from the release of chemical compounds. These bitter compounds can be tasted as soon as you cut into (or chew!) these leafy veggies.

As the chemicals are water-soluble, you can remove some of the bitterness of the radicchio by soaking the leaves in water with a touch of vinegar (or a splash of lemon juice). The acidity will help remove the bitterness. 

So, don’t skip that all-important soaking step if you decide to make this radicchio salad!

You won’t be able to get rid of the lingering bitterness entirely. But it certainly tones things down and makes this chicory plant mildly spicy or peppery instead.

close up of delicious radicchio salad in a platter

How to Store

Although a radicchio salad holds up much better than salads made with lettuce, I always recommend eating this recipe as soon as you make it. This keeps the apples fresh, and radicchio leaves fresh.

If you want to prepare this recipe ahead of time, keep the salad and the dressing separate until you’re ready to eat. This should keep your salad ingredients crisper.

Just remember to take the dressing out of the fridge and bring it to room temperature for an hour before serving!

If you have leftovers and have already added your dressing, store everything in a glass container in the fridge for up to a day.

top view of radicchio salad in a bowl with cheese and spring onions on the side

Why I Love This Radicchio Salad

  • Vibrant and completely delicious!
  • Super easy to make.
  • Packed with vitamins, nutrients, and healthy fats.
  • The perfect combination of sweet, salty, and bitter for a fascinating flavor profile.
  • The ideal side for your festive table.

More Salads You’ll Love

If you try this Radicchio Salad with Apples and Walnuts recipe, please leave a comment and a rating and let me know how much you liked it!

Radicchio Salad with Apples and Walnuts

This radicchio salad recipe is the perfect festive recipe to add a touch of magic to your holiday table. Packed with nutritious ingredients, tons of vitamins, and topped with a tangy homemade dressing, this vibrant and colorful salad looks incredible but it’s super easy to make.
Prep Time10 minutes
Total Time10 minutes
Course: Salad
Cuisine: Vegetarian
Servings: 6
Calories: 252kcal
Author: Sara Trezzi


For The Dressing

  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 lemon - juiced
  • 2 tablespoons honey or maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil - extra virgin

For The Salad

  • 2 heads of radicchio - note 1
  • 2 medium russet apples - quartered, cored, thinly sliced (but you can also use golden apples or any other apple)
  • 1/2 cup toasted walnuts - roughly chopped
  • 2 spring onions - thinly sliced
  • 1 cup parmesan - shaved – optional


  • Remove the leaves from the radicchio and roughly chop them. Soak them in cold water for 15-30 minutes. This will help to crispen up the leaves and remove some of the bitter flavors. Drain well and pat dry.
  • Combine all the dressing ingredients (apple cider vinegar, the juice, and zest of 1 lemon, salt, pepper, maple syrup, Dijon mustard, and extra virgin olive oil) in a small jar or small bowl and mix until combined.
  • Place the radicchio, sliced apples (note 2), onions, and walnuts in a large bowl. Drizzle with the dressing and toss gently to combine.
  • Transfer the salad to a serving bowl or platter and garnish with a few extra green onions and walnuts, if desired.


Note 1: I used Radicchio di Chioggia, the round one that is almost always available at supermarkets. But you can use your favorite radicchio in this salad – Treviso, Verona, Treviso Tardivo (although I find that this is best cooked), or Castelfranco.
Note 2: If preparing this salad a few hours in advance, toss the apple slices in a bit of lemon juice. It will prevent them from browning too quickly.
How to store: Although radicchio holds much better than other salads (like lettuce), it’s best to eat this salad as soon as it’s made. If you have any leftovers, you can store them in a glass container in the refrigerator for up to 1 day.
You can, however, wash the radicchio and store it in the fridge. You can also make the dressing and store it in the fridge. Remove the dressing from the fridge at least 1 hour before serving, and mix with the rest of the ingredients.
*Nutrition information is a rough estimate per serving.


Calories: 252kcal | Carbohydrates: 18g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 18g | Sugar: 13g

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