Outside the main gate to Ravenna's old city center is an inviting little restaurant called Trattoria Chilo. My husband Guy and I dined there outside on the patio surrounded by brick walls and climbing plants.
The owner, Rita Pezzi, is a vivacious person who gives cooking lessons in her spare time. She is lots of fun to talk to about Emilian cuisine. Our first course was cappellacci, fresh pasta stuffed with a mixture of fragrant herbs and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. After that we were offered un'assaggio, a tasting of paper-thin lasagne sheets with a mixture of vegetables nestled between them, and a plate of grilled vegetables, including the elongated radicchio di Treviso.
After all that, Guy was still hungry, so he ordered rabbit cooked with grapes, lemon, and parsley. I opted for a refreshing radicchio salad that was flavored with fried bits of pancetta (Italian bacon) and onions that had been cooked in a young balsamic vinegar. I was glad I did!
1/4 pound chunk pancetta, diced
1 large onion, peeled and diced
4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 pound (two small heads) radicchio, washed, drained, and torn into pieces
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 tablespoons Filippo Berio extra-virgin olive oil
Shavings of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Cook the pancetta without any additional fat in a sauté pan set over medium heat until it is crisp. Drain the pancetta on brown paper and set it aside.
Wipe out the sauté pan with a paper towel. Add the onion and the balsamic vinegar and cook over medium heat until the vinegar has evaporated. Stir the onion once or twice during the cooking. Transfer the onion to a dish and set it aside.
Put the radicchio in a salad bowl and mix in the pancetta and the onions. Toss the mixture with the salt, then with the olive oil.
Use a vegetable peeler to make long, thin shavings of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese on top of the salad. Serve immediately.
This recipe is from CIAO ITALIA - BRINGING ITALY HOME by Mary Ann Esposito, published by St. Martin's Press in 2001.
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