Radicchio mellows paired with pork fat, pasta

A weekend away left me with little in the way of fresh produce in the refrigerator. Such times usually are when I turn to sun-dried tomatoes, brine-cured olives, capers and smoked fish in the pantry to bulk up pasta, brightened with a few fresh herbs gleaned from the garden.

But anticipating a busy couple of weeks with little time to shop, I had strategically purchased a few items that would stay vibrant and crisp for the duration. Belgian endive, a favorite with chopped apples, dried cranberries and blue-cheese dressing, is one of those.

The other, radicchio is more often seen in salad but mellows marvelously when wilted in a skillet, particularly with some pork fat. Over the past few years, I’ve taken to sautéing radicchio with prosciutto, pancetta or plain, old bacon for pasta carbonara.

This recipe from the Chicago Tribune makes similar use of radicchio, minus carbonara’s egg, and can be assembled for a quick, weeknight supper or cupboard’s-almost-bare meal. Fresh, flat-leaf parsley is a fine substitute for arugula.

Tribune News Service photo

Linguine With Prosciutto, Radicchio and Arugula

In a large pot of well-salted, boiling water, cook 8 ounces linguine until al dente; drain.

Meanwhile, in a skillet over medium-high, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add 1 ounce prosciutto, cut into 1/4-inch thick lardons; cook until fat renders a bit, for 5 minutes. Add 1 onion, peeled and chopped, 1 garlic clove, peeled and minced, and salt to taste. Cook until onion softens, for 5 minutes.

Stir in 1/2 cup white wine, 4 canned plum tomatoes, chopped, and 1 head radicchio, cut into 1/4-inch ribbons. Cover; simmer until radicchio wilts, for 10 minutes.

Stir pasta into sauce. Serve sprinkled with baby arugula. Makes 2 servings.

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