Pasta of the week: Pizzoccheri della Valtellina

One of my favourite winter pasta dishes is Pizzoccheri della Valtellina. The combination of buckwheat pasta, savoy cabbage or other greens, with fontina cheese and a buttery garlic sauce is so comforting and nourishing on a cold day. I bought some buckwheat flour recently, fully intending to make my own buckwheat tagliatelle but then I heard a little voice whisper, ”Don’t create a rod for your own back.” My home-made version will have to wait. Meanwhile, a timely box of Pizzoccheri turned up in that famous pasta aisle of Melbourne’s Mediterranean wholesaler. Organic, made in Valtellina in Lombardy, and labelled I.G.P ( Indicazione Geografica Protetta), who could resist the real thing.

Pizzoccheri della Valtellina

Pizzoccheri della Valtellina.

Recipe for 6 people. Adjust quantities accordingly, but I usually measure around 175g of pasta for 2 people and keep the whole garlic clove.

  • 500 g Pizzoccheri della Valtellina
  • 250 g potatoes peeled and cut into small cubes
  • 200 g Savoy cabbage, silver beet or Cavolo Nero ( I like to mix these for colour and use those that are growing in my garden )
  • 160 g Fontina cheese
  • 160 g grated parmesan
  • 200 g butter
  • 1-2 cloves garlic
  • salt/pepper

Method

Cook the potatoes in a large pot of salted water for 5 minutes. Add the Pizzoccheri pasta and the roughly chopped greens and boil for 12-15 minutes. Meanwhile melt the butter and cook the finely chopped garlic gently. Slice the fontina cheese and grate the parmesan. Heat a large serving plate and your pasta bowls. Once the pasta and vegetables are cooked, strain them and layer into a large serving bowl, along with the cheeses, alternating until the ingredients are used. Pour over the garlic butter and season. Serve.

The cheeses melt once layered through the hot pasta while the garlicky butter adds another tasty layer to the sauce. Simple and sustaining. Fontina cheese is a must in this recipe.

 

 

11 thoughts on “Pasta of the week: Pizzoccheri della Valtellina”

  1. What a tantalizing pasta dish. I must check with our pasta shop in the city to see if they have Pizzoccheri. I don’t think I’ve had this one. Checked the recipe for making the pasta, so if I must I’ll roll some out. Thanks for another new pasta dish to add to my board.

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    1. Thank you Ron. I think it’s easy enough to make if you have some buckwheat flour- I hope to do so when I get back. Am off to Bali again, and so I’ll down my cooking tools once more.

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  2. The green – eyed monster is afoot this morning as I do not think any of my suppliers would know what is available in your favourite pasta aisle in Melbourne 🙂 ! So love your recipe – eat plenty of buckwheat pasta . . . . ‘fontina’ and ‘savoy’ are beloved friends . . . . . shall think of you when I plate up . . .

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    1. I hope you can get your hands on some buckwheat pasta Eha. That long pasta aisle is in a large building in Brunswick, an emporium of Italian temptation. Short pasta along one side, long down the other, and pasta in between- it offers new shapes and brands with every visit. Even the folk from ‘the other side of the river’ like to do the stroll and come to practice their buongiornos and ciao bellas or sipping macchiato at the in shop cafe.

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  3. Golly that sounds good! Had to look twice before I realised what looks a little like pizza ‘ham’ is actually the pasta. I didn’t think that would be part of your normal additions. 🙂 My difficulty would be finding fontina cheese!

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    1. The Medit in Brunswick has it, but I haven’t seen it around in other shops. Use any mild soapy textured cheese that has some runny texture. as well parmesan.
      Yes, distracting word that Pizzocheri. I would think it is derived from pezzi ( pieces) and this led me to the Italian wiki, with this translation:
      ‘The name “pizzoccheri” seems to derive from the root “pit” or “piz” with the meaning of piece or even from the word “pinzare” with the meaning of crushing, referring to the flattened shape of the pasta. Other hypotheses would make the word pizzoccheri go back to the Lombard word “bizzo”, meaning “morsel” but this etymological hypothesis is rather unlikely.’
      It’s a very Northern, almost alpine dish, and unlike most pasta dishes we get/make in Oz. Goes well with our winter garden produce. Cheers.

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  4. My Encyclopedia of Pasta (author Oretta Zanini de VIta) has a long entry on Pizzoccheri and its origins. It’s a specialty of two towns in Lombardy, Teglio and Tirana, and there’s an Accademia del Pizzocchero di Teglio that safeguards the integrity of this product and defends against imitations.

    The “How Served” paragraph lists ingredients: potatoes, Savoy cabbage, melted butter, and local cheeses named camera and bitto. Just as you say.

    There’s quite a lot on the derivation as well, which basically agrees with what you said — the root word is the Arabic “pita” meaning bread, also the root of the word pizza.

    best… mae at maefood.blogspot.com

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