Monday, October 4, 2010

Penne Treviso-style plus a Belgian Variation

we took some radicchio home from the rialto ma...

This is a typical (and very easy) recipe from Treviso sent to me by a Facebook friend who lives in that town, in the north of Italy. Treviso is the cradle of "radicchio", a slightly bitter vegetable  that, in spite of its red colour, is very close in taste to the Belgian endive. Which is why I'm going to give you both versions: the original Treviso one and my (Belgian) variation on it. But there are lots of other ways to use radicchio, and here is a useful link to give you some ideas:

- Pasta, any "hard" kind (meaning done without eggs), like spaghetti or  penne, about 80g/person  (if the commercial dried variety) or 100g if you use home-made fresh pasta; the rest of the ingredients are given for 4 persons:
- 50 g bacon (not the smoked variety - really lard) cut in very thin slices;
- 100 g of radicchio di Treviso, also cut in thin slices;
- garlic (optional)
- olive oil, a small table spoon
- ground pepper as desired

In a pan, fry the garlic (a small piece if you use it) in a little olive oil and once it has browned, throw it away. Continue with the same pan using this oil  to fry the bacon for about 2 minutes.  Then add the radicchio and cover with a lid, lowering the flame and cooking for about 10 minutes or so, until the vegetable has become tender.
It's done! Now you cook the pasta as usual, remembering to set aside a cup of the cooking water once you've strained the pasta - because you'll use some of that water, as needed, when you turn the pasta in your pan-fried vegetables and warm them up quickly before serving. At the last minute, add a little fresh olive oil in it and a sprinkle of grated Parmisan cheese. Serve with more grated cheese on the side.

Now for my Belgian variation:
- replace the radicchio with a couple of Belgian endives sliced thin

- the bacon can be replaced with smoked ham also cut in thin slices and dried in the pan without oil, so the slices become slightly crisp. Then proceed with cooking the endives, as before, on a slow fire with a lid. If it looks dry to you, add a little water so it won't burn.
- at the end, when you turn the pasta in the pan, add the cooking water as needed and a pat of fresh butter.

Serve with cheese as before.

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