Witlof and Pancetta Salad (Insalata di Radicchio e Pancetta)

There are countless traditional Italian recipes with only a few ingredients, a simple preparation, and a lot of flavor. This of course depends on the quality of the ingredients used. This is a perfect salad for fall or winter from the region of Veneto. The city of Treviso (near Venice) is famous for its Radicchio Rosso di Treviso. This is the red cousin of witlof as it is known in the Netherlands and Australia (chicory in the UK, Belgian endive in the US). Since radicchio is hard to come by, I made this salad with witlof instead. The only other ingredients are pancetta, garlic, and wine vinegar (and a bit of salt and extra virgin olive oil if needed). The combination works really well together and is great for an appetizer, lunch, or light dinner. Here’s how to make it.


For 2 large or 4 small servings

500 grams (1.1 lbs) radicchio, witlof (chicory/Belgian endive)

100 grams (3.5 oz) pancetta

2 garlic cloves

60 ml (1/4 cup) wine vinegar (white or red depending on whether you use witlof or radicchio)

salt if needed

extra virgin olive oil if needed


Peel the garlic cloves and squash them a little. Dice the pancetta.

Remove the bitter heart of the witlof and cut the leaves into ribbons. Wash and dry them and put them in a bowl.

Put the pancetta and garlic in a saucepan into which the pancetta fits snugly in a single layer. Add some olive oil if the pancetta is very lean.

Cook over medium heat until a lot of fat has rendered from the pancetta, and the pancetta is getting crispy.

Add the vinegar.

Use a wooden spatula to scrape any browned bits from the bottom.

Cook over medium heat until the dressing has thickened somewhat and the vinegar has lost some of its sharpness.

Add the warm dressing to the witlof in the bowl.

Toss to mix.

Taste and add salt, extra virgin olive oil, or vinegar if needed. Serve and enjoy.


I’ve mentioned before that my Italian cooking adventures all began with the great books by Biba Caggiano. One of my favorite recipes from one of her earliest books, Modern Italian Cooking, is the one for sweet and sour pork. She uses pork loin, but I’ve always used pork tenderloin instead since it is more tender. This dish is original, delicious, and easy to make. It cooks quite fast as the tenderloin is cut into slices and it is best when cooked to medium rare or medium. Give it a try!


7 thoughts on “Witlof and Pancetta Salad (Insalata di Radicchio e Pancetta)

  1. This is so simple and appetizing but does obviously need the best ingredients. Shall certainly try! Am trying to think of salad labels at greengrocers and markets: I think we use all three names: have definitely seen chicory and endive as well!


  2. Delicious! I love endives and the many different varieties available here in Northern France (we have three main varieties: the pale yellow endive, red endive, red chicory and a thing called “pain de sucre” (sugar loaf), which is a large green chicory). That warm pancetta dressing looks wonderful, such a nice way of balancing the bitterness of endive!

    Liked by 1 person

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