Recipe: Charcoal Venice’s Grilled Radicchio Salad with Portobello Mushrooms, Maui Onions & Salted Almonds

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Charcoal Venice - Portobello Mushrooms - Photo Credit Dylan + Jeni
Winter comfort food in a bowl: Grilled Radicchio Salad with Portobello Mushrooms, Maui Onions & Salted Almonds (Photo by Ally Romano)

Charcoal Venice's - Joe Johnson
Joseph Johnson, chef de cuisine at Charcoal Venice. (Photo by Antonio Diaz)

The recently opened Charcoal Venice is a welcome addition to the long stretch of Washington Boulevard on LA’s Westside. Helmed by Chef Josiah Citrin of the Michelin-starred Melissé, Charcoal is more of a casual concept restaurant focused on live-fire cooking. Featuring “craveable comfort foods” cooked over charcoal, in wood-burning ovens, or even in the almighty Big Green Egg that’s been installed in their kitchen, it’s a fun departure from the formalities of fine dining that works well for this beachy part of town.

This week at the Santa Monica Farmers Market, we met Joseph Johnson, the chef de cuisine at Charcoal. Always an early bird at the market, you can often find him roaming the aisles, taking stock of the latest arrivals and the choice pickings from our seasonal bounty. Joseph got his start cooking alongside his grandmother as a teenager in Petersburg, Virginia, before attending Le Cordon Bleu’s affiliated California School of Culinary Arts program in Pasadena. After ascending the ranks of kitchens like the former Savory in Malibu, he eventually landed at Melissé before being handpicked to oversee Charcoal Venice.

A favorite on the menu, Charcoal’s Grilled Radicchio Salad with Portobello Mushrooms, Maui Onions & Salted Almonds is the perfect dish to get you through the winter months. It’s a warm, hearty salad that can also be prepared in the oven if you don’t have a grill available (or if it’s too cold to go out!).

Joseph sources his radicchio from Maggie’s Farms, where it’s grown year-round, though it really benefits from the colder, frosty temperatures, which help to intensify its deep, rich nuttiness. To balance out the bitter, he suggests marinating the radicchio quarters in a mixture of acid and sweet before cooking them briefly over lump charcoal, preferably made from oak for its subtle smokiness that won’t overwhelm the other flavors. The combination of tender, grilled radicchio, portobellos, Maui onions and crunchy toasted almonds lightly glazed in the syrupy tang of Charcoal’s fresh herb vinaigrette, makes every ingredient in this dish a star.

Grilled Endive (1)
Grilling radicchio quarters over oak lump charcoal. (Photo by Maya Maniktala)