Pasta With Radicchio, Bacon and Pecans
A char under the boiler shows off radicchio’s pleasantly bitter flavor to its best advantage. Paired with the sweetness of ricotta and pecans, with salty smoked bacon and sharp pecorino, this is a pasta with big flavor. Use round radicchio di Chioggia, long radicchio di Treviso or curly fingered radicchio Tardivo.
- Serves: 6 persons
- 4ounces smoked bacon, cut into 1/4-inch lardons (about 4 strips)
- 1pound radicchio di Chioggia, radicchio di Treviso or radicchio Tardivo
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- 1pound rigatoni or other short, tubular dried pasta
- 1teaspoon roughly chopped rosemary
- Pinch of red-pepper flakes
- 8ounces ricotta (about 1 cup)
- 4ounces toasted pecans (about 1 scant cup)
- 4ounces grated pecorino (about 1 cup)
Step 1Heat the broiler. Put a large pot of water on the stove, bring to a boil, then turn to a simmer so it is ready for cooking pasta.
Step 2As water boils, put 2 cups water in a small saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a simmer. Add bacon lardons, and blanch for 1 minute, then drain and set aside.
Step 3Cut radicchio into 1-inch wide ribbons and spread out on a parchment-lined baking sheet. (If using Tardivo, just cut off bottom of bunch to free the slender leaves.) Drizzle 3 tablespoons olive oil evenly over radicchio and season generously with salt and pepper.
Step 4Broil radicchio close to the heat source so it chars. Cook for about 5 minutes, until warmed through, but not wilted. Remove and let cool slightly, then chop crosswise into rough 1-inch pieces.
Step 5Salt the pasta water and bring to a hard boil. Add rigatoni and cook until al dente, usually 11 to 15 minutes, depending upon the brand.
Step 6While pasta is cooking, put 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large wide skillet over medium-high heat. Add bacon and cook until crisp and lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Turn off heat and add rosemary and red pepper.
Step 7Drain pasta (reserve 1 cup pasta cooking water) and add to skillet. Add reserved radicchio and ricotta and toss to incorporate.
Step 8Transfer pasta to a warmed deep serving platter or individual bowls. Sprinkle pecans over surface and top with a dusting of pecorino. Serve immediately and pass remaining cheese at table.