Radicchio is a member of the chicory family – along with Endive and Escarole – and is part of the dandelion group. Chicories are thought to help with digestion of rich foods and are often served as sides to hearty winter fare in Europe.
Many folks are familiar with radicchio, endive and chicory as a fall and winter vegetable, but their cool season tolerance makes them ideal for early spring planting as well, either starting the seedlings inside and transplanting once soil temperatures are above 45 – 50°F, or just direct sowing when the soil is above 50°F. They can also be planted in the fall and overwintered in a cold frame or heavy row cover and harvested early next spring.
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter, divided
- 2 small shallots, finely diced
- 1 tbs. chopped fresh thyme
- 4 cups thinly sliced radicchio
- 1 1/2 cups arborio rice
- 1 1/2 cups cooked Italian beans, like Romano
- 1 3/4 cups dry red wine
- 3 cups rich chicken stock - can substitute a roasted vegetable stock
- 1/2 cup Parmigiano Reggiano cheese plus more for topping
- Melt 2 tbs. butter in a sauce pot over medium-heat.
- Add shallots and sauté until soft, about 5 minutes.
- Add thyme and radicchio and sauté until radicchio wilts, add rice and toast until slightly browned. Add wine and simmer until liquid is almost evaporated.
- Add chicken stock slowly with a ladle and stir the rice occasionally. Continue adding stock and stirring until rice is almost al dente and starts to become creamy.
- Add beans and Parmigiano Reggiano cheese to pot and a little more stock if needed. The risotto should be a little soupy.
- Stir in the remaining butter and serve in shallow bowls with more Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.
- A little sautéed diced pancetta is also delicious in this dish. Cook it and remove prior to adding the shallot. Top the finished dish with the pancetta and cheese.