When Brian and I took the boys to Italy, we wanted to eat lunch at a place near the Vatican that a lot of these Italian travelers recommended. It was a lunch we never forgot. We still talk about it and laugh. The place is Dino and Tony's and it is run by two brothers - Dino out front and Tony in the kitchen, neither of whom speak English. When we arrived for lunch, we were not offered menus at all. Dino told us he was going to bring out special antipasti for us and then asked if we like pasta. Well, sure, we said. Before we knew what was happening, he disappeared into the kitchen and then brought out two pizzas, a platter of prosciutto and salami, a platter of grilled vegetables, a platter of potato croquettes, fried olives stuffed with meat and a bottle of Chianti. This was just the antipasti! Then he delivered large bowls of radicchio risotto. "Where is the pasta?" I asked him. "After the risotto," he said. I knew we were in trouble. The risotto was so good, I couldn't believe it. Then the pasta came - Rigatoni Amatraciana. Delicious and perfectly cooked. Dino came to our table again and announced "Dolci!" and presented us with an assortment of desserts and dessert wine. We were all groaning.
That evening, we could hardly eat dinner. I had a small bowl of minestrone soup and called it quits.
This radicchio risotto is like the risotto Dino served us but I have added grilled radicchio, which is brushed with olive oil and herbs. When figuring portion sizes for risotto, allow 1/4 cup dry rice for each person.
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- 2 heads radicchio
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 tablespoons each chopped fresh thyme and parsley
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 6 cups light beef broth or vegetable stock
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 onion, diced
- kosher salt
- 1 cup arborio or carnaroli rice
- 1/3 cup white wine
- 1/2 cup grated Parmiggiano Reggiano cheese
In a small bowl, combine the olive oil, herbs and salt. Slice one radicchio head in half and then into quarters. Brush the quartered radicchio with olive oil mixture and set aside. Take the second radicchio head and slice off enough into small strips to make about 3/4 cup. Save the remaining radicchio for another use (you can add this raw to salads).
Bring the stock to a simmer on the stove and keep warm.
In another pot, add the olive oil and onion and saute slowly with a good pinch of salt until onion is soft. Stir in the radicchio and then stir in the rice and cook, stirring, for a couple of minutes. Pour in the wine and cook for a few minutes until it has evaporated. Add two ladlefuls of the hot stock and cook, stirring, until is has been absorbed. Continue adding the stock, a couple of ladlefuls at a time, until the rice is tender, about 25 minutes. Regularly stir the risotto. When the rice is tender, remove from heat and add the cheese to the risotto.
Meanwhile, light a grill and over medium high heat, grill the radicchio for a few minutes each side and serve along with the risotto.
For another risotto recipe, you might like Asparagus Risotto