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Seared Mushrooms, Radicchio & Fregola with Whipped Ricotta

For salad:
1½ cups fregola (or pearl couscous)
2 Tbsp. olive oil, divided, plus more as needed
1 lb. cremini, button, or shiitake mushrooms (or a mixture), stemmed and cut into bite-size pieces
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbsp. butter
1 tsp. The Spice Hunter's Italian Seasoning Blend
1 tsp. balsamic vinegar, or to taste
⅔ cup whole-milk ricotta
About 2 cups finely chopped radicchio, either treviso or chioggia

For herbed balsamic vinaigrette:
2 Tbsp. finely chopped shallots
2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar, or to taste
¼ tsp. The Spice Hunter's Italian Seasoning Blend
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
5 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

1. To make the vinaigrette, combine the shallots, balsamic vinegar, Italian Seasoning Blend, and a pinch of salt and pepper in a small bowl or jar. Let the shallots macerate in the acid for 5 to 10 minutes to soften their pungency. Add the olive oil and whisk to combine (or put a lid on your jar and shake). Adjust the seasoning and acidity, to taste.

2. Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil. Add the fregola and cook until al dente, or according to the package directions. Drain and place on a rimmed baking sheet. Season with 1 to 2 tablespoons of vinaigrette, then stir and spread the fregola evenly on the baking sheet to cool and prevent clumping.

3. While the fregola is cooking, in a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-heat heat. Add the mushrooms in a single layer (in two batches, if needed, so they don’t steam). Sear without disturbing for about 3 minutes or until nicely browned, then flip and repeat on the other side. Season to taste with salt and pepper. (Repeat the process with any remaining mushrooms.) Return the full batch of mushrooms to the skillet and stir to combine. Lower the heat and add butter, Italian Seasoning Blend, and balsamic vinegar. Cook for another minute, stirring well. Remove skillet from heat and adjust seasoning and acidity, to taste.

4. Meanwhile, whip the ricotta. In the bowl of a food processor, combine ricotta with salt and pepper, to taste. With the motor running, add 1 tablespoon olive oil in a thin stream, and process until the mixture is smooth and creamy, adding more olive oil if needed. Adjust seasoning, to taste.

5. When ready to serve, dress the radicchio with just enough vinaigrette to coat, using your hands, then toss together the fregola, radicchio, and mushrooms (I like to do this on the rimmed baking sheet). Adjust seasoning and acidity (I sometimes drizzle a little more balsamic vinegar over the salad to balance its richness). On a large platter or individual plates, spread an even layer of whipped ricotta, going close to the edges so some of it will peek out. Top with fregola salad. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Recipe curtesy of Food52