Radicchio pesto parcels

It’s the tail-end of Veguary – my annual flirtation with temporary vegetarianism – and I’ve not written much about the food that’s been involved. This is in no small part because my freezer is full of vegetable curry, and I’ve spent a frankly unreasonable amount of time trying to perfect a vegetable moussaka that doesn’t rely on lentils for bulk and body. More on that later, but if you’ve got any suggestions that take less then two hours, I’m listening.

These little puff pastry radicchio parcels are one of the successes from Veguary 2014, and pull off that neat trick of being quite impressive for almost no effort. Although the bitterness of the radicchio itself isn’t for all palates.

Radicchio pesto parcel

This is heavily adapted from Silver Spoon’s Radicchio en Croûte recipe (p.553). For that, you basically just grill small radicchio whole, and bake them in pastry with salt and pepper. It’s tasty if a little plain, and works best with very small heads of radicchio. If you’ve only got the large ones, you’re best slicing them in half.

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Baked radicchio (and harissa marinated lamb)

Striking-looking leafy vegetables are an odd compulsion, I’ll admit, but I love them. Chard, cavolo nero, chicory, any greens you could name – I just can’t walk past them at the market. On saturday, and actually for the first time, the one I couldn’t walk past was radicchio.

Baked radicchio & spicy lamb

It looks like a particularly aggressive lettuce, and it’s basically Italian chicory. Sometimes radicchio has the long slender shape of standard chicory (Treviso radicchio), sometimes it’s smaller and rounder (The Verona or Chioggia varieties). In all cases it has most of chicory’s bitterness, although I found it easier to cook out. Being round and mostly red, I think mine was Chioggia, but I’m not massively sure this matters.

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