Penne with Radicchio

In my house, no one is a huge fan of bitter radicchio in their salad. Cooking it not only decreases its bitterness, but also creates a rich and wonderful pasta sauce in this dish along with pancetta and cream. It’s great way to use this special autumn CSA box treat.

This recipe was adapted from Giuliano Hazan’s Thirty Minute Pasta via giulianohazan.com. I modified the proportions of many ingredients, incorporated whole wheat pasta, and used leeks instead of sweet onions. Yummy.

Yield: Serves 2 to 3

  • 2 leeks, sliced into half moons, soaked and drained
  • 1 T unsalted butter
  • 4 ounces pancetta, cubed
  • 1/2 pound radicchio, finely shredded
  • coarse salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 3-4 sprigs flat leaf Italian parsley, chopped (about 2 T)
  • 1/2 pound whole wheat penne or fusilli
  • 6 T  heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup grated freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

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  1. Fill a pot for the pasta with about 6 quarts of water, place over high heat, and bring to a boil.
  2. Put the butter in a 12” skillet and place over medium high heat. When the butter begins to melt, add the clean leeks and sauté until softened, about 5 minutes.
  3. While the leeks are sautéing, remove any bruised leaves from the radicchio, cut it in half lengthwise and cut off the bottom of the root. Finely shred the radicchio. (I used a food processor.)
  4. When the leeks are soft, add the pancetta and cook until it loses its raw color 1-2 minutes.
  5. Add the radicchio and season with salt and pepper. Add about 1/4 cup water, lower the heat to medium, and cover the pan.
  6. Cook until the radicchio is very tender, about 20 minutes. Check it periodically and add more water if the liquid evaporates before the radicchio is tender.
  7. While the radicchio is cooking, finely chop enough parsley to measure about 2 tablespoons.
  8. After the radicchio has been cooking for at least 15 minutes, generously salt the boiling pasta water, put in the penne, and stir well. Cook until al dente.
  9. When the radicchio is tender, uncover the pan, raise the heat and let any remaining moisture evaporate. Add the cream and parsley. Cook until the cream has thickened and reduced by about one-third.
  10. When the pasta is done, drain well, toss with the sauce and cheese. Top with additional grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and parsley, as desired. Serve at once.

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If you like this you may also like:

Grilled Radicchio

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I am not a huge fan of radicchio, but, one of the things I enjoy about my CSA box is that vegetables that I may not have selected are sitting in my fridge waiting to be served! 🙂 This, so far, is the best radicchio I have ever prepared. The grilling process erased all of the bitterness… the balsamic vinegar may have helped too. This recipe was adapted from localfoods.about.com. The radicchio had such a lovely presentation and great color; it really stood out on the plate along with our grilled corn, and roasted zucchini, cippolini onions, broccoli, kohlrabi, fennel, and potatoes. A veggie-loaded meal! 🙂

Yield: 4 servings

  • 1 head radicchio, quartered with stem intact
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • Sea salt
  • 2 tsp balsamic vinegar, or to taste
  1. Preheat the grill. Cut radicchio into quarters. Rub or brush entire radicchio quarters with oil.
  2. Set radicchio with one cut-side down on the grill over moderately-high heat. Cook until edges are well browned, about 4 minutes. Turn to other cut-side and cook until entire radicchio is nicely browned and wilted, about 4 more minutes.
  3. Remove radicchio from grill, sprinkle with sea salt and drizzle with balsamic vinegar. Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature.

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