Radicchio, the Italian cousin of Belgian endive, is incredibly bitter. Bitter enough, in fact, to bring a grimace to even the hardest-faced folk. But fear not, for when you roast this ruby-red leaf, the flavor mellows and becomes slightly peppery. Layer that with pungent cheese and sweetly sour vinegar, and you have something very special indeed.
1 large red onion
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
3½ ounces Stilton cheese
Sea salt flakes
Coarse black pepper
Preheat the oven to 400° F.
Remove the outer leaves from the radicchio and cut it, through the root, into eight wedges. Arrange these in a medium-sized roasting dish.
Peel the onion and cut it into four wedges, leaving the root intact on each piece. Take one wedge and slice it as finely as you can manage—the sharper the knife, the better. Put the slices into a bowl, pour over the balsamic vinegar, and leave to macerate until required.
Slice each of the remaining three quarters of the onion into four slivers and, it bears repeating, leave the root on each sliver, so that the onion layers hold together in each chunk. Put these into the dish with the radicchio. Quarter the figs and add to the dish, then pour over 3 tablespoons oil, and add a generous pinch of salt and pepper. Toss everything together and roast for 15 to 20 minutes, until the onions are fairly soft, the radicchio is wilted, and the figs are mushy.
Crumble over the Stilton, and return dish to the oven for a few minutes until the cheese melts. To serve, scatter over the macerated onions.
If radicchio isn’t available, you could use red Belgian endive. In which case, use two endive roots, slicing each into four lengthwise.