This dish comes together so quickly and is so delicious. If you're up for a search—and you probably won't have to look too hard—try to find Treviso, which is what Colu suggests, and which is in season right now. I found it at Whole Foods Market. I like how it holds its shape a bit better than radicchio, and I prefer its milder flavor. Radicchio is fine, too, of course, but the times I've made this with Treviso, I've especially loved it.
Quantity of radicchio: You'll need about a pound, so depending on the size of your heads of radicchio, you may need more than one. I used two small heads, each weighing about 9 oz. If you can't find radicchio, you can use other bitter greens such as escarole in its place.
Pasta: This is a dish that my husband and I gobble up, but that my children don't go for (yet!). Because of this, I cook a half pound of pasta instead — it yields plenty of food for the two of us; I would say it serves 3 comfortably — and it's especially saucy and vegetable-loaded this way. You can use any shape of pasta you like. I love the pipettes.
One final note: This is going to sound silly, but to get a better photo, after I sautéed the radicchio, I scooped it out, and melted the cheese separately, then folded in the pasta and other ingredients and then the radicchio in last minute just before snapping a photo. I really wanted the photo to look more appetizing, because I love this dish and want people to make it. When the radicchio melts with the sauce, it turns the sauce more purply. It all tastes exactly the same, but for enticement purposes, I used a little trickery ... just this once! —Alexandra Stafford
kosher salt to taste
1/2 to 3/4 pounds
pasta, such as penne or gemelli, see notes
1 to 2
heads radicchio, preferably Treviso (if you can find it), cut into 1-inch-wide ribbons, see notes
freshly ground black pepper
crumbled gorgonzola or other mild blue cheese
chopped flat-leaf Italian parsley
zest of 1 orange, plus the juice (optional)
grated Pecorino Romano or Parmigiano Reggiano, for serving, optional
In This Recipe
Heat a 12-inch skillet over medium heat. Add the walnuts and toast them over medium-low heat for about 4 minutes, stirring frequently so they do not burn. Remove and set aside. Wipe out skillet.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add 1 tablespoon kosher salt and return to a rolling boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente according to the package directions.
While the pasta cooks, prepare the sauce: Heat the oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add the radicchio and season with salt and pepper. Cook the radicchio until it begins to wilt and brown, about 5 minutes.
Stir in the gorgonzola and cook for 2 minutes. Add 1/2 cup of the pasta water directly from the pot and simmer for 3 minutes more. The water should emulsify the cheese and create a velvety texture.
Scoop the cooked pasta directly into the skillet (alternatively, drain, reserving plenty of the pasta cooking liquid) and toss to combine the pasta with the sauce. Add the walnuts and parsley and toss again until glossy, adding 1/4 cup of pasta water or more (up to 1 cup), as needed to loosen up the sauce. Add the zest and toss to combine. Taste. Adjust as needed with more salt and pepper. I've been juicing the orange directly into the pot—I like the acidity/flavor/sweetness—but this is optional.
Plate in bowls and pass the grated Pecorino Romano or Parmigiana Reggiano.