The next time you think of bringing lasagne or another noodle casserole to a potluck, try this recipe instead. It softens radicchio’s bitterness by baking it in a cream sauce; plus the gooey, browned bits of mozzarella are hard to resist. This dish is hearty enough to be a whole meal, but it also makes a great accompaniment to a roast or a large green salad with a slightly acidic vinaigrette (to balance the robustness of the pasta).
What to buy: Look for Treviso radicchio, radicchio rosso di Treviso, at gourmet grocery stores or the farmers’ market. This radicchio has a subtler bitter flavor than the more common Chioggia radicchio, radicchio rosso di Chioggia, though it is not as widely grown in the United States.
Game plan: If you want to increase the bitter flavor of the dish, use more of the white ribs and core of the radicchio. If you want a sweeter flavor, use mostly the purple parts.
If you can’t find tasty tomatoes to make this dish, simply substitute a 28-ounce can of high-quality diced tomatoes.
The sauce and the pasta can be prepared up to 1 day ahead and refrigerated in separate containers. To assemble, heat the oven, pick up the recipe at step 4, and bake the mixture until it is heated through and golden brown (which may take a little longer than 20 minutes).
Beverage pairing: Pighin Pinot Grigio Collio, Italy. The wine for this dish needs to match the bitterness of the radicchio but also cut through the richness of the mozzarella. Pinot Grigio can do that, especially this example from Italy’s Friuli region, which is a fine and precise white wine.
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