Risotto al radicchio is a delicious vegetarian risotto recipe that features radicchio (Italian chicory), red wine and walnuts. A simple dish, once you’ve got all your ingredients together it will be on your table in just over a half hour. If you picked up a radicchio and have no idea what to do with it, radicchio risotto with walnuts is an excellent idea.
Simple dishes like this radicchio risotto should feature on everybody’s menu often. I speak for myself as well. Unless I’m meal planning for real, trying to get my veggie intake and balancing proteins and carbs, I tend to end up eating the same 4-5 dishes on rotation.
Yet risotto is such an easy and excellent way to get a good and balanced meal. You can sneak in any kinds of veggies. You can keep it completely vegetarian or use your favourite meat broth. And especially, it’s ready in less than an hour. Inspired to make more risotto in your life? Let’s talk about risotto al radicchio, then!
Radicchio, Italian chickory
Radicchio is a leaf vegetable that belongs to the chicory family. It has purple leaves with white veins and it can be consumed both raw as salad leaf, or cooked. Raw radicchio has an intensely bitter flavour that gets milder when cooked. It is also known as Italian chickory since it is widely used in Italian cuisine. Radicchio is related to Belgian endive, with which it shares the bitter flavour.
Radicchio varieties are named after the regions in Italy where they stem from – cultivation in these regions dates back several centuries. In Italy, these varieties have IGP status (protected geographical indication). The most famous ones are the small and round radicchio di Chioggia (picture below, left) and the elongated radicchio di Treviso (picture below, right).
Risotto al radicchio
While many people appreciate the bitter flavour of raw radicchio and choose its leaves in salads, I am not a fan. The bitterness of radicchio is more intense than that of Belgian endive. But what’s wonderful about this vegetable is that once cooked it will have a milder taste. While it will still retain its spiciness, the bitterness will tone down.
This is why radicchio is a favourite in risotto. This seemingly simple vegetable carries a very distinct flavour that pairs just so so wonderfully with walnuts. To align with the beautiful purple colour of the leaves, I make my radicchio risotto with red wine. The result is a flavourful risotto with a beautiful purple colour.
Here’s what you will need to make radicchio risotto with walnuts. A brief step by step explanation follows, and you can find detailed quantities and instructions in the recipe card at the bottom of this post.
- Radicchio – whatever type you can find, keep in mind that 2 small radicchio di Chioggia sub 1 radicchio di Treviso.
- Risotto rice – I have used Carnaroli in this recipe, but the choice is yours.
- Red wine – any medium-bodied red wine will work well, but if you plan on drinking the rest of the bottle with your meal I’d recommend opening a Merlot.
- Shallot – or yellow onion, for flavour.
- Vegetable stock – I recommend a vegetable stock, but if you don’t need to keep it vegetarian you can use chicken stock, too.
- Butter – this is a recipe from northern Italy, so no olive oil here. It’s butter, baby!
- Parmigiano – or Grana Padano, grated, to be folded in at the end.
- Walnuts – they need to be shelled and coarsely chopped.
How to make radicchio risotto with red wine
- Halve the radicchio lengthways, place it on a cutting board cut facing down, and cut it into 1 cm strips. On another cutting board, mince the shallot. While you’re at it, coarsely chop the walnuts and set aside.
- Set a heavy duty pan (or a Dutch oven) on medium heat and melt half of the butter. In another pot bring the stock to a boil, then keep it on low heat throughout the process so that you will be adding it hot.
- Add the shallot to the butter and cook on medium heat for a couple of minutes, until soft. Add the rice and toast it stirring continuously until it becomes slightly translucent, another couple of minutes.
- Pour the wine into the pan and evaporate stirring constantly. After it has almost all evaporated, add the radicchio and sweat it for a couple of minutes, until soft. It may seem at first that it’s a lot of radicchio compared to the rice, but it will wilt and the rice will double in size as it absorbs the stock.
- Add the stock in batches, always adding just enough to cover the rice. Simmer on medium heat stirring from time to time to prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the pan. When a batch of stock has been absorbed, add the next one. Proceed until all of the broth has been added or until the rice is cooked through. It should take up to 20 minutes.
- After the last addition, just before all of the broth has ben absorbed, remove the pot from the heat when the texture is still somewhat runny and soupy. Add the remaining butter and grated cheese and gently fold it in. The rice will keep absorbing the last of the liquid and the addition of cheese and butter will just give the risotto its signature creamy texture. Top with chopped walnuts and serve immediately.
Make it a meal!
In Italy, risotto is a main course. A typical Italian meal would begin with a starter, proceed on to the first course (the carbs) followed by a second course (the protein). End it with a dessert and espresso coffee. Here’s a suggestion for a fabulous meal where this radicchio risotto would be the star.
- Starter: baked goat cheese topped with prosciutto and walnuts or these vegetarian mini tomato and mustard tarts. Both pair nicely with a glass of Prosecco or a Campari spritz.
- First course: this radicchio risotto, and you want to bring to the table the bottle of red you used for the risotto.
- Second course: baked pork loin in hazelnut sauce or grilled halloumi with sautéed carrots as a vegetarian option. Keep the bottle of red on the table, or take out an oaked Chardonnay that will pair wonderfully both with the pork or the halloumi.
- Dessert: single-serve tiramisu in a glass or raspberry custard tarts if fresh raspberries are in season. A tiny and strong espresso coffee would be the perfect accompaniment to the dessert.
Hope you will enjoy this recipe and maybe a few more from those I have linked here. Do not hesitate to get in touch if you have any kind of feedback, I’m always happy to read your comments. And here’s a pin for your favourite recipe board on Pinterest:
Radicchio risotto with walnuts
An Italian speciality, risotto al radicchio features this peculiar bitter endive popular in Italian cuisine. This red wine risotto is nicely mild and well-rounded thanks to the addition of walnuts.
- 350 g risotto rice i.e. Carnaroli
- 80 g butter
- 1 radicchio
- 1 shallot
- 100 ml red wine
- 1 L vegetable stock
- 35 g walnuts chopped
- 50 g parmigiano grated
Cut the radicchio in half lengthways, place it cut side down on the cutting board and cut it into 1-cm slices.
Add the stock to a pan and bring it to a boil. When it boils, lower the heat to low and keep it on the heat.
Peel and mince the shallot. Set a heavy-duty pan or Dutch oven on medium heat and melt half of the butter. Add the minced shallot to the butter and cook 2 minutes.
Add the rice to the pan and toast on medium heat until slightly translucent, about 2-3 minutes.
Pour in the wine and stir thoroughly until evaporated.
Add the chopped radicchio and sweat it mixing from time to time until wilted, 2-3 minutes. It may look like it's a lot of radicchio at first, but it will wilt and the rice will double in size.
Lower the heat to medium-low and add enough stock to cover the rice and radicchio mixture. Let it simmer gently and stir from time to time to check when the stock has been absorbed. Repeat this procedure and keep adding the stock in batches until either the rice has cooked through, or all of the stock has been added. Stir from time to time to make sure your risotto will not stick to the bottom of the pan.
After the last addition of stock, when still slightly runny and soupy, turn the heat off. The heat in the pan will continue the cooking process and the rice will naturally finish absorbing moisture. Add the remaining butter and grated cheese and stir in. Top with chopped walnuts.
The nutritional information provided is only an estimate based on a suggested serving size.