Classic Italian Risotto with Radicchio and Taleggio: this classic risotto dish from the Veneto Region of Italy combines radicchio, white wine, cipolline onion, Carnaroli rice, and adding mellow cubes of taleggio which balances the flavors nicely creating a wonderfully creamy and hearty dish.
There is a question that I still fear being faced with, even after years, and that is: "Do you have children?" I've had to deal with the answer and all the shadows that come with it for so long, and since it recurred, again, the other night, I can see I am not completely at peace, yet.
Song of the day: What about us - Pink.
The short answer is "no" and through the years the same question has throbbed like a bee sting, hurt like a broken bone, annoyed like a pimple, and tasted like a bitter green. I would never ask this kind of personal, delicate, questions to somebody I don't know, just for the sake of an "elevator small talk". It is not like asking "Do you have an instant pot?". Mostly, because there are questions that cannot be dismissed with a simple yes or no. Life is not black and white and all the color nuances of life are framed in every yes or no.
Life is bittersweet
So, lady at jazzercise class, I know you would have expected me to answer yes, and we would have started talking about our children, nodding and laughing at all the things we have in common. But unfortunately, I answered no, and I can see on your face that you regret now asking. If we were not doing small talk, I would like to tell you that many years ago - in what I call "my previous life" - I tried the impossible to have children and failed, repeatedly. And when I was on a journey to become an adoptive mother, everything crumbled in my hands: marriage, family, dreams. I'd like to tell you that years after that, when I thought I had patched all the pieces together, thousands of miles away from home, and all hopes were faded and gone, I was "almost" a mother, twice. And if it wasn't for Loreto, I don't know if I would have been able, again, to pick up the pieces.
Life can be sweet and it can be bitter. In fact, for me, it is and will always be bittersweet.
Radicchio, the bitter vegetable that is actually a type of chicory
Could this be one of the reasons I have a soft spot for the harsh, acrid flavor of radicchio?? It is true that radicchio is almost always described as a "bitter vegetable", like the chicory from the same family. But don’t let the word "bitter" discourage you. It has an edge, yes, but just underneath there is this sweet earthiness that grows on you. And when radicchio is cooked, the bitterness almost disappears entirely. Like in life we balance the bitterness with the sweet things and as in a garden it needs love, patience, attention, and the combination of light and dark, rain and heat, which balanced will produce the most incredibly delicious harvest, as in life will create peace and happiness.
Risotto with Radicchio and Taleggio, bold flavors for a hearty dish
This risotto is something I've been making and eating for ages. It has the flavors of my life in Italy, and I was actually surprised I had not shared a Risotto with Radicchio and Taleggio with you, yet. If you have never tried radicchio, I encourage you to step out of your comfort zone and give it a try. It is good for you, and in this risotto, it lends bold flavors to a hearty dish.
The different types of radicchio
In these recipes here, here, and here, I tried to show the different varieties of radicchio, and their possible use in the kitchen. Some varieties are easier to find outside of Italy, like the Radicchio Rosso di Treviso Precoce I am using here, while others may be a little harder, but worth the effort to try. For this classic Italian risotto, you can use this variety, or the round-shaped one (that is called Radicchio Rosso di Chioggia), or the Radicchio Rosso di Treviso Tardivo (the hardest to find). They all have in common a bitterness which mellows when cooked, nonetheless, they are members of the chicory family. I have never tried to make risotto with Belgian endive, but if it's easier to find for you, it might be good to give it a try.
How to make a good classic Italian risotto:
Making risotto is a slow and peaceful process. Not a difficult one, but it requires for you to follow a few fundamental steps.
- Step 1: Chop your radicchio, mince your onion, grate the Parmigiano, cube the Taleggio, i.e., have all the measured ingredients ready, including the vegetable stock. We have a recipe for a homemade one, but you can use a store-bought, better if organic, in our humble opinion.
- Step 2: Make a nice soffritto. Saute your minced onion in a few tablespoons of e.v.o. oil (or a mix of e.v.o. oil and butter), until translucent, then add the chopped radicchio and let them mingle until the radicchio changes its color from a vibrant purple to a muted brownish red.
- Step 3: Add the rice to the radicchio in the pan and stir, letting it toast evenly for a few minutes until all the grains have absorbed the flavors and are warmed up. Arborio rice is a good option, but once you've tried Carnaroli rice or Vialone Nano, your risotto will improve considerably. They have a firmer, more starchy grain, and in the end, they make a wonderfully creamy, flowing risotto, not a sticky one. For this Classic Italian Risotto with Radicchio and Taleggio, some would probably prefer to use Vialone Nano, since it grows in Veneto, the same Region of the radicchio, but I love my Carnaroli and I stick to that.
- Step 4: Add the white wine (red wine works fine, too), stir and let it evaporate completely before adding the first cup of vegetable stock. The stock needs to be hot. If the stock is cold, it slows down the cooking process.
- Step 5: Add your stock slowly, one ladle at the time, and replenish it when it is almost completely absorbed by the rice. Stock addition needs to be accompanied by continuous stirring so that the temperature is maintained constant and each grain gets the same exposure to the heat. Adding the liquid slowly also let you control the cooking more closely, you can then add a little bit more or stop adding when your preferred texture is attained.
- Step 6: Stop the cooking time when it's still al dente and a bit soupy (see picture below). Take it off the heat, add cheese and butter (in the case of this risotto, Parmigiano and Taleggio), and stir vigorously to produce the creaminess. Then, let it rest, without stirring. During the three-to-five-minute off-heat resting period, the rice completes cooking and absorbs some of the remaining liquid.
Taleggio cheese melts beautifully and lends its unmistakable rich, sweet, and nutty flavor to this risotto. It is a wonderful combination, one that complements each other perfectly, and it creates a silky, creamy texture. Don't you just love the purple-pinkish color of this risotto speckled with reddish spots?
This Classic Italian Risotto with Radicchio and Taleggio is a great example where bitterness meets sweetness in an endeavor of harmonious compilation, leaving us with a feeling of Life is Beautiful!
- 3 Tbsp e.v.o. oil (or a mix of oil and butter)
- 1 small cipolline onion (60 g), minced
- 1 medium radicchio, chopped
- 4 Tbsp white wine
- 1 cup (209 g) Carnaroli rice
- about 4 cups vegetable stock, hot
- salt and pepper to taste
- ⅓ cup (25 g) Parmigiano Reggiano, grated
- ½ cup (100 g) Taleggio cheese, cubed
- Wash and chop the radicchio, set aside.
- Grate the Parmigiano, cube the Taleggio and set aside.
- Have the vegetable stock on a slow burner so it's always close to simmering, and stays hot
- Mince the onion thinly, pour it into a saucepan, with the e.v.o. oil. Saute for a few minutes, until translucent.
- Add the chopped radicchio, and stir. Cook the radicchio until it softens and changes its color from a vibrant red to a brownish red.
- Add the rice and toast for a few minutes, stirring with a wooden spoon, letting the ingredients mingle and the rice toast and warm up evenly.
- Add the white wine, stir, and let evaporate completely.
- When the wine is completely evaporated, pour one ladle of hot broth, stir, and, when the rice has absorbed the whole liquid, add one ladle of stock at a time, adding the next one when the previous one is completely absorbed.
- Cook for about 15 minutes, leaving the risotto al dente and a bit "soupy".
- Turn off heat.
- Add the grated Parmigiano and cubed Taleggio (reserving a few cubes to add at the end), and stir.
- Let it rest for about 3 minutes, without stirring.
- Serve warm, with a couple cubes of Taleggio on top.
Arborio rice takes a little longer to cook than Carnaroli, but never more than 18-20 minutes.
- Category: Main, Rice
- Method: Cooking
- Cuisine: Italian