Risotto al radicchio (Risotto with Radicchio)

FrankFall, primi piatti, Risotto and Other Rice Dishes, Veneto, Winter16 Comments

Risotto, as we all know, is an almost infinitely variable dish. You can pair rice with almost any meat, fish, vegetable or even fruit. One of the very finest ways to make risotto is with radicchio, whose mildly bitter flavor makes it a wonderful foil for the bland, almost sweet flavor of rice. It may not be the prettiest risotto, but it is one of the most delicious and satisfying.
You begin with a soffritto of pancetta, onion and/or shallots (I prefer the shallots with radicchio). Be generous with the onion or shallots—their sweetness will balance the bitterness of the radicchio. When the aromatics are well softened and reduced, add very thinly sliced radicchio (a “chiffonade” as it is called in culinary lingo), mix well and allow the radicchio to wilt and absorb the flavor of the soffritto. When the radicchio is well wilted—it will have darkened in color considerably too—add the rice and proceed in the usual manner to finish the risotto—except that you may want to use red wine, rather than the usual white, to moisten the rice after it has been toasted. Beef broth is preferable to chicken broth. And I like to add a nut of sweet butter as well as a generous amount of grated parmesan cheese during the mantecatura. Many recipes call for a five minute ‘rest’ for the risotto before serving.


There are any number of possible variations to this dish. If you want a vegetarian dish, then omit the pancetta from the soffritto and use vegetable broth (or lightly salted water) instead of broth. If, on the other hand, you want an even more substantial dish that could be a one-course meal, you can add pieces of sausage it to the soffritto or, even better, brown them separately in olive oil and fold them into the finished dish. Radicchio marries well with cheese, which is why I like to add extra grated parmesan in the final stages, but you can also take it up a notch and add other, creamy cheeses like taleggio or—a common pairing—gorgonzola. Although not very orthodox, I also sometimes add a bit of cream, either in addition to or instead of cheese, which has the effect of softening the bitterness of the radicchio, as well as providing a smooth, creamy texture.

16 Comments on “Risotto al radicchio (Risotto with Radicchio)”

  1. that's an interesting idea indeed, marsala for risotto al radicchio!!! I must try it, too!! 😀

  2. @Pola: Thanks for the tip! I make this risotto on a regular basis, and I'll be sure to try out your version next time I make it.

  3. I usually use Marsala instead of wine when I cook radicchio because it adds a nice sweetness to the dish an counterbalances the bitterness of the radicchio very well.

  4. Hi, my name is Fausta and I write from Italy! I was looking for some tips on how to make a risotto al radicchio and I fund your blog, which is really interesting!

  5. very well made blog Frank, complimenti!! Risotto al radicchio is also one of my favourite risottos, I usually do the vegetarian version but sometimes add some shredded speck instead of pancetta, speck + radicchio produce a lovely Trentinian touch 🙂 As you mentioned I do prefer using red wine over white, it does give a very nice depth to the flavour. I will be visiting your blog more often, so a presto 🙂

  6. Nice blog you got right here… I enjoyed reading your posts. I'm sure I'll visit here more often. Anyway, if you are interested, you can take a look at these amazing French macaroons and Almond macaroon cookies I've been trying to make.. It's very hard though… 🙂 If you know how to make these, maybe you could give me some tips. Thanks!

  7. Thanks, all, for all the kind remarks! And if you haven't tried risotto, you definitely owe it to yourself to do so! Happy to provide tips!

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