Pizzoccheri and Making Buckwheat Pasta

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 Pizzoccheri and Making Buckwheat PastaThis is a two-part post. Pizzoccheri, an Italian pasta casserole made with buckwheat pasta, swiss chard stalks, potato, fontina cheese and the making of buckwheat pasta. It’s a safe bet that you are probably like me and not too familiar with either.

I purchased an imported buckwheat pasta when I was in San Francisco in anticipation of putting this dish on the schedule. This is one I would have not have intuitively thought of. The dish comes from Valtellina, a valley in the Lombardy region of Italy, bordering Switzerland, where buckwheat easily grows.

Only the chard stalks are used, and the potato and pasta are cooked together. It then gets assembled and placed in the oven with fontina and parmigiano-reggiano cheese pulling it all together.

The green leafy chard can be used for another dish. I boiled and then sauteed the leaves with pine nuts, golden raisins, olive oil and a splash of vinegar and served it as a side dish with the pot roast made here . I always opt for rainbow chard if I can find it, especially in this dish where only the stalks are used.

The idea of pasta with potato is not new to northern Italy if you remember this dish from Genoa. It has inspired a dish that is coming soon, with homemade buckwheat pasta and sweet potatoes that you won’t want to miss.

You Can Making Your Own Buckwheat Pasta
Pizzoccheri pushed me a little bit outside the box. I’m not likely to make buckwheat pasta, but I had to try. And, it’s not that easy. Do not make buckwheat pasta as your first homemade pasta. You may become disheartened and never make pasta again. Master regular

There is no gluten to keep it together and it doesn’t get elastic enough to work with easily. It can stick in your pasta machine and frustrate you. But, keep trying because eventually, you will get the right feel of the dough and have success. It’s worth it.

The recipe for the PIzzocheri is from Marcella Hazan, but the recipe for the buckwheat pasta is my own, as I find using semolina flour helps the buckwheat flour gain some elasticity and is easier to work with.

Buckwheat Pasta Recipe
Ingredients

  • 1 cup buckwheat flour
  • 1/2 cup semolina flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon milk or cream (if necessary)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

I tried three different combinations and this particular recipe was by far, the easiest to work with.
My long standing recipe for pasta is 1 cup flour and 2 eggs, and then adding in more flour as necessary. In this case, you will probably need to add in more liquid, and I used 1 T cream.

Mix flours together with salt. Make hole in center and beat one egg at a time and gradually incorporate flour into egg, going from outside in.

  1. Wrap in plastic wrap. Allow to rest for 30 minutes. Dough will probably still be sticky, so use flour to roll out. If you put through the pasta machine, you probably won’t be able to go past number 4. After number 4, pasta starts to shred. Pasta will still be tender. You will probably need to clean your pasta machine with each pass through as the buckwheat pasta tends to leave residue.
  2. Once pasta dough has been taken through machine, allow to rest again for 20 minutes uncovered. This air-drying process will make cutting the pasta an easy process without stickiness.

Cook just as you would any other homemade pasta, boiling salted water and just a few minutes.

Pizzoccheri Recipe

Ingredients

  • 3 to 3 1/2 cups Swiss Chard Stalks cut into 3 inches long and about 1/2 inch wide (2 bunches)
  • Salt
  • 1 cup potatoes sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 4 garlic cloves, mashed and peeled
  • 2 dried or 3 fresh sage leaves
  • 4 oz. imported Italian fontina cheese, sliced thinly
  • 2/3 cups freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  2. Boil pre-cut chard stalks for ten minutes. Add potato, until cooked through. Drop pasta into water and cook until done, If pasta is homemade. If not cook pasta separately so as to not overcook.
  3. You can take chard stalks and potato out, set aside and put pasta in same boiling water.
  4. Saute garlic in butter on medium heat until golden. Discard garlic, add sage leaves, turn once or twice. Turn off heat.
  5. Drain pasta. Put pasta, chard stalks and potatoes into baking dish. Toss with sage butter.
  6. Put in fontina cheese, and place in upper most rack of oven for about 4 minutes. Serve with grated cheese.

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