RadicchioPasta_IMG_8569As I was cooking Radicchio with Penne Pasta, I thought: my family’s going to hate this meal. And then I tasted it.

I don’t ever want to prepare radicchio another way again. This is my radicchio dish, forever. It was so good that I think next time I’m going to skip the pasta and make it as a vegetable side dish.

I think this dish could make a convert of you if you don’t consider yourself to be a radicchio person. I don’t mind the bitterness, but if you do, the cooking, cream and other stuff removes it.

There are three main reasons that the dish is so good. 1. pork fat, 2. heavy cream, 3. salt. Add to that other things that I love, namely: radicchio, parsley, butter, cipollini onions, and pecorino cheese, and you really can’t go wrong.

We also had a raw zucchini and chick pea salad that would have been good if it hadn’t been totally eclipsed by the pasta.

• Radicchio Pasta •
adapted from The Educated Palate, original recipe here

2 small cipollini onions
3 tablespoons butter
A 1/2″ to 3/4″ thick round of pancetta, chopped into approx 1/4″ pieces
1 head radicchio
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup chopped, fresh, flat leaf parsley
1 pound penne
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup grated freshly grated pecorino plus more for sprinkling.

Put a large pot of water on to boil for the pasta. Finely chop the onion.  Put the butter inn a 12” skillet and place over medium high heat.  When the butter begins to melt, add the onion and sauté until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.

While the onion is sautéing, cut the pancetta into narrow strips about 1/4″ by 1” long. Cut  the radicchio in half lengthwise and remove the root and core. Chop into 1/2″ strips.

When the onion is done, add the pancetta and cook for about 1-2 minutes.  Add the radicchio and season with salt and pepper.  Add about 1/2 cup water, lower the heat to medium, and cover the pan.  Cook until the radicchio is very tender, about 15 minutes.  Check it periodically and add more water if the liquid evaporates before the radicchio is tender.

While the radicchio is cooking, chop the parsley.

When the radicchio has been cooking for about 10 minutes, salt the boiling pasta water, add the penne, and stir well.  Cook until done.

When the radicchio is tender, uncover the pan, raise the heat and let any remaining moisture evaporate, there will be some sauce remaining at the bottom of the pan, don’t worry about that, just make sure it’s not watery.  Add the cream and parsley and cook until the cream has thickened and reduced by about one third.

When the pasta is done, drain well, toss with the sauce and the grated pecorino. Serve immediately with additional cheese for sprinkling.