A classic example of a healthy and hearty Italian vegetarian recipe is pizzoccheri. Pizzoccheri is not even distantly related to pizza; rather, pizzoccheri are small and thick flat ribbon noodles made of buckwheat flour. The name “pizzoccheri” has most probably evolved from the word “piz” or “pit”, meaning “pieces”.
Pizzoccheri is a dish native to the Valtellina region of Lombardo, Italy and hence valtellina casera or fontina cheese is primarily used in this recipe. Pizzoccheri is prepared by layering boiled pizzoccheri and vegetables with a cheese mixture. This recipe is very famous in Italy and is primarily eaten during the winter months because of its strong flavors.
Difficulty level: Easy
Servings per recipe: 3-4
Preparation time required: 1 hour- 1 hour 10 minutes
Cooking time required: 15-20 minutes
1 sauté pan
1 large pot
1 vegetable peeler
1 rolling pin
Plastic cling film
1 pizza cutter
1 slotted spoon
1 9-inch baking dish
½ lb. of potatoes
1/4th lb. of Swiss chard
1 clove of garlic, peeled and sliced
½ cup of grated valtellina casera (fontina) cheese
70 grams of unsalted butter
2-3 fresh sage leaves
Salt, to taste
1 cup of grated grana padano (parmiggiano reggiano) cheese
Freshly ground black pepper
For the Dough
2 cups + 2/3rd cup of buckwheat flour
1/3rd cup of all-purpose flour
½ cup of water, at room temperature
Salt, to taste
Method of Preparation
1. Sift the flour and the buckwheat flour into a bowl to take out any lumps and impurities from them. Then add some salt to the flour mixture and stir to combine everything nicely. Once done, make a small well at the center of the flour mixture and then pour some of the water into it. Combine the flour mixture with the water and blend the mixture to completely incorporate the water in it. Add more water until the mixture turns into a soft dough like thing.
2. Once you get sticky dough, sprinkle some all-purpose flour on your working table and then knead the dough until it becomes soft, smooth and non-sticky. Once that happens, wrap the dough in plastic cling film and then allow it to rest at room temperature for at least 30-40 minutes.
While the dough is resting, put the vegetables in a colander and rinse them thoroughly to remove any dirt and impurities from them. Once thoroughly rinsed, take the potatoes and peel off their skin with a vegetable peeler. Then cut the potatoes to get small cubes.
3. Next, take the chards and cut off the leaves from the hard stems. Then take the individual leaves and cut off the leafy portions from the tougher middle vein. Chop the leafy portions into halves and then slice the tough vein into ½-inch thick sticks.
Once done, take the clove of garlic and peel off its skin. Then slice the garlic thinly. Once everything is done, grate the two different types of cheese and then transfer them into a bowl. Toss the grated cheese to combine both of them.
4. Next, take the dough and unwrap it. Sprinkle some plain flour on your working table and roll out the dough over that, until you get a fairly thin pastry. The pastry should be about 1/10th-inch thick. Once the pastry is rolled out, slice it into long strips of about 3-inches wide.
Then slightly flour the top of each strip to prevent the two strips from sticking and then place the strips one over the other. Then carefully cut the strips into 1/4th-inch wide ribbons. Once done, put the pizzoccheri into a bowl and set them aisde.
5. Next, take a 9-inch baking dish and insert it into a 350 degrees Fahrenheit oven to heat it up nicely. Then take a pot and fill it almost up to the top with water. Place the pot on the stove and light up the flame. Set the flame on high and wait for the water to come to a boil. Once the water starts boiling, put the chopped chards and the diced potatoes into the pot of boiling water and boil them for 5-6 minutes or until the potatoes turn tender.
Next, add a pinch of salt to the water and drop the pizzoccheri into the water. Boil the mixture for another 10 minutes or until the pizzoccheri turn al-dente. Once done, skim the surface of the water to remove any scums and then turn off the flame.
6. Once the pizzoccheri are cooked, remove the pot from the stove and take a sauté pan. Place the sauté pan on the stove. Light up the flame and set it on low. Put the butter into the sauté pan and melt it. Then add the garlic slices and the sage leaves to the melted butter and sauté them in the butter, until the garlic slices turn brown and aromatic.
Once that happens, fish out the sautéed garlic slices and the sage leaves from the melted butter and reserve the herbed butter for later use. Once the baking dish turns hot, take it out of the oven and put ½ of the drained pizzoccheri and vegetables mixture into the dish. Cover the layer of vegetables and pizzoccheri by spreading half of the grated cheese mixture on top.
7. Spread the remaining drained pizzoccheri and vegetables over the cheese layer and then spread the remaining half of the cheese mixture over the second layer of vegetables and pizzoccheri. Once done, drizzle the melted garlic butter all over the layer of cheese and then serve the warm pizzoccheri immediately.
1. Make sure that the consistency of your pizzoccheri dough is perfect. It should neither be too soft nor too dense.
2. Pizzoccheri can be prepared and stored in air-tight jars for later use.
3. The pizzoccheri dough should have 80% buckwheat flour and 20 % all-purpose flour.
4. Parmesan, branzi, low-fat or bitto cheese can also be used in this recipe.