Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Belgian Endive and Radicchio Pasta



I'm on a mission to buy at least one thing that scares me every week at the grocery. My grocer's has a section of produce which is just at it's sell by date and while it's not the freshest produce, it's a great way to experiment with new things without paying so much for them. This week I picked up some belgian endive and a head of radicchio. I see them used all the time on shows like, Top Chef and I thought it would be easy to find recipes to use them in. I found a perfect one online which used BOTH but it wasn't vegetarian. So I tweaked it a bit and this is what I came up with! The original recipe can be found at: 

It calls for:

* 1 pound Penne
* 1 head Radicchio, cut in quarters then sliced thinly
* 1 Belgian endive, sliced thinly
* 1/2 – 3/4 cup pancetta, cut in small cubes
* 2 small shallots, chopped
* Pinch red pepper flakes (optional)
* Olive oil
* Fresh lemon juice
* 1/2 cup Pinot Grigio or other white wine
* 1/3 cup half-and-half (half whole milk half cream)
* 1/2 – 3/4 cup chicken stock
* Parmigiano Reggiano

I didn't have any shallots on hand so I used half a cup of diced yellow onion. I subbed the white wine for extra "not chicken" stock and used whole organic milk in place of cream. I think you could leave off the cheese and also the pancetta but I used mozzarella and some nutritional yeast flakes to top it off (I think cubed tomatoes would also be amazing!) and used some Morningstar fake bacon in place of the pancetta on top. I also didn't have penne so I used farfalle. I think any type of pasta would work but I would try to avoid thinner ones such as spaghetti. I also doubled the endive in mine...mostly just because I happened to have two.

To make it:


1. Cook penne until al dente and set aside (you can cook at the same time as the sauce).

2. Add some olive oil to a large saute pan (I added Bacon salt to the oil since the original recipe called for bacon grease but you could probably skip that step) and saute the shallots on medium low heat until translucent, about 3-4 minutes. Add the red pepper flakes now if you intend to do so. Add the wine (you can sub extra stock, water with a splash of vinegar or white grape juice) and allow to reduce for a couple of minutes.

4. Add the "not" chicken stock and season with salt if you think it needs it. Also, start squeezing a tablespoon of lemon juice at a time. (I used about two teaspoons of lemon juice in mine)

5. Add the radicchio, cover the pan and allow to cook for about five minutes. This will cut most of the bitterness of the radicchio.

6. Add the cream and allow to heat up in the pan, add the Belgian endive and toss the pasta. You can top with mozzarella, about a teaspoon (per individual plate) of nutritional yeast flakes, crumbled Morningstar bacon and a splash of lemon juice.

The sauce won’t look sufficient in the pan but the ingredients combined will provide quite a bit of flavor without being too rich.

Serve.

(When I finished my sauce it was SUPER thin. I added some corn starch to thicken it a touch so that it would cling to the pasta more. If you're going to do that do it BEFORE adding it to the noodles!)

This pasta is delicious but I think next time I would double the sauce. It was flavorful but I like to have more veggies and less noodle. Whole wheat pasta would also be delicious. I think next time I'll experiment more with toppings too...fresh tomatoes or chives would be great on top.

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