Grilled Radicchio and Bean Salad

Mario Batalli and I are practically related. He dated the college roommate of the younger sister of one of my mother's childhood friends. That makes us, what? Best friends? I thought so, and I'll be sure to tell him if we ever meet. Given our close relationship, it's lucky that Alex and I find his recipes so unbelievable. I don't think I could break it to him if we didn't. But somehow, every dish that we've tried from his cookbooks or show (or restaurants) has been amazing -- and this bean and radicchio masterpiece is no exception. It comes from his recent cookbook, Mario Batali Italian Grill, which has some of the most gorgeous food photographs we've ever seen, and some of the yummiest-looking recipes too.

The recipe calls for grilling the radicchio, preparing the beans, and serving both on toasted bread slices, like a bruschetta. Though we served it this way the first time we prepared it, this time we skipped the bread since the rest of our meal was carb heavy. We served the beans and radicchio as a salad, and it was just as perfect like that. This recipe is simple, healthy, and great for low-key summer evenings. If you feel inspired, you might experiment by adding olives or tomatoes, or topping the dish with parmesan cheese. We love it as is (read: with our own minor adjustments).

1 cup cannellini beans (we used canned ones, drained and rinsed)
6 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
6 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
2 tbsp basil leaves, cut into fine strips
1 garlic clove, minced (we left this out)
2 large radicchio heads

Preheat grill or broiler. In a mixing bowl, gently stir together beans with 2 tbsp olive oil, 2 tablespoons of the vinegar, basil and garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Cut the radicchio in half from top to bottom and place dry onto grill. Cook until wilted, about 3 minutes per side. Remove from grill and cut each half in half again to form wedges. Cut the core piece out and loosen each leaf from the head. Dress the removed leaves in a mixing bowl with remaining oil and vinegar and season with salt and pepper. Arrange radicchio plates and divide bean
mixture over it. Serve.