From the Publisher
Serves 2 to 4
I corresponded with Paolo Lanapoppi, a Venetian writer and gondola restorer, for some time before I finally tracked him down in Venice. When we finally met, the radicchio of nearby Treviso was in full flower, and he cooked up this delightful homespun dish for lunch over talk of carnevale and gondolas. Paolo topped the pasta generously with Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese at the table, but it is equally delicious without the cheese.
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 red onion, thinly sliced and then chopped
8 to 10 ounces radicchio, preferably the elongated Tardivo variety, cut into julienne and then roughly chopped
½ cup hot water
½ teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
¾ pound imported Italian spaghetti
2 tablespoons kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese, for serving
1. In an ample skillet, warm the olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the onion and sauté until nicely softened and lightly colored, about 6 minutes. Toss in the radicchio, and use a wooden spoon to coat it evenly in the olive oil. Add the water, continuing to toss. Cover and continue to cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the radicchio is tender, 10 to 12 minutes. Add the sea salt, cover, and set aside.
2. Bring a large pot filled with water over high heat to a rolling boil. Stir in the pasta and kosher salt. Cook, always over the highest heat possible and stirring constantly to prevent the pasta strands from sticking together, until the spaghetti is almost cooked, about 6 minutes. Add a glass of cold water to the pot to arrest the boiling and drain immediately, setting aside about 1 cup of the cooking water. Add the spaghetti to the skillet, and return the heat to high. Use 2 long forks to distribute all the ingredients evenly, about 1 minute. If necessary, add a little of the pasta water to moisten so that everything mixes nicely together. Serve immediately with plenty of pepper and pass the Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese at the table.