Radicchio (pronounced rah-DEE-kee-oh) is a chicory very specific to certain areas of Northern Italy, especially Veneto. There are a few varieties, but Chioggia (the round kind) and Treviso (the elongated kind) are the most common. I have only ever seen Treviso in Sydney, so that’s what I have used for this recipe, but the round variety works just as well. It is a bit bitter, but I love it… I mean, look at that colour! So pretty! It can be eaten both raw, in salads, or cooked (the way I like it the most). I often use it to fill Crespelle together with taleggio or gorgonzola. Today instead, I want to share with you a very quick recipe for pasta. The first time I ate it I was a child and I was at some friends’ house in Treviso. I liked it so much that I asked my mum to get the recipe so she could make it for me. Radicchio is often not the first choice when it comes to kids, as many of them do not like its bitterness, but I find that when it is cooked, mixed with a little cream and Parmigiano Reggiano, it tastes delicious and not so bitter any more. Both my little ones enjoy this pasta just as much as I do. If you want to make this a vegetarian dish, simply do not use Italian Speck. I am tagging this recipe both under Veneto and under Trentino-Alto Adige (for the speck) for my Regional Italian dish series. Enjoy!
- Wash and shred the radicchio and keep it aside.
- Thinly chop the onion and Italian speck and put it in a pot with the extra virgin olive oil. Sauté for a couple of minutes until the onion becomes translucent.
- Add the shredded radicchio and salt. Cover and let it cook on a low flame for about 10 minutes. You should not have to add water as radicchio usually creates a little liquid while cooking, but do keep an eye on it and adjust as needed. Your end result has to be rather dry though. When cooked, keep aside until cool.
- Cook the pappardelle following the steps on How to cook pasta “al dente” in the Techniques page of this site, but drain it 1 minute before it is cooked as it will finish cooking together with the sauce.
- Put the drained pasta in the pot with the radicchio and speck sauce, add the cream and mix well while cooking it on a slow flame for 1 or 2 minutes.
- Serve with thinly grated Parmigiano Reggiano and ground pepper on the top.