Here’s a meal I prepared recently: fagioli cannellini semplice e radicchio brasato. This meal combines a staple of my Italian cooking experience and a new recipe that is applied from the techniques and approach I’ve come to learn in my time cooking in Umbria.
1 can/jar cannellini beans
1 yellow onion
1-2 stalks of celery
white wine, chicken/vegetable stock &
Start by preparing a classic soffrito: dice your onion, carrot, and celery, and let them sweat on low heat with a bit of oil, butter, or both. Cook until translucent.
Once the onions and carrots are soft, you can add a pinch of salt and the rest of your aromatics (typically I’ll go for some crushed red pepper to give the dish some heat, or you can add herbs like rosemary and thyme).
Once the pan is smelling fragrant, add your rinsed beans. Cook until you’re satisfied—if you want the dish to be dry, cook until the beans are warm and you’re done! If you want a stew-like quality, keep the temperature low and add some white wine, chicken/vegetable stock, or even just some water. Option to toss in more butter to get a rich, velvety texture.
Once you have the consistency you’d like, pull the beans from the heat and top with some parmigiano and, if you’d like, some lemon zest. This is the dish I always cook for myself on the elusive rainy day in Los Angeles.
In Umbria, radicchio is typically roasted over a fire then finished with salt and oil, maybe some lemon juice, and it is a delight. I hadn’t been using the oven recently, however, and wanted to put it to use:
1 whole head of radicchio
1 yellow onion
Preheat to 450-500—you just want it to be hot.
Quarter your radicchio lengthwise. Put a pan on medium-high heat, add a splash of olive oil and a small pat of butter. Place the radicchio into the pan to sear its outside—it should brown and even start to blacken before you flip it, about 2-3 minutes a side.
Once the radicchio is seared, transfer the quarters into a baking dish. Slice the onion and add into the baking dish.
Take your bottle of red wine and pour into the dish until the radicchio is about 1/4 submerged, then add just a bit of water to bring the liquid level to just under 1/2 of the radicchio.
Season with salt and pepper and place in the oven for about 30 minutes, flipping halfway through. Once it’s out of the oven, feel free to drizzle with some good olive oil!