Winter is a great time for radicchio. Endless versions of the purple and white vegetable can be seen in the markets around Rome including squat, round cabbage-like balls, elegant elongated ovals and the distinctive Treviso variety with its long, deep-violet tendrils. Radicchio is a member of the chicory family and has a bitter tang which softens and sweetens when cooked. This pairs perfectly with blue cheese such as gorgonzola which has a creamy texture, slightly salty flavour and touch of spiciness.
This perfect marriage of radicchio and gorgonzola is right at home in a warming bowl of risotto. Risotto can be tricky to get right, it needs to be cooked enough to create a thick, unctuous sauce from the rice starch but it should at the same time maintain a slight al dente ‘bite’ to avoid a sludgy, soupy or watery texture. Stirring and tasting is the key so make sure not to take your eye of the stove for too long.
This risotto pairs very well with a fragrant white wine such as a Chardonnay or even a fresh, sparkling rosé.
For 2 people:
200g radicchio, cut into thin strips
70g gorgonzola piccante, cubed
1 small red onion, finely chopped
1 clove of garlic, peeled
3 small (espresso) cups of Arborio rice
1 litre of vegetable stock
Extra virgin olive oil
Half glass of white wine
First prepare the radicchio, in a small pan add 2 spoonfuls of olive oil and gently fry a whole, peeled clove of garlic for a few minutes. Add the radicchio and fry for a further 5 minutes until soft.
In the meantime, in a large pan heat the butter and a splash of olive oil and fry the chopped onion for a few minutes until soft and translucent. Add the rice and a pinch of salt. Lightly toast the rice and then add half a glass of white wine. The rice will release starch at become very compact. Once the alcohol has evaporated add the cooked radicchio and cook together for around 3 minutes. Then add enough stock to cover the rice and continue to stir. Once the liquid is absorbed continue to gradually add stock, all the while stirring, until the rice is cooked, approximately 10-15 minutes. Taste to check that the rice is al dente and the sauce is thick and creamy.
Once the risotto is cooked add the gorgonzola and mix until melted. Serve immediately.