This is an adventure in bitter veggies. The highlight of this dish is radicchio. It’s that little red head that looks like cabbage at the grocery store. Here in the U.S. you’ll find it mostly in salads, but here’s another way to get your veggies.
Radicchio is a leaf chicory. It’s bitter, but the taste mellows with cooking or grilling. In Italy, where the vegetable is popular, it’s usually eaten grilled in olive oil, or mixed into dishes such as risotto.
I’ve cut down the amount of radicchio in this recipe, because it called for three heads. I couldn’t even fit that in my saute pan. One and a half heads should be just fine. Once the cream sauce is made, season with salt to taste. This should help cut down on the bitterness. The richness of the cheeses also helps cut through the radicchio. The pasta would also go well with meat that has some sweetness to it, such as teriyaki chicken. Hey, why not mix Asian with Italian.
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 medium garlic cloves, minced
- 1 medium white onion, small dice (about 1 cup)
- 7 medium Roma tomatoes (about 2 pounds), cored and coarsely chopped
- 1 1/2 heads radicchio, ends trimmed and sliced crosswise into 1/2-inch strips
- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
- 1 pound penne rigate or ziti pasta
- 8 ounces shredded mozzarella
- 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan
- Heat the oven to 400°F and arrange a rack in the upper third. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat.
- Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. When it foams, add garlic and onion, season well with salt, and cook until translucent. Add tomatoes and let simmer until slightly reduced and thickened, about 10 minutes. Add radicchio and cream, and cook until radicchio is wilted, about 5 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary.
- Meanwhile, cook pasta in the salted water until nearly done, or about half the time recommended on the packaging and drain. (Do not rinse.) Set aside.
- Once sauce has finished simmering, combine it with half-cooked pasta and mix until pasta is evenly coated. Place pasta mixture in a 13-by-9-inch baking dish and sprinkle mozzarella and Parmesan over top. Place in the oven and bake until mixture is bubbling, pasta is al dente, and top is golden brown, about 20 minutes.