“In this series I am sharing inspirational Italian recipes”
This is one of the most popular dishes in the valley where I spent my childhood. The pasta is made from buckwheat and regular flour and is cooked in boiling water with cabbage and potatoes. Then everything gets mixed and strained before we add in the garlic, stir-fried with lots of butter and cheese. It’s a very heavy dish, traditionally made with farmer’s cheese.
On Sundays in the summertime, we used to attend food parties in the town’s piazza where the older generation made this dish. For me, pizzoccheri is one of those dishes that brings back very strong memories. I used to love going with my friends to the local restaurant to eat this dish. In Valtellina, there is actually an academy of pizzoccheri where you can learn how to make it! My mom used to make this whenever we had somebody over from out of town, like my grandparents or aunts and uncles from Naples. It was always delicious.
We’d also make it in October when my dad did the vendemmia (grape harvest). I remember waking up early in the morning to pick grapes in our vineyard and help my mom in the kitchen. There was something very special and precious about that process that I still hold in my heart today. But when I moved to Vancouver, pizzoccheri was very difficult to find, so I learned how to make it myself. Today, it’s possible to find cheese from the valley, where I grew up, in stores in Vancouver, but if you cannot find cheese from Valtellina, you can use Fontina, Gruyere, Emmental or Gouda (basically any cheese with a smoky flavour).
PIZZOCHERI/ BUCKWHEAT PASTA
- 400 g buckwheat flour ( 3¼ cups)
- 100 g regular flour (¾ cup)
- 250 to 300 ml warm water
- 500 g cabbage, freshly chopped (savoy cabbage is most commonly used in Italy; however, you can substitute Swiss chard, spinach or even purple cabbage)
- 1½ cups potatoes, peeled and cubed
- 100 g unsalted butter (½ cup + 3 tbsp)
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1 cup Valtellina Casera cheese, cubed
- ½ cup Grana Padano or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated
- Salt & Pepper, to taste
- a Sprinkle of Love
- Start making the pasta by putting the flour in a bowl, mixing them together; add the water (heated to around 122 °F/50 °C) and mix.
- Turn out the dough onto a wooden surface or counter and knead for 10 minutes.
- Shape the dough into a round ball (it should feel silky) and let it rest for 5 minutes.
- Then, spread some flour on the counter. Using your rolling pin, roll out a circle that is 2-3 mm thick.
- Trim the edges to create a rectangular shape then cut the dough with a knife into strips that are 7 cm wide.
- Put three to four strips on top of each other and cut out the pasta in the shape of fettuccine (about 1 cm in width for each piece). Cut all the dough before cooking the pasta.
- Now put a pot with water on the stove to boil; wash the savoy cabbage and chop it into slices.
- Once the water is boiling, add some salt and the potatoes and cook for 3 minutes.
- Add the cabbage and cook for another 4-5 minutes.
- Add the pasta and toss everything together gently.
- Put the garlic and the butter in a pan. Cook slowly and let the butter brown.
- Get a big bowl or lasagna pan and put it close to the stove; then scoop up some of the pizzoccheri into the bowl or pan. Add a layer of mixed cheeses. Continue layering until you have used up your ingredients. End with a layer of cheese.
- Add the melted brown butter and garlic on top of the pizzoccheri-melted cheese mixture. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Mamma Marzia’s Tip: You can make this dish in advance. Follow the steps up to and including the addition of the cheeses. Once you are ready to eat, place the pan of pizzoccheri-cheese mixture in the oven, covered with foil. Warm it up until the cheese melts and add the butter with the garlic on top before serving.
Cooking with Mamma Marzia: Authentic Italian Recipes for the Whole Family is a collection of my family recipes, traditions, and cultures passed down through generations of my family. This cook book is my love story between me, my family, and Italian food. You will find easy-to-follow recipes with a deliciously appetizing photo to inspire your everyday cooking. My hope is that you will make many beautiful memories with your loved ones, cooking for them or cooking with them. And don’t forget to add a Sprinkle of Love in every recipe!
I really hope you will get in the kitchen and create some precious memories with your family or friends, if you need help with the recipe don’t hesite to message me on Social media.
Cooking with Mamma Marzia’s new cookbook is available on Amazon.ca
Recipe and food image courtesy of Mamma Marzia. I received a complimentary cookbook in December and I use it often. The recipes are easy to follow and the dishes are not only good but family friendly.