Pizzoccheri

Valtellina – Lombardia

I first had this dish when I was ski-ing in Santa Caterina in the Valtellina just after the World Cup had been held there.  I liked it so much I asked the chef to show me how it was cooked.  He invited me to return the following day to cook it with him!  I still have the notes I scribbled on a scrap of paper that I made that day

SERVES 6

12 oz (350 g) dried pizzoccheri pasta, one of the only traditional wholewheat pastas

8 oz (225 g) potatoes, peeled and diced

7 oz (200 g) cabbage or spinach or anything green, trimmed

5 oz (150 g) unsalted butter

2 cloves garlic, sliced

Freshly grated nutmeg

Few sage leaves

7 oz (200 g) Fontina cheese, diced. It should be Bito cheese but that’s impossible to find outside the area

4 oz (l 00 g) freshly grated Parmesan cheese

  1. Cook the pasta, potatoes and green vegetables together for 20-25 minutes or until tender. Drain the pasta and the vegetables.
  2. Heat the butter and gently fry the garlic for a few minutes, adding the nutmeg and sage.
  3. Preheat a large serving bowl. Put a layer of the pasta and the vegetables in the bottom, sprinkle with some of the Fontina cheese and some of the Parmesan cheese. Repeat the layers once again.
  4. Pour the hot butter and garlic over the top, mix slightly into the pasta, and serve.

A variation if you want to prepare ahead of time is to layer the pasta, vegetables, butter and cheese into an oven proof dish.  Top with a layer of parmesan cheese and put in the oven on a medium heat for 15 minutes.  In this way the fontina becomes even more melted and stringy.

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