Groovy Default Pasta with Braised Radicchio and Caramelized Onion

Raddichio Pasta with Caramelized Onion

I don’t have kids. Or carpools. Or soccer practice. I’m not planning large meals while juggling the schedules of lotsa folks. We’re just a family of two trying to slow down and quit movin’ too fast. We try and make the mornin’ last. In fact, we’ve got no deeds to do, no promises to keep… most days.

But some days just don’t work out as groovy as we’d planned. Sometimes skipping down the cobblestones takes longer than you’d think.

For those days there’s Default Pasta with Braised Radicchio and Caramelized Onion.

So what exactly is Default Pasta? Well, as the saying goes– “quick boil some water, it’s Default Pasta night”.

At my house, Default Pasta makes an appearance whenever I feel dappled and drowsy and ready for sleep. In fact, I’d even go so far as to call these appearances star turns. That’s because learning how to bring forth quick, flavorful weeknight meals can be a lifesaver and a toe-tapper.

There are a lot of good reasons to master the concept of Default Pasta. Maybe you haven’t been to the grocery store for weeks and the fridge and pantry are pretty bare. Maybe you just want something simple and satisfying without too much thought or preparation. Perhaps you got caught up in a conversation with a lamp-post. These things have been known to happen. Never fear, if you follow my rules for Default Pasta you can make any meal special. Because if you have dried pasta around, even an old hunk of cheese rind can be turned into a quick, flavorful meal. You see that’s what Default Pasta is all about. It’s a quick, flavorful pasta dish using whatever you have on hand. Provided you have pasta that is, ‘cuz it’s just not Default Pasta without pasta. In fact, that’s the first rule.

So quick boil some water– while I’m feelin’ groovy. GREG

Braised Radicchio Pasta

Braised Radicchio and Caramelized Onion Pasta 

Print This Recipe Total time Yield 4–6Published
Radicchio Pasta


  • 3 tablespoon unsalted butter divided
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil divided
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt plus more for seasoning and pasta water. as needed
  • 4 medium onions peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 teaspoon red wine vinegar divided
  • 2 tablespoon water divided
  • freshly ground black pepper as need, to taste
  • 2 clove garlic peeled and minced
  • 1 medium radicchio quartered lengthwise
  • vegetable stock as needed
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes or to taste
  • 1 pound dried pasta
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese plus more as needed


Melt 1 tablespoon butter with 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet set over medium heat. Once the foam subsides add onions, 1 teaspoon thyme and ½ teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring often until onions are softened somewhat, about 6 minutes. Lower heat and continue to cook slowly, stirring occasionally until well caramelized and very soft, about 50 minutes more, depending on the water content of your onions. Add 1 teaspoon vinegar and 1 tablespoon water; stirring and scraping any brown bits from bottom of the pan until most of the liquid has evaporated, about 3 minutes. Repeat with another teaspoon vinegar and another tablespoon water. The onions should be a bit jammy. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer onions to a bowl; set aside.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for pasta.

Meanwhile, using the same skillet as the onions melt 1 tablespoon butter with remaining 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute. Place the quartered radicchio pieces into the skillet cut sides down. They should sizzle. Turn the radicchio to the other cut side and add enough vegetable stock to cover them about halfway. Add remaining butter, sugar, pepper flakes & a pinch of salt. Bring the water to a boil, then lower the heat to very low. Simmer about 15 minutes until the radicchio is tender and the sauce has been reduced to a syrupy glaze. If the radicchio seems done before the glaze is achieved gently remove them to a plate using a slotted soon. Continue to cook the sauce until it has reduced to the desired consistency. Pour the sauce over the radicchio; set aside lightly covered in a warm place.

Add the pasta to the pot of boiling salted water and cook until al dente, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain the pasta, reserving about ½ cup of the cooking water. Place the pasta in the warm serving bowl. Stir in the onions, Parmesan and enough of the reserved pasta water to get the onions to coat the pasta. Top the pasta with the radicchio, either in large pieces or roughly chopped, as you prefer. Finish with a sprinkling of Parmesan and a good grinding of black pepper. Serve warm.