Tag Archives: Red Radicchio

Pan fried radicchio with pickled pears, walnuts, beetroot and gorgonzola

You must admit the combination above sounds pretty good – the contrasts of flavours, differences in textures, the bitter taste with the sweet.

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You probably have eaten grilled radicchio. I was mentioning to friends that my mother was cooking grilled radicchio back in the 80’s and was presenting it with a tomato salsa and polenta. And now in 2016, I have been seeing it and eating it once again, both in Australia and in Italy.

The photo below was taken in a restaurant in Rome in June. I ate it as a contorno (a vegetable side dish).


Instead of grilling the radicchio I pan fried it – easier and less smelly.

I wanted a variety of ingredients so I poached some Rosella pears in red wine, pepper corns, a dash or red vinegar and a tablespoon of sugar.

Next beetroot. I really enjoy the sweetness of beetroot with radicchio in a salad at any time, so why not ad it to a lightly sautéed radicchio.

I love Gorgonzola dolce. Cheese pairs well with walnuts and so I added these components as well.


It did not take long to prepare. I poached the pears early in the day so as to leave them steeping in the poaching liquid and the rest was prepared in about 30 minutes.  I cooked the beetroot the day before and kept it in the fridge. My type of cooking these days….. especially if this was the entrée and I had three more courses to prepare.

For 4 people

Quantities for gorgonzola and walnuts to taste.

Cubed gorgonzola dolce – creamier, less sharp than straight Gorgonzola.
Walnuts, and make sure that they are not rancid.
Cooked beetroot…at least one per person.

2 pears – not soft – I ended up only using 1 – a quarter on each plate
2 cups dry red wine
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1 heaped tablespoon of sugar
5 cloves
about 10 black pepper corns
1 pinch of salt

Combine the wine, vinegar and spices in a small saucepan which will hold the pears and almost- if not entirely- cover them. Cook pears cut into quarters in the liquid, lid on and poach on low heat. I still wanted some crunch and cooked them for about 30 min.
Leave pears in poaching liquid to cool and until you wish to use them.

1 large round head of radicchio, quartered, so that each quarter has a bit of the stem end holding it together. I also used satay skewer to ensure that it stayed together. If using the Treviso vaviety of radicchio ( long shape) you may need 2 heads and cut it in half.

¼ cup olive oil
salt and black pepper

Lightly sauté the radicchio in the oil over moderate heat uncovered. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Turn once. I did not want the radicchio cooked- I wanted a warm salad with radicchio that was softened on the outer.
Remove the radicchio. Distribute onto separate plates.
Drain/ strain the pears and use that wine/liquid to add to the pan. Discard the spices. Add the beetroot (to warm and to glaze). Turn up the heat and reduce the liquid to about half the quantity.

To serve distribute pears and beetroot . Dribble liquid on the radicchio. Scatter gorgonzola and walnuts on top.

Done. Compliments all round.



Radicchio Recipes:

BIGOLI NOBILI (Bigoli pasta with red radicchio, borlotti and pork sausages)

RADICCHIO (Treviso) with polenta and tomato salsa

Radicchio, celery beetroot salad – as ingredients below with a simple vinaigrette – Extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper, red wine vinegar. 1 part vinegar to 3 parts olive oil.

Fresh herbs if you wish.


BIGOLI NOBILI (Bigoli pasta with red radicchio, borlotti and pork sausages)

Bigoli are very similar to spaghetti – long strands of pasta once made at home and later commercially made and extruded through a bronze die with a rough edge so as to trap the sauce better. It is from the Veneto area of Italy where they eat polenta and risotto and not as much pasta as in the south of Italy; Bigoli have now become an artisan product and most commonly dressed with a duck pasta sauce. Eggs are sometimes incorporated in the pasta dough.


Bigoli Nobili (noble) Bigoli suggests something greater and they are. The pasta is made with the usual durum wheat but has red radicchio in the mixture; the pasta is therefore darker in colour. The Bigoli Nobili are far less common than the plain Bigoli and I bought several boxes of Bigoli Nobili in South Australia; I have not found this type of pasta in Melbourne but will continue my investigations.

Bigoli pasta and sausage with radicchio

I usually cook Bigoli with red radicchio, borlotti beans and pork sausages, a recipe that originates from around Bassano which is about two hours drive from Trieste where I spent part of my childhood. In some households the borlotti are not the standard addition to this dish. Cooking the same recipe with Bigoli Nobili accentuates the taste of the radicchio.  There are different types of Radicchio (differentiated by their shape and colour) and they were all originally grown in the northern part of Italy: Chioggia, Castelfranco, grown in the fact of Treviso, Chioggia, Castelfranco, Trieste or Verona. The best known is the red one from Traviso. Radicchio has a bitter taste and can be eaten raw in a salad or cooked in various ways. The radicchio loses its red colour when it is cooked.


I have cooked Bigoli Nobili many times for friends, but have not taken a photo. When the pasta is ready to be dished out it is not an appropriate time having to announce to the guests:

“Hold your horses… I need to take a few photos before we eat!”

When I took this photo I did not have enough Bigoli Nobili so I mixed it with plain Bigoli- no guests, just us. It tasted just as good. And really, a good quality spaghetti will also produce great results.

For 6 people

500 grams of bigoli (or spaghetti)
6 Italian pork sausages
2 medium heads of radicchio
2 cups of cooked borlotti beans – 1 cup soaked overnight and then cooked in cold unsalted water, covered and cooked until soft (or 2 tins, drained)
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 large lump of butter, to taste
1 onion, cut finely
1 clove garlic, minced
fresh rosemary, a few sprigs
½ cup chopped parsley
½ glass of red wine
salt and pepper to taste
Squeeze the sausage meat out of the skins and separate it into small lumps with your fingers.
Slice each radicchio into halves, then quarters, then eights.
Sauté the onion in the extra virgin olive oil; add the sausages and brown them gently.
Add the radicchio and gently toss it around it until it is wilted.
Add the red wine, rosemary, parsley, garlic, salt and pepper, cover and braise the contents for about ten minutes.
Stir the beans gently through the other ingredients until warmed through.
Add the butter last of all – this will enrich and give a sheen to the sauce.
Cook the pasta in salted water and drain it when it is cooked.
Place the cooked pasta into the sauce and serve.




The red radicchio was made into a salad with canned tuna, cooked borlotti and red onion (Recipe from my book: Small Fishy Bites, Marisa Raniolo Wilkins,  New Holland publisher).

The fennel was braised and topped with tapenade.


INSALATA DI TONNO, FAGIOLI E RADICCHIO (Tuna salad with borlotti beans and radicchio)

This very simple salad was popular as an antipasto or a light meal when I was growing up as child in Trieste. In the Triestian dialect this salad is called Insalata di tonno, fazoi, zivola e radiccio.

Trieste is in North Eastern Italy not far from Venice and if you are ever in Trieste you are likely to find this salad in any trattoria (for home style food) especially those trattorie that have a buffet.


No quantities needed for the recipe – the proportions are up to you. I like more beans than tuna and I cook my own (well covered with water, soaked overnight, change the water and cook slowly – no salt – bay leaves or a stick celery,  whole carrot or whole onion do add flavour).

If you are using canned beans, a tin is 400g. A tin of tuna 425g.
If the tuna is not packed in oil, drain it before using.


tinned tuna (packed in oil, the tuna is not drained and is broken up with a fork)
borlotti beans (drained if canned)
red radicchio
red onion, finely cut rings
For the dressing combine extra virgin olive oil, red wine vinegar, a little French mustard and some salt and pepper.
You can combine all of the ingredients together or layer it.
Layer it:
Place red radicchio leaves at the bottom of a bowl as a bed for the salad. Next, put on the beans, then the tuna and onion as the top layer.
Pour over the dressing.



Sometimes a little bit of imagination makes an old favourite look special. This is just baked fennel with black olives but the special touch is that I used tapenade (which I make regularly and usually have some on standby in the fridge – see photo above).

I have written about making tapenade. See: TAPENADE

1-2 fennel bulbs
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
½ cup tapenade
¾ cup white wine, stock or water or pernod, a mixture any
2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
2 tbs butter
1 tsp sugar
salt and pepper 
Prepare the fennel:
Remove the fennel stalks that are not worth saving from the bulbs and discard – keep some of the fresher ones (this is mainly done for appearance but may be  also be suitable for eating). Trim away any bruised or discoloured portion of the bulbs. Cut the bulbs length-wise (vertically) into eights (or more or less) depending on the size of the fennel. Save the fronds.
Add the sliced fennel to a pan with hot olive oil and butter and sauté for 5-10 minutes, turning occasionally.
Add seasoning and about 1 cup of liquid (see above). Add garlic and fronds.
Cook uncovered on gentle- moderate heat for about 10 minutes, the liquid will reduce but add more if necessary
Add a teaspoon of sugar to help caramelize the juices. Increase the heat to evaporate any liquid left in the pan – this will result with the fennel cooking in the left over oil and butter and turning a deep gold colour. .
Place the fennel on a dish and pour over it any juices. Add a couple of spoonfuls of tapenade to the pan and heat it – only just to take off the chill.  Spoon the tapenade onto the fennel and serve. I guess the chives add to the composition, but these are not necessary.