Our vegetable providore has started bringing us new season blood oranges - for me, always an exiting time of year. Whole blood oranges look a lot like regular oranges, maybe a little smaller, with a slight blush on the skin. When cut however, you are in no doubt that this is an entirely different beast altogether. The flesh is a vibrant deep red and bleeds onto the chopping board in a most alarming way. I wanted to pair them with some lush white asparagus in a salad reminiscent of one of sensei's, but white asparagus was not to be found.
However, we did have some lovely radicchio and some delicious French hazelnut oil, so with all the raw materials gathered we set about to some kitchen play.
The radicchio is cut into quarters then sprinkled with garlic, olive oil and herbs. They are then bundled up into parcels with the prosciutto as wrapper. Quickly grilled they are teamed with some rocket, hazelnuts and the superb blood oranges. The effect is very striking, both visually and for the taste buds.
This would make a sensational starter for a dinner party, as it can be plated individually, and is extremely easy to prepare.
1 small head of radicchio lettuce
8 slices of prosciutto
2 blood oranges
1 bunch rocket
50 gm hazelnuts
6 stalks thyme
1 clove garlic
2 Tbs olive oil
3 Tbs hazelnut oil
1 Tbs white wine vinegar
1 Tbs verjuice (optional)
Freshly ground black pepper
Trim the radicchio. Pull away any coarse outer leaves and trim the stalk to the base of the lettuce. Cut the radicchio through the stem into quarters. Keep the stem attached as this helps to hold the bundles together. Rinse any grit and dirt out of the radicchio by running under tap water. Shake dry and set aside. Finely chop the garlic and thyme. Mix together with the olive oil and drizzle over the radicchio so it seeps into the leaves. Lay out the slices of prosciutto. Using 2 slices per quarter of radicchio, wrap up into a tight neat bundle. Once these are all made you can wrap them up and leave overnight in the refrigerator.
If you can't find blood orange, try using regular oranges (Seville would be a good choice) or grapefruit instead.
Pick and wash the rocket, trimming any coarse stems. Roast the hazelnuts in a 180 °C (360 °F) oven for 10 minutes. While they are still hot, rub them in a kitchen towel to remove the dark skins. Coarsely chop the hazelnuts. Mix together the hazelnut oil, vinegar, verjuice, hazelnuts and some salt and pepper. Set aside.
Cut the top and base off the oranges. Using a small sharp knife, cut away the skin following the shape of the orange, so all the skin and pith is removed. You should end up with 2 bright red orbs of orange flesh. Turn the oranges on their side and cut each segment out, following the lines of the pith to the centre of the orange, removing any seeds along the way. You will end up with about 2 dozen little segments or fillets of orange.
If you have a char grill or barbeque, cook the radicchio parcels for 3 minutes each side. You can also cook them on the stove top in a fry pan or skillet, just drizzle a little olive oil in and don't cook at too high a heat. The prosciutto needs to be crispy and the radicchio inside a little soft, but still retaining some texture.
To serve, onto each of 4 plates, place a few rocket leaves. Slice each radicchio parcel into 3 wedges and place on top. Scatter over the blood orange segments and any juice then drizzle over the hazelnut dressing, making sure each plate gets some hazelnut pieces. Grind over some black pepper and serve immediately.