Pizzoccheri are a short and flat type of pasta from the Valtellina region in Northern Italy, made from buckwheat and semolina flour. You can buy them dried or make them yourself (something I might try another time). They are traditionally eaten with swiss chard (coste) or savoy cabbage (verza) and the local cheese: valtellina casera. This cheese is important to get the authentic taste, but if you can’t find it then fontina can be used as a substitute. This is the only traditional pasta dish that I know that has cabbage in it. Unlike other pasta dishes that are supposed to serve as part of a menu, pizzoccheri are typically served as piatto unico, a full meal consisting of just this done dish. I made it for the first time and liked it. I used the recipe printed on the package, but increased the amount of vegetables as per other recipes found online.
For 2 servings
160 grams (0.35 lbs) pizzoccheri
200 grams (0.44 lbs) savoy cabbage or swiss chard
175 grams (0.39 lbs) potatoes
50 grams (1/2 stick) butter
1 clove garlic
125 grams (0.28 lbs) Valtinella Casera cheese (substitute with Fontina)
75 grams (0.14 lbs) Parmigiano Reggiano or Grana Padano
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Peel the potatoes and cut into cubes (about 1 cm or 1/3 inch). Remove the large veins from the cabbage (you should have about 125 grams or 0.28 lbs left) and cut the leaves into pieces (about 2 cm or 1 inch).
Bring a pot of salter water to a boil. Add cabbage and potato and cook for 5 minutes.
Add the pizzoccheri and cook for another 12 minutes (or as indicated on the package).
Meanwhile, cut the Valtinella Casera into thin slices and grate the parmigiano or grana.
Melt the butter and very gently fry the garlic in it over low heat, the butter should not burn.
Traditionally Pizzoccheri alla Valtellina are served family style in a large dish (like a lasagna dish). Since I was making only two servings, I decided to serve them directly onto preheated plates.
First I put a layer of pizzoccheri and vegetables on the plate, using a slotted spoon.
Then I added a layer of both cheeses.
I repeated with layers of pizzoccheri and vegetables and cheese until I had used up all the ingredients. Then I discarded the garlic and poured the butter on top.
Pizzoccheri alla Valtellinese are traditionally accompanied by a red wine from the same region (Valtellina Superiore DOCG) made from nebbiolo grapes. A nebbiolo from Piemonte should also do the trick.
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