The original version of this dish is meatless, but this recipe adds bacon — it’s sweet flavor pairs so well with the pleasantly bitter radicchio and a generous dusting of freshly ground pepper. Simply omit it for a satisfying vegetarian entree.
Spaghetti with Radicchio and Bacon
7 Tbs. (3 1/2 fl. oz./105 ml.) extra-virgin olive oil
5 large cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1/4 lb. (125 g.) sliced bacon, cut into strips 1 inch (2.5 cm.) long and 1/2 inch (12 mm.) wide
1 large red onion, finely chopped
3/4 lb. (375 g.) Treviso radicchio, roughly chopped
Fine sea salt and freshly ground pepper
Kosher salt for cooking pasta
1 lb. (500 g.) spaghetti
2 Tbs. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
In a frying pan large enough to accommodate the pasta later, warm 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and saute until lightly browned, 3-4 minutes. Add the bacon and saute until nicely colored and crisp, about 6 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the garlic and bacon to paper towels to drain.
Discard all but 2 tablespoons of the fat from the pan, return the pan to medium-low heat, and add the remaining 5 tablespoons (2 1/2 oz./75 ml.) olive oil. Add the onion and saute until softened and lightly colored, about 6 minutes. Add the radicchio and stir and toss to coat it evenly with the oil. Add 3/4 cup (6 fl. oz./180 ml.) hot water and toss to combine. Cover and continue to cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the radicchio is tender, 10-12 minutes. Add 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, re-cover, remove from the heat and set aside.
In a large pot, bring 5 qt. (5 l.) water to a rapid boil. Check the package directions for the cooking time, then add 2 tablespoons kosher salt and the pasta to the boiling water, stir well, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is 1 minute shy of being al dente.
Drain the pasta, reserving about 1 cup (8 fl. oz./250 ml.) of the cooking water. Add the pasta to the pan with the sauce, place over high heat, and toss the pasta and the sauce together for about 1 minute to distribute all the ingredients evenly, adding a little of the cooking water if needed to moisten the sauce. Transfer to warmed individual shallow bowls and top with the bacon, garlic, parsley and plenty of pepper. Serve right away. Serves 4.