There’s just something great about caramelized chicory. While I’ve often got there by covering it in honey and balsamic vinegar, I was inclined to look for a similar effect with actual grapes. In additional to the lovely interplay of bitterness and sweetness, there is something light about the acidity of the grapes.
I figured that caramelized onions would only enhance this interplay without distracting too much.
Combining Gorgonzola with pasta water can easily lead to a very creamy cover for the pasta, as can be achieved with other types of cheeses. Yet, the blue cheese combines the silky, creamy texture with a sharpness in taste that pleasantly surprises.
- 500g of white grapes
- 4-5 big heads of chicory
- 300g of Gorgonzola
- 50g of walnuts
- bunch of thyme
- small bunch of parsley
- some olive oil
- some butter
- shot of white wine
- 2 onions
- 3 cloves of garlic
- some chili flakes
- 50g of Grana Padano
- 2 tbsp of honey
- 750 of rigatoni
Roughly chop the chicory in large chunks and halve the grapes. Put them into a large container or onto an oven tray. The goal is for everything to be in touch with the hot air, i.e. nothing should be stacked. Toss both into the container of your choice, sprinkle some thyme and drizzle the mixture with some olive oil. I’d recommend a combination of grill and hot air circulation. A temperature of around 180 degrees Celsius for around half an hour worked fine for me. Mix and stir from time to time and drizzle some honey halfway through.
Brown slices of onion in a mix of butter and olive oil. Add finely chopped garlic, some chili flakes as well as some walnuts. Eventually cook off some white wine.
While boiling the pasta with plenty of sea salt, make sure to slightly under-cook the rigatoni and to save plenty of pasta water before draining.
After draining the pasta, add them back into the pot used to boil them. Incorporate the chicory-grape mixture as well as the onions. Add the Gorgonzola and continually add pasta water while continuously stirring. Keep on going until you reach the creaminess of your liking.
Finish off the mixture with some finely chopped parsley, Grana Padano, freshly ground black pepper and sea salt.
Serve and hopefully enjoy. :)