Words and recipe by Andrea Carlson, photo by Tracey Kusiewicz.
For many, quince seems like one of the more exotic tree fruits out there, but the reality is, if you walk around Vancouver or Victoria in the fall, itʼs not that uncommon to see quince trees that are bearing fruit. Thereʼs a depth of fragrance that quince gives off, and a magical transformation it undergoes from a rock-hard fruit when picked to a supple and richly flavoured treat after it's been poached. It is an absolute hidden treasure of an ingredient.
1 small head castelfranco radicchio (pink variety is ideal)
2 large quinces
1 cup sugar
1 tsp fennel seeds
2 bay leaves
4 black peppercorns
2 cups water
4 tbsp white wine vinegar
8 tbsp high-quality extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp salt
300 g stracciatella cheese (or substitute burrata, skyr yogurt or high-fat organic Greek yogurt)
Wash radicchio leaves, dry and set aside. Wash and peel quince, and cut cheeks off fruit. Set aside, saving the peel and core.
Place peel and core into medium pot with spices, sugar and water. Bring syrup to a simmer and loosely cover. Cook at a low simmer for at least 1 hour, or until syrup turns bright red. Allow syrup to reduce by 25 percent. Strain.
Add quince cheeks and submerge. Cook on lowest possible heat until fruit is just tender (about 15 minutes). Remove fruit and let cool.
Mix 4 tbsp of poaching liquid with the vinegar, olive oil and salt and set aside for dressing. Save remaining liquid for another use.
When quince has cooled to room temperature, slice into ½-inch wedges. Cut radicchio lengthwise into 2-inch strips and divide onto 4 plates. Top with quince and the stracciatella. Drizzle vinaigrette overtop. Serves 4.