It will only be a quick post this busy holiday weekend, dear readers, but I didn’t want to let too much time pass without making good on my promise to prepare at least one dish from fellow blogger Manuela Zangara’s holiday cookbook. My choice, her recipe for these pretty radicchio “boats”, typifies the kind of food I enjoy the most: quick and easy to prepare, veritably singing with the flavors of the season, and—most of all—perfectly delicious.
Radicchio leaves, like Belgian endive leaves, are practical (and tasty) containers for all kinds of savory fillings. The elongated and sturdy leaves of the radicchio di Treviso are the best choice for the purpose, but here in the US at least, this kind of radicchio can be hard to find. And, true to form, all I could find in the market today was the more common round radicchio di Chioggia. The recipe works perfectly well all the same; you need only be a bit more gingerly in separating the leaves. Round radicchio is a bit like cabbage; the leaves are tightly packed and need gentle nudging to loosen them enough to separate them. You will want to split the round leaves down the middle for easier handling.
Once you have separated and split your leaves, the rest is easy as pie: you lay a spoonful or two of room-temperature mascarpone inside each half leaf, then top with crumbled Gorgonzola and walnut halves, which you have toasted in a skillet and glazed with a bit of sugar and honey. Manuela suggests topping the whole thing with some warm honey to finish the dish (not having much of a sweet tooth, I opted out of this final touch).
Manuela’s recipe calls for Gorgonzola piccante, also sometime marketed as “Mountain Gorgonzola“, the aged version of Gorgonzola, but allows for the young Gorgonzola dolce if you prefer a milder taste. (As for me, I’ll stick with the piccante, which provides a pleasantly sharp counterpoint to the mild creaminess of the mascarpone.) Truth be told, I’d wager any assertive bleu would do the job.
We had these little boats as finger food with this evening’s pre-dinner aperitivo, but they would do fine service as an elegant but easy antipasto as part of an important meal like Christmas lunch, as featured in Manuela’s cookbook. I could equally see these “boats” served as an accompaniment to prosecco at a New Year’s Eve party.
For the full recipe, go to Manu’s Menu and pick up a copy of her holiday cookbook. And while you’re there, do check out Manu’s wonderful blog.