Sour, salty and bitter. That’s how chef Max O’Callaghan describes the casarecce (short, curled pasta) with scorched leek, radicchio and squacquerone at Adelaide pasta bar Osteria Oggi. It’s a divisive dish – “there are no sweet elements,” O’Callaghan says – but regulars count the warming winter pasta among the restaurant’s best. “It’s different to all our other dishes here – there’s no garlic in it and there’s no parmesan,” O’Callaghan says. As for the sourness? That’s the squacquerone – a soft and creamy Italian cheese with a slightly tangy taste. The radicchio adds the bitterness. “It’s a comforting dish,” says O’Callaghan. “It’s rich and it’s good in winter.” What better time to make it at home?
Casarecce with Scorched Leeks, Radicchio, Squacquerone and Hazelnuts
1 medium leek
120g casarecce pasta
30g hazelnuts, crushed
50g radicchio, chopped
Salt and pepper
20g parsley, chopped
Scorch leek until the outside skin blackens, either over a gas stove or in a 250°C oven. While the leek is still hot, remove the blackened outside layers and set aside. Once cool, roughly chop.
Fill a pot with salted water and bring to the boil. Cook the casarecce in the salted water.
In a pan, brown off the butter with the crushed hazelnuts and capers. When the butter has coloured, add the chopped leeks and a ladle of pasta water. Add radicchio.
Just before the pasta has reached al dente, add to the sauce and finish cooking. Add more pasta water to maintain a wet consistency.
When the pasta is cooked, add the squacquerone, a squeeze of lemon, and salt and pepper to taste. Toss lightly and garnish with parsley and roasted hazelnuts to serve.