- Pasta bakes
- Cheese pasta bakes
Pizzoccheri is the name of a pasta with buckwheat flour and wheat flour. In this version I have slightly adapted the traditional recipe in order to lower the fat and carb rate (less butter, less pasta, more vegetables).
1 person made this
- 1/2 green cabbage or savoy cabbage (400g cut)
- 200g (7 oz) potatoes
- 2 cloves garlic
- 6 sage leaves
- 140g (5 oz) fontina cheese
- 60g (2 oz) Parmesan cheese and/or Pecorino
- 200g (7 oz) pizzoccheri pasta, uncooked
- 30g (1 oz) butter
- salt and black pepper to taste
MethodPrep:20min ›Cook:35min ›Ready in:55min
- Wash the cabbage and remove the ugly leaves. When you use green cabbage remove the dark green leaves (these are too tough). Cut the cabbage in the length into two halves, remove the trunk, and cut it into small pieces. Peel the potatoes and cut them into cubes of 2/3 inch (1.5-2cm). Cut the garlic into pieces. Wash the sage leaves and cut them into strips. Cut the fontina into cubes of 0.4 inch (1cm) and grate the Parmesan cheese.
- Heat water in a big cooking pan and add salt. Add the cabbage and the potatoes and let them boil for 15 minutes. Add pasta in the same cooking pan. The cooking time of the pasta can vary between 8 and 15 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 180 C / Gas 4.
- Prepare the sage garlic butter while the vegetables and pasta cook. Fry the sage in the butter on a low fire. Add garlic after 1 minute and fry the ingredients for 5 minutes. Keep the fire low, otherwise the garlic will burn. After frying keep the mixture apart.
- Pour off the vegetables and the pasta when they are ready. Let them drain in a colander.
- Fill a casserole with the ingredients. The first layer consists of 1/3 of the vegetables and pasta mixture. Add pepper to taste. The second layer consists of ½ of the fontina cheese and ¼ of the Parmesan cheese. The third layer is equal to the first layer. The fourth layer is equal to the second layer. The fifth layer consists of the remains of the vegetables and pasta mixture. Now you spread the sage garlic butter over the dish. You finish with the top layer: the remains of the Parmesan cheese (50% of the original quantity).
- Put the casserole in the oven and heat for 15 minutes. Serve immediately.
The pizzoccheri pasta can be replaced with wholewheat tagliatelle. Please adapt the cook time.
If Fontina cheese is not available, replace it with sweet smelly cheese. The taste will be fine but not as good.
The cabbage can be wholly or partially replaced with spinach or wild spinach. Cook these vegetables for 1 minute.
The remaining 1/2 cabbage can be cut, blanched and frozen in order to you use it next time. Don't throw away the remains of your dish. This dish tastes even better next day. A perfect lunch snack!
See it on my blog
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You, too, can make Pizzoccheri Pasta at home!
Today, I will once again stray from the Bartolini recipe file and show you how to make another pasta. This one, made with buckwheat, is called pizzoccheri, and originated in the most northern part of the Italian peninsula. I first heard of this pasta, and its namesake dish, from a fellow blogger “MusingMar” when she shared the recipe for this unusual dish last February in her blog, Life Through the Kitchen Window. If you’ve not met Mar, I hope you take a few minutes to visit her WordPress “home”. Similar to my documenting my family’s recipes for future Bartolini, Mar is gathering her recipes as a gift for her children. And what a gift it will be! Her blog features delicious recipes that are well-written, easy to follow, and beautifully photographed. One day, her kids will thank her but, in the meantime, we’re welcome to have a peak and even “borrow” a few.
When Mar posted her recipe for pizzoccheri, she called it “Italian Comfort” — and is it ever! This pasta dish features potatoes and cabbage, with some butter, garlic, and sage thrown in for good measure. Oh! Did I mention the Fontina and Parmesan cheeses? Yes, this is one hearty dish, made even more so by its buckwheat noodles. And this is where I got involved. When Mar posted her recipe, she mentioned that she makes it with regular fettuccine since she’s been unable to find buckwheat noodles. She asked if I could be of help. Well, I love a challenge, so, of course I agreed.
First, I searched the web and learned that the dish originated along Italy’s border with Switzerland. As Mario Batali is quick to point out, the northern districts of Italy use eggs and “double zero” flour in their pasta dough and, as you travel south, the flour is mixed with semolina and water is used with the eggs. When you get to the very south, the dough can be all semolina with little or no egg used at all. Well, since this pasta came from the extreme north, chances are its dough was all double zero flour and eggs, without any semolina or water used. Knowing that, I began searching the web and weeded out recipes that didn’t seem to have originated in the north. One memorable recipe used Grappa and Vermouth. Seeing that, I decided to go ahead and trust my own instincts.
Based roughly on Mom’s dough recipe, I used a 4 to 1 ratio, meaning 2 cups of buckwheat flour and ½ cup of all-purpose (AP) flour. I also used 3 eggs but the dough was too dry and I had to add some liquid. An egg would have been too much so I added about 2 tbsp of water to the food processor. After it rested for 30 minutes, I treated it like I would any pasta dough and cut the pasta by hand. In all, I ended up with a little over a pound of pizzoccheri pasta. While they cooked up just fine, the pasta broke into small pieces when everything was assembled for the oven and, although the finished dish tasted great, it certainly wasn’t the most appealing thing I’ve ever served myself. Not only that, since I used the entire batch of pizzoccheri pasta in the dish, I had plenty — and I do mean plenty — of pizzoccheri to eat during the following week. As luck would have it, pizzoccheri week was followed by the boiled dinner days of March. One could say that I enjoyed more than my fair share of cabbage during that time period and pizzoccheri was off of the menu for a spell.
Finally, this past Friday I decided to try again. Having spoken with Zia, we agreed that my first attempt failed because it needed more gluten to hold the noodles together and that I rolled the dough too thin. This time around, I used 2 parts buckwheat flour to 1 part AP flour. Again, I only used eggs and the dough handled much better, although still not as easy as regular pasta dough. Once the dough was made, I followed Mar’s recipe and this time the noodles “survived”. This pizzoccheri was not only delicious but it looked great, too. Success!
Today’s recipe is from that final, successful attempt. Although I only made 12 oz. of pasta, you can easily adjust the recipe to make more or less, depending upon your needs. As mentioned above, use a ratio of 2 parts buckwheat flour to one part AP flour and I estimate 1 egg is needed for every 75g of flour. Be aware that buckwheat flour is heavier than AP flour and that’s why I used weight, rather than volume, measurements the second time around. (Where volume measurements are given in the recipe that follows, they are my best guess approximation.) Your dough will be a little more moist than normal pasta dough but should not be sticky. This dough dries faster than most and the extra moisture will be needed as your roll it out and cut the pasta. Work quickly and do not roll it as thin as you normally would for fettuccine or pappardelle. Additionally, do not allow the sheets to dry as much as you would normal pasta before it’s cut into noodles. If it is too dry, the pizzoccheri dough sheets will become brittle and break as you prepare to cut them by hand or when passing them through your pasta cutters. As complicated as this all may seem, once you start working with the dough, especially if you’ve pasta-making experience, you’ll see what I mean. Really, it’s a little tricky but not nearly as impossible as this may sound.
How To Make Home-Made Pizzoccheri Pasta
yield: approx 12 oz pasta dough
- 150 g buckwheat flour (about 1¼ cups)
- 75 g AP flour (about ⅔ cup)
- 3 large eggs
- pinch of salt
- Place all ingredients in a food processor and process until a dough ball forms, usually within about 30 seconds.
- Remove dough and knead on a floured surface for a few minutes. Cover with an overturned bowl or plastic wrap and allow to rest at least 30 minutes and no more than 60. If you must rest dough longer than an hour, refrigerate it until you’re ready to roll it out.
- To roll the dough:
- If using a rolling pin, roll the dough until about twice as thick as you would when making fettuccine.
- If using a stand mixer rolling attachment or hand cranked pasta machine with ” as the widest setting, pass the dough repeatedly through the rollers, increasing the number setting each time, up to and including the ” setting.
- If your roller gizmo’s widest setting is ”, pass the dough repeatedly through the rollers, decreasing the number setting each time, up to and including the ” setting.
- Pass the sheets individually through the largest pasta cutters, usually fettuccine-sized.
- Place newly cut fettuccine aside on a floured surface and repeat the process for all the dough sheets.
- One by one, lightly flour each sheet, fold it in half, then in half again.
- Using a sharp knife or pastry cutter, trim off the 2 ends of the folded dough sheet (sfoglia).
- Cut your noodles. Tagliatelle are no less than ¼ inch (6.4 mm) wide. Fettuccine are no less than ⅓ inch wide (8.4 mm). Pappardelle are no less than ½ inch (12.7 mm) wide.
- Unroll the cut sections to produce the noodles, place the newly cut pasta aside, and repeat the process until all the dough sheets have been cut.
The dough sheets must be well-floured to prevent them from sticking when folded and cut.
Now, I realize that this may seem like a difficult process just to make some pasta, especially for the inexperienced pasta maker. As I’ve mentioned, if you’ve made pasta at home, my precautions will make sense and this will probably not seem so difficult. If you haven’t, I’d suggest you start with a regular pasta dough recipe (see Mom’s Pasta Dough) before attempting this one. This dough is not nearly as “forgiving” as normal pasta dough and, as such, is not a good dough to use when learning the ropes of pasta making. Besides, you can always use regular fettuccine or tagliatelle noodles in your pizzoccheri or, if you must have buckwheat, try soba noodles. Don’t let your noodle prevent you from enjoying a great dish!
And thank you, Mar. When all is said and done, I learned both a new recipe and how to make buckwheat pasta. Not a bad outcome.
Pizzoccheri della Valtellina | Recipe
This recipe has been a while in coming, and with yesterday’s yearned-for rain making it feel like fall, at least for a few hours, I thought it was time to share it.
One thing I have yet to fine tune is how to size down my food shopping when I am cooking for the blog, or even for myself. I still have the tendency to purchase in bulk, a habit retained from my restaurant days that I am finding hard to relinquish.
Well, you know, the red chard looked so good, why buy just one bundle when I could get two. And those cute little potatoes… the bag they come in is not that big!
This was just a few days ago. A few months ago, when, after scouring all the specialty food stores in the area without success, I finally found the closest thing to pizzoccheri made in Italy online at, where else, Amazon. Since I had spent so long looking for them, I thought: why order just one bag? Two would be better. So I did. Except when the box arrived I found that by “bag” the supplier meant a bag of four packages, so I have enough pizzoccheri till kingdom come, which is why I did not even consider making the pasta from scratch.
Pizzoccheri is a regional dish from Valtellina, in the Lombardia Alps, Northern Italy. They are part of so called cucina povera – literally: poor man’s food. This usually means tasty food made with simple and inexpensive ingredients easily available in the area. The pasta itself is made with four parts buckwheat flour and one part wheat flour + water. Traditionally, the pasta is not cut into tagliatelle style noodles (like the image above), but into wider bands the length of a small finger. Once cooked, pizzoccheri are dressed with boiled potatoes, cabbage or Swiss chard, abundant brown butter with garlic, and one of two typical cheeses of the area, one called Casera, the other Bitto, as well as some grated Parmigiano.
I have so far been unable to find either Casera or Bitto here in the U.S., so I have been substituting it with another cheese from the Italian Alps that is imported more regularly: Fontina della Val d’Aosta, or simply Fontina. I chose red chard because it looked good and would add a touch of extra color without affecting the taste, and those little potatoes because they looked good, too, would taste good and would cook in less time. I also chose to not peel them, which is very American style, as in Italy we always peel our potatoes.
And because when I eat them at my favorite Valtellinese restaurant in Italy I can also taste some onion, I added a little of that, though it is not in the original ingredients.
PIZZOCCHERI DELLA VALTELLINA
yields ca 6 portions (5 if you are ravenous)
- 350 gr. (12.3 oz.) pizzoccheri pasta
- 250 gr. (8.8 oz.) freshly grated Valtellina Casera cheese, or Fontina
- 150 gr. (5.3 oz.) freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano
- 500 gr. (ca 17 oz.) new potatoes
- 500 gr. (ca 17. oz.) Swiss chard
- 200 gr. (ca 7. oz.) butter (unsalted)
- 4-5 cloves of garlic, peeled and cut in half, core removed
- 1/2 medium onion, finely sliced
- extra-virgin olive oil
- coarse sea salt
- fine sea salt
- freshly cracked black pepper
The original recipe asks to boil the potatoes, Swiss chard and pizzoccheri pasta in the same pot, adding first whatever takes longer to cook (the pasta). Because I am not one for sloppy, boiled greens, I do it differently. I sauté the Swiss chard separately with a little extra-virgin olive oil and a couple of those garlic cloves. Up to you what you prefer to do: traditional or my way.
About the potatoes: I selected these small ones and boiled them whole separately, then cut them in half. Depending what size potatoes you use, cut them down to bite size pieces before or after boiling, and obviously before if you will choose to cook them with the pasta.
Step 1 – Prep the Swiss chard by slicing down the center rib and then cutting cross wise to get smaller pieces. If you want to do like me, add a couple of tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil and a couple of garlic cloves to a large sauté pan and heat on medium heat. Add the chard, season lightly with salt and pepper and cook, covered, till tender but still vibrant. Set aside.
Step 2 – Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add a couple of handfuls of coarse sea salt, just like you would for cooking all other pasta. Cook the potatoes and pizzoccheri till tender but still both al dente. Pizzoccheri take about 10 minutes or more to cook, depending on the thickness.
Step 3. In the meantime, brown the butter in a sauce pan with the rest of the garlic and the finely sliced onion. Place a baking dish to warm in the oven or toaster oven.
Step 4. When cooked, strain the pizzoccheri and potatoes. If you are using the shorter pizzoccheri pieces, then you can do the straining with a spider strainer or slotted spoon, otherwise it is best to just pour the whole thing into a large pasta strainer set in the sink and just drain the water away all at once, which is what I had to do.
Place some pizzoccheri and potatoes in the warm baking dish, sprinkle with the grated cheeses and the Swiss chard, then do another layer of pizzoccheri and potatoes, sprinkle with the cheeses and chard and continue alternating this way.
Pour the hot brown butter all over the pizzoccheri and serve. No stirring necessary.
However, because this dish is also excellent prepared and then stored for later or the next day, if that is what you are planning to do, it is better to do things slightly different.
- Strain the pizzoccheri and potatoes into a pasta strainer, getting rid of all the water. Place it back into the hot and now empty pot, add the Swiss chard, the fried butter and stir.
- Now start layering it in a buttered baking dish, alternating with the grated cheeses. Let cool to room temperature, then cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator till ready to use.
- When ready: remove the plastic wrap, dot with a little butter and place in the oven at 380ºF/190ºC for about 20-30 minutes, until hot and bubbly and nicely crisped on top.
This is also what you would do with leftovers, minus the butter dots.
Pizzoccheri is one of my favorite dishes, and I hope you will enjoy it and get comforted on a cold winter evening. And if you happen to be in Valtellina, Italy, you can always go and taste the original version there. If you are around my home town of Varese – lots of beautiful lakes around there, btw – you can always stop in at Crotto Valtellina Restaurant and enjoy some of the best I have ever tasted.
Here in the Bay Area, the only place where you can taste real Pizzoccheri is at the one and only Valenti & Co Restaurant in San Anselmo. Chef Duilio Valenti is from Valtellina, so you know you are going to get the real thing. Besides, he is the only one who has managed to get hold of the original cheeses!
Ok, now I am hungry. How about you? Which is your go-to comfort food?
This recipe was originally published on March 14th, 2014 in my Food Journey blog, which is now integrated into this one.
Pizzoccheri – Italian recipe (VIDEO)
The pizzoccheri is a traditional dish of Valtellina cuisine, northern Italy, worldwide known and much appreciated in the cold season!
For the dough
• 3 1/3 cups (400 g) of buckwheat flour
• less than 1 cup (100 g) of all-purpose flour
• about 1 cup (250 ml) of water
• 2 big pinches of salt For the sauce
• ½ lb (250 g) of chard
• ½ lb (250 g) of valtellina casera (or fontina) cheese
• 1 ½ cups (150 g) of grated grana (or parmesan) cheese
• ¾ lb (350 g) of potatoes
• 3,5 oz (100 g) of butter
• 1 clove of garlic
• salt and pepper
It’s bitterly cold outside today, so I want to make the pizzoccheri, a rich and very substantial meal, let’s see how to do!
In a large bowl, mix the 2 types of flour together, dissolve the salt in water, then combine the ingredients once blended, transfer to a work surface and knead.
That’s it, when you have a smooth and even dough, wrap in cling film and let it rest in a fresh place for at least half an hour.
While the dough is resting, move on to the vegetables: peel and cut the potatoes into cubes, then take the chard, or if you don’t have it you can use Savoy cabbage instead, strip the leaves from the stem, rinse and do this operation, that is remove the leaf from the stem, since the latter is tough and takes longer to cook than the leaf, so make a v-cut like this to separate it from the leaf… cut the leaves in this way, then cut the stems into sticks, about ½ inch (1 cm) wide, so they’ll cook evenly.
Now take the dough and, on a floured surface, roll it out with a rolling pin to a thickness of 1/10 inch (2-3 mm).
Once the dough is the right thickness, cut into stripes, about 3 inches (7-8 cm) wide. You can re-roll the dough scraps or use them as they are. Now overlap the stripes, that have been dusted with flour to prevent sticking, and, with a knife, cut into ribbons, about ¼ inch (½ cm) wide.
Place the floured pizzoccheri on a tray, then grate the casera (or fontina) cheese, and the grana (or parmesan) cheese at this point, since the cheese will melt from the hot ingredients, heat an oven dish, or a baking pan, in the oven at 350°F, until nice and hot. Then bring a large pot with salted water to a boil, drop in the potatoes… and the chard. As soon as it returns to a boil, wait 5 minutes… after that, add the pizzoccheri.
After the water has boiled for 5 minutes, we can drop in the pizzoccheri… they should cook for about 10 minutes… after the water returns to a boil. Now take a small pan, melt the butter… and slice the garlic sauté the garlic in butter until golden brown, then turn off the heat, remove the garlic and set the butter aside to be used later for dressing.
The pizzoccheri are cooked, so turn off the heat, take the oven dish, that is hot… here it is… and arrange the layers: drain the pizzoccheri along with the chard, a little at a time, and place on the bottom… then sprinkle plenty of grated cheese, both of them… and repeat another layer.
Finish by sprinkling the grated cheese on top and finally drizzle the melted butter… all over… the pizzoccheri are ready to be served, buon appetito everybody and enjoy!
Flour + Water
This is one of my favorite cookbooks of 2014 that I wanted to share with you. If I were asked whether I would like jewelry or a cookbook as a gift, I’d choose the cookbook every time. My personal favorites are obviously Italian cookbooks, but I also collect healthy and vegetarian cookbooks since I started my second blog, Recipe Rebuild and started to focus more on a plant based diet. I preordered this book Flour + Water by Thomas McNaughton as soon as I saw it would be coming available as pasta is my all time favorite food. I love making homemade pasta, varying the ingredients and sauces to create unique, full flavored dishes and this cookbook is a one stop tutorial on making amazing pasta at home. Being very comfortable making my own pasta, I find that some pasta cookbooks are geared towards the complete novice, and I find them a little too simplistic. This book is for pasta makers at all levels.
Flour + Water is restaurant opened in 2009 by David White and David Steele in the Mission district of San Francisco. They wanted to create a restaurant with a focus on artisanal homemade pasta and hired talented chef Thomas McNaughton, who was trained to make pasta in Bologna, Italy. I just wish I had known of this restaurant on my last trip to San Francisco as I would have loved to dine there!
The book is arranged to lead you gently by the hand on your pasta making journey. There are forwards written by the restaurant’s owners and chef explaining how the restaurant was created and evolved, and then you move into the basics in the chapter How To Make Pasta Dough. This chapter is very detailed, with a discussion on using the best eggs, how thick you should roll your dough, the importance of letting dough rest, and most important, basic dough recipes.
Although the basic pasta making section is very thorough, the soul of this book is the actual pasta and sauce recipes that is broken down into seasons. Since Italian food focuses on using fresh, seasonal ingredients this was a very smart plan. Summer includes such mouth watering recipes as Bigoli with Fresh Shelling Beans, Tomato, and Pancetta or Burrata Triangoli with Preserved Lemon, Summer Squash, and Mint. Autumn has one recipe I am dying to make soon that is called Mortadella Fattisu with Pistachios. This is simply a mortadella and cabbage stuffed pasta shaped like a candy that is sauced with a meat reduction flavored with whole grain mustard and apple cider vinegar and served sprinkled with chopped pistachios. The Winter chapter contains traditional recipes such as Tagliatelle Bolognese, Pizzoccheri (buckwheat pasta) with Speck, Braised Cabbage, Potato, and Fontina, and Tortellini in Brodo. The recipes in this chapter tend to be heartier with sauces containing braised meats and greens. Spring contains recipes typical of the season that are light and fresh flavored. Some of my favorites are Lemon Farfalle with Spring Pea Ragu, Asparagus Caramelle with Brown Butter and Meyer Lemon, and of course Goat’s Milk Ricotta and Artichoke Triangoli.
Flour + Water is full of mouth watering recipe photographs along with very helpful step by step photos for some recipes. This is such a beautiful book in fact it sat on my coffee table for weeks as I browsed through it on a daily basis. Although some of the recipes may contain ingredients that are not easily sourced for some, I feel these ingredients could easily be substituted with more readily available ones without changing the recipe too much. There is a source page at the back of the book for ordering both pasta equipment, as well as ingredients. I use my KitchenAid stand mixer with a pasta roller attachment as well as the extruder attachment for making pasta in my kitchen, and this method would work just fine for the recipes in this book. I recommend this book for anyone who wants to improve their pasta making skills and who enjoys spending time in the kitchen making amazing dishes. This is not a time-saving, quick and easy cookbook, but one that will teach you how to make delicious artisanal pasta at home.
What Other Famous Chefs Say About Flour + Water Courtesy of Ten Speed Press
“Without a doubt, Thomas represents the new American chef who is bringing pasta to the forefront of American cuisine. His passion is on display daily at flour + water and this book allows you to immerse yourself in the world of a truly talented chef.”
—Michael Tusk, chef/owner of Quince and Cotogna
“Pasta is my life. And for me, it is always such a rare and beautiful thing when someone else shares your passion and dedication to such a simple thing as a noodle. Thomas not only writes about pasta, but you get the sense when reading flour + water that it is his life too.”
—Marc Vetri, chef and author of Rustic Italian Food
“You might think that a comprehensive tutorial in pasta making would be dry, but you’d be wrong. I read flour + water in one sitting, fascinated by the lively story of one of San Francisco’s great restaurants and the smartly written, easy to follow recipes. This is an enchanting, inspiring book.”
—Daniel Patterson, chef and author of Coi
“There is a romantic, rustic, mysterious consonance about both Thomas and flour + water. It’s easy to lose yourself in each recipe’s seeming simplicity before—WHOOSH!—you’re consumed with complexity, wisdom, expertise, and sincerity you might have never expected. This is my favorite part about great chefs and their food.”
—Christina Tosi, chef/owner Momofuku Milk Bar
“Flour + Water is nothing short of brilliant. For anyone who adores great pasta and wants to truly understand the craft behind it, this gorgeous cookbook is a must-have. Thomas is creative, passionate, and has amazing energy he also has the hands of a nonna—a rare thing for sure. I’m going to go make pasta!”
—Barbara Lynch, chef and restaurateurhttp://www.flourandwater.com
Flour + Water
Ten Speed Press
Pages – 288
If you are interested in buying Flour + Water, you can find it at Amazon.com by clicking the book below.
(Photos courtesy of Ten Speen Press)
Evan Funke on How to Make the Perfect Bowl of Noodles
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CE: Tell us about your first pasta memory.
EF: My earliest pasta memory, or any culinary memory, was with my adopted grandmother, JJ. She was from Bologna and her husband was from Genoa and they lived in San Francisco. You’d walk up the stairs in this old flat and you’d smell the simmering ragu wafting down the stairway. She would hand make pasta in the apartment and serve it with pesto Genovese [basil pesto]. I was seven or eight years old then, but it really struck me – this is something really special.
CE: What do Italians really think of whole-wheat pasta?
EF: If you go to Bari and suggest using whole-wheat flour, they are going to say no f—–g way they would never use anything but semolina and water because that’s what they’ve been doing for generations. There is really such a small number of people in Italy that would even think about using the extruded dried whole-wheat pasta. But if you go to Trentino, you find a fresh buckwheat pasta called pizzoccheri, and in the Veneto you find fresh whole-wheat bigoli because that’s what is traditional there. If the tradition calls for buckwheat, then you’re going to find buckwheat. There’s no universal rule it’s all very regional.
CE: What whole-wheat pasta grains do you recommend for home cooks?
EF: I love Blue Beard durum and Red Fife winter wheat. Farro is great too, and Kamut. I also like buckwheat when it’s mixed with a little soft 00 for strength. [“00” is a finely milled wheat flour.]
Photo by Felix
CE: What shape is the easiest to start out with to hand make pasta?
EF: Cavatelli. Once you’ve made your dough and allowed it to rest, simply roll out a snake about as thick as your pinky. From the snake, cut small pieces about the size of the width of your index finger. Using your thumb, horizontally apply direct and even pressure to the piece as you push away, releasing upward. The pasta should magically curl around your thumb. Repeat as necessary.
CE: The custom of pairing sauces and shapes is practically a science in Italy. How do Italian chefs approach pairing?
EF: For me, it’s really about guidelines and knowing that what’s authentic in one region may not be authentic in another region. What should go with what all depends on whose grandmother you’re talking to. Tradition is deeply rooted with very little culinary crossover. Obviously, there are the standbys – like ragu Bolognese should never be paired with spaghetti, only Bolognese pastas such as tagliatelle, pappardelle, tortelloni and in some cases tortellini.
CE: What should every home cook know when cooking pasta?
EF: [Adding] pasta water is an amazing tool to help create silkiness in your sauces due to the starch released from the cooking noodles. For dried pasta, taste several pieces throughout the cooking process to ensure they are perfectly al dente. Once you feel it’s perfect for you, take it out of the pot with a basket or strainer instead of draining the entire pot and add it directly into your piping hot sauce.
CE: What is your best advice for making a perfect bowl of pasta?
EF: Don’t over-salt your water! The old wives’ tale that your pasta water should taste like the ocean is ridiculous. Season the water so that it tastes good, like a highly seasoned soup. This will ensure that your finished dish isn’t too salty when you add a touch of water to your sauce.
Katie Parla is a cookbook author, journalist and Italian-food expert. Check out her website at katieparla.com.
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Yes you CAN make buckwheat noodles (gluten free) at home!
Now let’s talk about the process of making these noodles. Before you is a dough ball…
Make sure to flour your surface and the top of the dough while rolling it out. Your dough shouldn’t be sticky at this point but you just want to cover your bases. The horror when you pour blood, sweat and tears into rolling out a dough and then realize it tears. Trust me, I screamed a couple of times during the initial recipe development phase for this pasta. Not cute. Not worth the vocal chord breakage.
The dough should be a dream to work with at this point. I love looking at how it is hanging over the cutting board without ripping. What a beauty! The dough will have a similar feel to how gluten feels, thanks to the psyllium husk powder. That stuff is magic. I buy mine from Trader Joe’s (it’s in the vitamin/protein powder section) and it makes this dough complete heaven. I tried several different times with and without an egg replacer and this is what I found the best success with. If you do not have psyllium powder or are allergic to it, you can always try flax seed meal or chia seed meal, equal substitutions. Just know that it’s psyllium that does the best job.
Be careful with those fingers! Use a sharp knife or if you don’t trust your ability to make a straight line you can always use a pizza cutter. Play with the shapes! Make thin or larger noodles–whatever you want. Once they are cut, sprinkle with more buckwheat flour to ensure it doesn’t stick together once cooked.
I love this photo because I wanted to show you how fresh and easy this pasta is to work with. No dry or cracking dough here! Look at how the buckwheat noodles hang like the sexy beast that it is.
Pizzoccheri is a traditional Italian meal that uses a flat pasta called tagliatelle and mixes it with some type of green (in this case, cabbage) and cubed potatoes. If that sounds like it’s a ton of carbs, it is, so eat this sparingly if you have a New Years resolution to eat healthier. If not, try this recipe for pizzoccheri from Food52 .
Stir fry cabbage is often considered the best vegetarian option to traditional Asian stir fry. It works, though, because cabbage is thick enough to fry up really well. And it mixes perfectly with carrots and ginger for a more authentic flavor. This recipe from the New York Times is a perfect alternative to a more traditional cabbage and black eyed peas New Years dinner.
7. Trout Omelet
Using fish in an omelet may seem a little strange. But it's actually a perfect way to use up odd scraps from a larger trout you grilled or smoked the day prior.
- 6 eggs
- 2 cups fish flakes, cooked steelhead trout or salmon
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1 minced green onion
- Salt and pepper to taste
- About 1/2 cup grated Pecorino or Parmesan cheese
- Butter to grease the ramekins
- 1 lemon
My Gift to You: Tropical Storm Sandy Seared Char & Hearty Lentils
It has been over a week since my last post and all is well. Thankfully, we managed fine during the storm, it has simply taken a few days to get fully operational. I bet you are wondering what to prepare when you’re waiting for a tropical storm to hit a non-tropical climate? One dish came to mind last week – a mix of hearty, healthy and homey – Seared Salmon with Lentils and Balsamic Reduction.
Last Monday ( pre-Sandy) we ventured to the local market to stock up. With limited supplies available, I picked up whatever looked fresh at the fish counter, assuming it would be a few days before we could even consider a luxury like freshly caught fish. The Arctic Char fillets looked juicy and firm, and with no fresh salmon in sight, that would be it. I decided to use the Char in place of salmon fillets for my tried and true hearty fall/winter recipe. This is a multi-step meal, so I’ll prepare the lentils in advance, and let them rest on the stove top or in the fridge. The fish and balsamic vinegar sauce can be prepared in about 15 minutes when you are ready for dinner. Highly recommend this nutrient-dense, protein-rich meal. Extra lentils make for a great lunch next day. Hubs is a fan, too. Things were a bit hectic, so sorry, no photos for this post.
The preparation is loosely based on Sally Schneider’s recipe from A New Way to Cook, replacing the lentil preparation with Jamie Oliver’s from The Naked Chef cookbook. I have modified the original lentil recipe to be vegetarian. Trust me, best lentil recipe ever.
Seared Char with Lentils and Balsamic Reduction
For the lentils, which can be prepared in advance:
- 1 cup Puy lentils, or green lentils
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 3 heaped tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary or 2 tablespoons dried rosemary
- 1 red onion or 2 shallots finely chopped
- 1 carrot, chopped (optional)
- 2 cloves of garlic finely chopped
- 2 1/2 cups vegetable stock
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the salmon and balsamic reduction:
- 1 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 2 6-ounce arctic char fillets, skin on (or salmon!)
- Dash cayenne pepper
- Dash kosher salt
- Fresh parsley, chopped (for garnish)
For the lentils: Give the lentils a quick wash. Using a thick bottomed, oven safe pan with a lid, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil and add the rosemary, onion, and garlic. Cook for 2 minutes, then add carrot. Cook for a further 2 minutes then add the lentils and fry for about 1 minute. Add the stock, put the lid on and bring to the boil, then transfer to oven and simmer in the oven for 1 hour at 300F, or until tender stirring occasionally. By this time a lot of the stock will have been absorbed.
Add 2 tablespoons of your best extra virgin olive oil 1/2 blespoon of red wine vinegar and black pepper and salt to taste. Set aside until ready to serve salmon.
For the balsamic sauce: In a small, non-reactive saucepan, bring the vinegar to a boil over moderate heat. Reduce the heat slightly and cook until reduced to 1/4 cup and thick and syrupy. Remove from heat and set aside
For the salmon: Place the salmon skin side up on a work surface and make several shallow slashes in the skin using a sharp paring knife (this will help prevent salmon from curling when it hits the hot pan). Sprinkle lightly with cayenne pepper and salt.
Heat a large, nonstick pan (cast iron pan works great, too) over moderate heat until very hot. Place salmon in pan, skin side down and to not move for 4-5 minutes (skin should be crisp and brown). Turn fillets over, and cook for another 2-3 minutes depending on how well cooked you like your salmon. Remove fillets from pan and let rest for 1-2 minutes while you prep the rest of the dish.
Return the balsamic sauce to the moderate heat and bring to a simmer. Add the butter and stir until blended.
If using parsley, stir into lentils. Mound lentils onto plate. Place 1 salmon filet on plate, then drizzle balsamic sauce around the lentils. Repeat and enjoy.
Watch the video: Συνταγή για φρέσκα σπιτικά ζυμαρικά από την Κατερίνα Λένη. Ευτυχείτε! 2122020. OPEN TV (November 2021).