Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Totally Rad-icchio!

People tend to be most familiar with radicchio when it is peeking out from beneath the iceberg lettuce in a salad. People like me... who mistook this glorious vegetable for something that simply "added color" or "offered bite to a common salad."

I really never thought much of radicchio.
"Ah," you say knowingly, "Apparently, you've never had GRILLED radicchio."
And it is true. I hadn't. Until the other day.
Having now experienced the full glory of radicchio, I now feel compelled to tell you all about what you've been missing. In fact, my advice would be to run out immediately and buy yourself a nice head of radicchio to grill up for dinner. Splashed with balsamic vinegar, it would make an incredible side for that steak you've been craving.

Or, if you're feeling a bit more ambitious, you can do what we did and make a baked pasta dish.

Pasta before being baked:
Pasta AFTER being baked:
Mmm.
I can't say enough good things about this pasta dish. It, quite possibly, has the most flavor of any recipe I've tried in the past year. The radicchio grills up sweet, smooth, and slightly smoky. The tomatoes (albeit being canned) provide a pleasant acidity to the dish, while the cream smooths everything out and offers up a bit of mouth feel. And you can't forget about the mozzarella here. Pick a good one -- because its melted, browned goodness will be part of what you'll remember for hours after eating this.

We ate our pasta with a nice glass of Pinot Grigio on the side. And we (really) enjoyed the leftovers for lunch the next day. Even after being reheated, this dish held its own. Best of all, it made fellow coworkers swoon (and what's better than that?).

BTW, you don't need to use Radicchio Treviso for this recipe to be a stand-out. Once the radicchio is grilled, it's perfectly sweet and mild no matter which variety you choose. So, I stick with the standard (and more affordable) variety here. This time around, we found some Chioggia at the farmer's market -- and it was totally awesome!

8 comments:

  1. That looks really great. I love your food.

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  2. You're right, radicchio has been underestimated for a long while now and it's about time for justice to be made :). Your baked pasta looks like a yummy start to me!

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  3. Oh my gosh, I love grilled radicchio (like you I ignored it as a vegetable til it started showing up in our CSA shares) but I've never eaten it any way except on its lonesome- I can't WAIT to try it in that baked pasta dish!

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  4. I love grilled radicchio. It was a revelation too when we first grilled radicchio. Everybody, including the bitter-haters, loved it!

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  5. Oh, man, do I love radicchio. So many people find it too bitter, but cooking it is one great way to mellow that. Another DELICIOUS way of eating radicchio is braising it. We braise it and put it on flatbread or even make pizza w/ it. Slow cook it w/ some onions and garlic - whooooo. yum.

    also, have you ever grilled a head of romaine lettuce? The best salad - split a head of romaine in half (leave bottom on so it stays together) and drizzle w/ a bit of olive oil on the cut side. Grill. Do what you did w/ the radicchio. Then rough chop and eat w/ any dressing you like. My fave is a simple vinaigrette! mmmmmm.

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  6. That radicchio sounds great! I have had it grilled and it really is awesome! :)

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  7. It is p-ing down with rain here in Scotland, but I am filing this tip and will try it next time we have a bbq! Brilliant :)

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  8. I'm glad you appreciate radicchio. It is delicious!
    I love that you prepared it in a way besides a salad.

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