The idea for this radicchio experiment popped up in our Facebook feed, but we have a long history with radicchio, so it was inevitable that one day we might end up here. The taleggio addition came from nosing around the web. We love taleggio, so sweet and creamy and in this case worth a shot at countering the possible bitterness of the radicchio. At first we were also considering adding mushrooms to the mix from our happy experience with risotto years earlier, but since we were doing a pesto lasagna back to back, we thought we might temper the strong taste of pesto a bit with the sauteed ground mushrooms, armagnac treated of course. It was the fourth week of social isolation during the 2020 corona virus attack, and the kitchen was a comforting place.
After the fact we discovered that chopping up the radicchio and soaking it for 30 minutes would suck out some of the natural bitterness. Too late. Another trick was to first saute some shallots in oil and then toss in the radicchio. We reversed this advice, sauteeing the shallots afterwards and then tossing in the already sauteed radicchio. Better late than never?
The taleggio is not very cooperative when you are trying to cut it into little cubes. Simply too soft. We stuck half in the freezer while we fought with the first half. The cold definitely stiffened up the cheese, making it a bit easier to achieve the desired result, but it is still tedious depositing the little pieces one by one on each layer of the lasagna. Sticky little suckers. Next time we will think in advance.
Why did we wait so long to try this lasagna variation? It is a lot of work with the whole wheat noodle production so it was easy to go with a sure thing, which our traditional Roman lasagna surely was and still is. But without some adventurism, new discoveries are never made.
Being confined to our home with food high on our attention list, we decided to try two different lasagnas given the big effort that goes into the production, and also since we were only three for dinner, we could sample the two types, and have leftovers for "curbside pickup" by the inlaws. A total of 1.5 lb pasta recipe would be roughly divided into two parts, with a bit of an edge towards the new radicchio experiment.
We've done straight pesto lasagna in the past, and found you have to be really careful not to overwhelm the dish with too much pesto in the mix. This time we decided to add mushrooms to add to the taste and texture. Rather than sauteeing chopped mushrooms, we food processed the baby bellas (peeled first) into what looks like cooked ground beef, and sauteed them to lose the moisture, then heating off some tossed in Armagnac to boost the flavor. We then used maybe 45 percent of the 1.5 lb noodle recipe for this one, and maybe 2/3 c prepared pesto spread on each layer of beschamel pasta and parmigiano, the usual treatment, details are not so important. The mushroom made a pleasant addition to contrast the pesto.