Creamy avocado, smoky bacon, and bitter radicchio unite in this boldly decadent (and completely dairy-free!) pasta dish.  Serve with simple grilled chicken or white beans dressed with olive oil and lemon.

Pasta with avocado, radicchio, and bacon

Serves 4

4 slices bacon

1 head radicchio, cut into 8 wedges

1 bunch scallions, white and tender green parts, sliced

2 avocados, chopped

Handful fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced

8 ounces hot cooked short pasta shapes, such as radiatore

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

In a cast iron or other heavy-bottomed skillet set over medium heat, cook the bacon until crisp.  Remove the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate to drain, and pour off all but 1 tablespoon of the fat from the pan.

Return the skillet to the stove, raise the heat to medium-high, and cook the radicchio wedges until softened and browned, about 2 minutes per side.  Remove to a cutting board.

Add the scallions to the pan and cook until just tender, about 1 minute.  Remove to a large mixing bowl.

Crumble the bacon and add it to the bowl with the scallions.  Roughly chop the radicchio and add it to the bowl.  Add the avocado, basil, and hot pasta.  Season with salt and pepper to taste and drizzle with olive oil.

Make it kid-friendlier:  Bitter radicchio may not appeal to tiny taste buds.  If you omit it, add the juice of half a lemon (about 2 tablespoons) along with the olive oil to balance the richness of the avocado and the saltiness of the bacon.