ISSUE 38  |  Harvest Moon

Garden-to-Table Recipe: 10-Minute Pasta Sauce with Radicchio and Cheese

September 25, 2014 5:30 PM

BY Meredith Swinehart

I made this recipe for three reasons. One, I wanted to try a recipe from the cookbook we recently reviewed, Bitter. Two, I had just made fresh red pasta, colored with beets, and was seeking a sauce that wouldn’t clash with the earthy flavor. And three, I wanted a sauce that would show off my pretty red pasta (pink, when cooked). 

In no time, I settled on Jennifer McLagan’s recipe for Radicchio with Gorgonzola Pasta Sauce, though I had yet to learn the real reasons I–and you–should make this sauce. Reason four: it’s easy. Really easy. Aside from pasta, salt, and pepper, there are three ingredients. And finally, reason five: it’s delicious, and an impressive dish that suggests–not requires–hard work.

Photography by Meredith Swinehart

Above: Bright plum radicchio darkens to deep purple, and red pasta fades to pink–in all, a pretty color combination.

Above: The recipe calls for only six ingredients: cheese, cream, radicchio, salt, pepper, and pasta. Radicchio–healthy, crunchy, and bitter–is a needed counterpoint to the recipe’s cream and cheese. Interestingly, so is the freshly ground pepper; it adds a lot to this dish.

Above: I used fresh linguine because I had it on hand. Learn how to make fresh red pasta in Garden-to-Table Recipe: Colorful Fresh Pasta

Above: The extent of the cooking required in this recipe: melt it all together. 

Above: The dish was met with rave reviews at the dinner table. 

Radicchio and Gorgonzola Pasta Sauce

Serves 4 as an appetizer


  • 10-1/2 ounces penne (or other pasta)
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 3-1/2 ounces Gorgonzola dolce cheese, diced
  • 3-1/2 ounces radicchio leaves
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Sea salt

Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta, stir, and return to a boil. Adjust the heat so the water boils gently and cook the penne until al dente.

While the pasta is cooking, pour the whipping cream into a frying pan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Continue to boil until the cream thickens slightly and reduces to about 2/3 cup. Add the cheese, lower the heat, and stir until melted. 

Rinse and dry the radicchio and chop finely. Add to the sauce and stir until the leaves soften and change color. Season with salt and pepper. Drain the pasta and add to the pan, toss to coat with the sauce, and serve. 

Still in the mood to cook? See Gardenista’s trove of Garden-to-Table Recipes, including DIY: Rose Petal HoneyPumpkin Soup with an Unexpected Twist, and From Garden to Party: The 7 Best Holiday Cocktails