A Veneto Touch of Bitter: Radicchio, Clams & Soave

Radicchio and the Veneto
Radicchio is a very popular vegetable in the Veneto which finds its way into many dishes.  My guess is that there’s something about that radicchio bitterness that appeals to tastebuds in this region.  We found similar flavors echoed in the Soave wines.

The radicchio we get in Minnesota isn’t the same variety as is found in the Veneto, but it does have that trademark bitterness.  We snagged one of the last local heads of radicchio this fall from Uproot Farm at Fulton Farmers Market.  Perfect timing to try it in a recipe from the Veneto!

Minnesota Radicchio is different from that found in the Veneto

Minnesota Radicchio is different from that found in the Veneto, but it still has the necessary bitterness.

Linguine with Clams & Radicchio
We love linguine with clams in every version we’ve ever tried; white sauce, red sauce, you name it.  We’ve never had one like this though, and it was very nice.  Sautéeing the radicchio softens the bitterness just the right amount.  It turned out to be a perfect test for a couple of Soaves.

Slightly bitter flavors in the food pair beautifully with Soave

Slightly bitter flavors in the food pair beautifully with Soave

We would usually make fresh pasta, but tonight we were just too tired, and a nice dry linguine was just fine.  Not as nice as fresh, but good nonetheless.

Pasta is rare in Venetian dishes, but it sure is nice with clams.

Pasta is rare in Venetian dishes, but it sure is nice with clams.

Most of the radicchio is sautéed, but be sure to save some as a colorful garnish.

Cooked with the clams, the radiccchio bitterness is softened just enough.

Cooked with the clams, the radiccchio bitterness is softened just enough.

Inama Soave Classico 2013 ($15 at Surdyk’s)
Eye: Clear, light warm toned yellow
Nose: Waxy, ripe pears but not too rich. There’s a touch of bitter almond in the background.
Mouth: Medium texture, nice acidity but not too tart, smooth. Impression of ripe lemons.

Tasted by itself, we liked the Inama a bit better than the Pieropan.

Inama Soave Classico

Inama Soave Classico

Pieropan Soave Classico 2013 ($15 at Surdyk’s)
Eye: Clear light yellow, lighter than the Inama, but not by much.
Nose: Ripe pears, just a bit of rich beeswax. Bitterness in the background, just a bit more than the Inama.
Mouth: Medium mouthfeel, but a little on the lean side.  Good acidity is hidden in there.  A bit mineral, more so than the Inama.

On the whole, the Pieropan was lighter, leaner and more mineral than the Inama.

Pieropan Soave Classico

Pieropan Soave Classico

Which Soave with Radicchio?
The Pieropan didn’t show quite as well by itself as the Inama Soave Classico, but it was better with radicchio & clams pasta.  Somehow, that little bit of minerality paired beautifully with the slight bitterness in the radicchio.  By themselves, either wine was a very nice pairing with the clams and radicchio.  Because we had the opportunity to try both, side by side, we could pick a favorite with this dish.

The Pieropan Soave Classico was just a bit better with the radicchio & clams

The Pieropan Soave Classico was just a bit better with the radicchio & clams

Linguini w/ Radicchio & Clams

Recipe adapted from Julia Della Croce‘s “Veneto“.  While out of print, you can find this great cookbook used online!

This recipe is sized as a main dish for two. If you serve it as a primi, increase the pasta to 6 oz., and it will serve 4.

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs. of your choice of clams, mussels, or a mix
  • 1 head of radicchio, sliced then chopped roughly.
  • 1 medium red onion, minced
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 oz. dry white wine (Soave works great)
  • 5 oz. good quality linguine
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Put a large pot of well salted water on high to boil
  • Melt the butter and olive oil together over medium heat in a medium sized saucier or large saucepan (large enough to hold the clams)
  • Sauté the onions until softened and translucent, about 3 minutes.
  • Add 2/3 of the radicchio, reserving 1/3 for garnish.
  • Add 4 oz. of dry white wine, increase the burner to high.
  • Add the clams & mussels, cover
  • Add the linguine to the pasta pot, boil for about 11 minutes
  • Watch the shellfish closely, after about 10 minutes they should be open.
  • Remove the pasta from the pasta water, mix with the steamed shellfish
  • Adjust seasonings with salt & pepper
  • Garnish with fresh radicchio and serve!

 

 

Comments
4 Responses to “A Veneto Touch of Bitter: Radicchio, Clams & Soave”
  1. I love pasta with clams and love the choice of pairings with Soave!

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