We have a fine crop of Treviso radicchio now ready for eating in the garden, and we will get to enjoy them all winter. Some people like to mix tender radicchio leaves with things like lambs lettuce to their salad in the spring and summer. In autumn and winter however, I love the vegetable lightly cooked with melted blue cheese and garlic, and served with ribbons of pasta which cling nicely to the rich sauce.
This pasta dish is a meal for two people. I call it Franca’s Sauce, as it was Franca, our landlady in Italy, who strolled past one day and casually suggested this simple way to eat the deliciously bitter leafy vegetable. I tried it immediately, and that’s how we have been eating our chicory ever since (radicchio is also known as Italian chicory).
250 g tagliatelle
200 g Gorgonzola cheese, cut up into roughly 2-3 cm cubes
Two radicchi, washed thoroughly, roots trimmed off, and cut into 2 cm pieces
3 cloves garlic, sliced lengthwise
20 ml olive oil (+ ¼ tsp. olive oil)
2 tsp salt
Freshly milled pepper
2 litres water
The pasta: Boil 2 litre of water in a heavy pan with a lid. Add salt, and put the dry tagliatelle in. Cook for 7-9 minutes or as long as the instructions on the packet recommend (be careful not to cook too soft and floppy. Your pasta should be al dente, i.e. have an edge to it). Drain, mix in ¼ tsp. olive oil and keep warm until you are ready to add the sauce.
The sauce: Start your sauce while the pasta is cooking. Put oil in a frying pan and when it is hot but not smoking. Add garlic, stir, and let it cook until it begins to colour. Add the radicchio, and cook on medium heat, tightly covered, for about 10 minutes, until the radicchio is soft. Turn the heat down to its lowest setting. Add Gorgonzola and stir. Remove from heat as soon as the cheese is melted, and combine with pasta. Serve immediately, with freshly milled pepper, and a glass of a full-bodied red wine.