Seasonal local food recipe No 117: Radicchio and lemon pasta


A member of the chicory family sometimes known as red chicory, radicchio has distinctive pink-red leaves with white veins. Its firm, cup-shaped leaves have a strongly bitter taste. It is generally used in salads mixed with other salad leaves. In its native Italy it is often served shredded. Alternatively, tear the leaves into bite-sized pieces. But there are also a number of recipes that make use of it cooked.

Yotam Ottolenghi cooks it lightly and mixes it with walnuts, lentils and honey for a tasty dish. And Sarah Raven has this recipe for Radicchio and lemon pasta in her Garden Cookbook which she says is quick to prepare and delicious cold the next day.

Serves 4
Preparation and cooking: about 15 minutes

100g chopped pancetta
2-3 tbsp olive oil
½ onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
200g dried egg tagliatelle
200g radicchio
3 tbsp dry white wine
50g butter
grated zest of 1 lemon
100ml double cream
handful of flat-leaf parsley, chopped
grated parmesan, to serve
salt and black pepper

Bring a large pan of water to the boil. Put the chopped pancetta into a wide shallow pan over a moderate heat with half the olive oil. When the fat begins to run, add the chopped onion and garlic, and then cook with the pancetta for about 3-4 minutes, until the onion has softened.

Put the pasta into the pan of salted boiling water and cook until al dente.

Slice the radicchio into thin strips and add to the onion mixture with the wine and sauté until the radicchio begins to wilt. Add the butter and lemon zest; pour in the cream and season well. Add this to the drained pasta with the remaining olive oil and the chopped flat-leaf parsley. Finish with a generous topping of parmesan.

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