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Pizzoccheri

Pizzoccheri pasta is the ideal dish to warm, fill and satisfy! This hearty buckwheat pasta is rich and indulgent with lots of cheese and butter. Incredibly tasty and super easy to make, you’ll want to cook this regularly throughout winter!

Pizzoccheri pasta with cabbage and potatoes in red pan.
This pasta dish is so hearty, warming and delectable!

So what is pizzoccheri? Also known as Pizzoccheri alla Valtellinese, this unusual buckwheat pasta is combined with potatoes, cabbage and lots of gooey cheese then douse with a decadent butter sauce. It’s definitely rich and filling but also out of this world tasty!

This recipe for pizzoccheri was given to me by a friend whose late husband was from Sondrio in the heart of the Valtellina region in northern Italy. As with all traditional recipes, there are slight variations from family to family. I think the caramelized onions in butter set this recipe apart and above all others! 

You’ll also love this Pizzoccheri alla Valtellinese recipe because:-

  • Just like pasta al forno, it’s the perfect winter warming meal that will keep everyone sustained whether playing or working in the cold.
  • This is an authentic Italian pasta dish that is simple and easy to make as simple as my rigatoni arrabbiata.
  • While the ingredients seem very homely and basic, this recipe for pizzoccheri is bursting with flavor!!

For complete ingredient quantities and full instructions, please scroll to the printable recipe card bottom of the page.

Ingredients

Ingredients for this recipe viewed from above.
  • Pizzoccheri pasta – look for this Italian buckwheat pasta at Italian import stores or online. If you can’t find it ready, making homemade buckwheat pasta isn’t hard. Scroll down to “How to make pizzoccheri pasta” to learn more about it and check the recipe in the recipe card below. 
  • Potatoes – look for a potato variety that’s good for boiling which means it will hold its shape. 
  • Savoy cabbage – this is the commonly used cabbage for this recipe. However, other winter greens are also used like swiss chard (silverbeet) or spinach.
  • Butter – unsalted is best. If you used salted butter, take care when adding extra salt. Taste as you go.
  • Onion – the addition of onion isn’t seen in a lot of recipes but this is what sets my recipe apart from other pizzoccheri recipes. One of the most important instructions my friend gave me was to make sure the onion was well caramelized in the butter. And I will advise you to do the same.
  • Garlic cloves – this recipe has no substitute for fresh garlic cloves. Along with onion, garlic is a key component of the this dish.
  • Mild cheese – the typical cheese used for pizzoccheri is Valtellina Casera cheese but this is hard to come by outside the local area. Good substitutes are Fontina, Gruyère or Montasio.
  • Parmigiano Reggiano cheese – also known as Parmesan cheese which is should be relatively easy to find. Be sure by quality cheese. I also like Grano Pandano cheese for this recipe.
  • Salt and black pepper – seasoning as always is very important. Freshly ground pepper has the best flavor.

See recipe card for quantities.

Instructions

Place the butter and onion in a small saucepan over medium heat. Allow the butter to melt and start cooking the onion. Allow the onion to caramelize in the butter while you cook the vegetables and pasta. Be sure to stir every now and then.

Four step process showing how to prepare this pasta recipe.
  1. Peel potatoes and cut them into about ¾ inch (2cm) cubes.
  2. Remove the core from the savoy cabbage and cut it into large chunks.
  3. Place the potatoes into a large pot of salted water, and bring to a boil. Add cabbage.
  4. When the water returns to a boil, add the pizzoccheri pasta and cook until tender.
Four step process showing how to dress this pasta.
  1. Slice the fontina cheese thinly.
  2. Drain the pasta and vegetables and layer in a serving dish with both types of cheese.
  3. By now the onion should be caramelized. Add the slices of garlic and cook for 30 seconds – 1 minute.
  4. Drizzle the butter and onion mixture over the pizzoccheri pasta and vegetables. Combine gently and briefly.

Hint: keep the pasta warm by covering it with foil or a lid while preparing the butter mixture. Pop into a warm oven, if necessary.

Substitutions

  • Cabbage – instead of savoy cabbage you can use other types of cabbage, swiss chard or spinach.
  • Valtallina Casera or Fontina cheese – use Montasio, Gouda or Gruyère cheese instead.
  • Parmigiano Reggiano – Grana Padano can be substituted if you prefer.

Variations

Pizzoccheri alla Valtellinese is a very traditional dish but from family to family there can be a few variations such as these.

  • Green Beans – add topped and tailed fresh green beans when cooking the cabbage.
  • Sage – fry a few fresh shredded sage leaves in the butter when adding the garlic.
  • Garlic Butter – omit the onion and simply fry slices of garlic in butter until crispy and lightly browned.

How to make pizzoccheri pasta

Making homemade pizzoccheri pasta is quite simple and so satisfying. Buckwheat flour has very little gluten so the addition of wheat flour is necessary. The ratio of buckwheat to wheat flour can vary.

All you need is buckwheat flour, 00 flour or all purpose flour, an egg, a little pinch of salt and warm water. Buckwheat flour is gluten free so you need to add wheat flour to create a dough that you can work with.

I use a 1:1 ratio of buckwheat flour to wheat flour but you can add more buckwheat flour for a 2:1 ratio. Or change the ratio around. In fact, my friend uses a lot more wheat flour than buckwheat flour for her pizzoccheri pasta recipe. 

Four step process showing how to make homemade buckwheat pasta.
  1. Combine the buckwheat, 00 flour and salt on a work surface. Make a well in the flour then add the egg and most of the water.
  2. Use a fork or your fingers to combine the ingredients to form a ball and knead well. Set aside to rest.
  3. Roll out 1/4 of the dough to thickness of about ⅛ inch.
  4. Cut into short strips like short tagliatelle. Set aside until needed.

As you can see, homemade buckwheat pasta isn’t as dark as the store bought pizzoccheri. You can add more buckwheat flour for a darker pasta.

Equipment

Being a poor dish, this pizzoccheri recipe can be prepared in whatever pan you have. However, you will need a large pot to boil the vegetables and pasta. I like to use a colander to drain the pasta and vegetables but you can scoop them out with a slotted spoon. 

Storage

Any leftovers keep well in the fridge and reheat well in the microwave. If reheating in the oven, place leftover pizzoccheri in an oven proof dish and cover with foil to prevent drying out.

Tips for Success

Close up of the buckwheat pasta dish viewed from above.

Begin by preparing the vegetables and cheeses. Then start cooking the onions in the butter before anything else. This will take the longest time. If the onions are caramelized before the pasta is ready, simply remove from the heat and set aside.

Be gentle when stirring the pizzoccheri pasta. Buckwheat pasta can be delicate depending on how much wheat flour it contains. 

Pizzoccheri alla Valtellinese must be served hot. If necessary keep the prepared pasta warm in the oven.

FAQ

Where to find pizzoccheri?

Look for pizzoccheri in Italian import stores or search online. If you can’t find ready made pizzoccheri pasta, it’s easy to make this pasta at home. You don’t even need special tools! This buckwheat pasta is ideal rolled out by hand and cut with a knife. 

Do Italians eat buckwheat?

Absolutely! Buckwheat plays an important role in the traditional diet of Italians in northern Lombardy. The flour made from buckwheat is not only used to make this pizzoccheri pasta but also to make a dark polenta known as taragna polenta. Buckwheat seeds are thought to have come from Russia in the 1400’s.

How pronounce pizzoccheri?

Peet-zoh-KEH-ree with an emphasis on the “KEH”.

Serving Suggestions

Ideally Pizzoccheri alla Valtellinese are accompanied by a glass of good Italian red wine. Something from the Valtallina region would be perfect but your favorite medium dry red wine will be delicious!

Follow this hearty buckwheat pasta dish with a fruity dessert like apple crostata or simply stewed pears with a dollop of mascarpone cream.

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Pizzoccheri pasta with cabbage and potatoes in red pan.

Pizzoccheri Recipe

For this traditional Pizzoccheri alla Valtellinese, buckwheat pasta is combined with potatoes, cabbage and lots of gooey cheese then douse with a decadent butter sauce. It’s definitely rich and filling but also out of this world tasty!
5 from 34 votes
Print Pin Rate
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Servings:6 people
Author: Marcellina

Ingredients

  • 1 pound pizzoccheri pasta 450 grams (store bought or use recipe below)
  • 10 ounces potatoes 280 grams
  • ½ savoy cabbage 1 pound/450 grams
  • 8 ounces unsalted butter 225 grams
  • 1 onion
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 6 ounces montasio cheese 170 grams
  • 5 ounces Parmigiano Reggiano 140 grams
  • Salt and black pepper

Homemade Buckwheat Pasta (if store bought isn't available)

  • 1 ¾ cups buckwheat flour at room temp (200 grams)
  • 1 ½ cups 00 flour at room temp (200 grams)
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 egg at room temperature
  • cup warm water

Instructions

  • Peel potatoes and cut into about ¾ inch (2cm) cubes. Remove the core from the savory cabbage and cut into large chunks. Peel and finely slice the onion and garlic cloves. Slice the montasio cheese and finely grate the Grana Padano.
  • Place the butter and onion in a small saucepan over medium heat. Allow the butter to melt and start cooking the onion. Allow the onion to caramelize in the butter while you cook the vegetables and pasta. Be sure to stir every now and then.
  • Place a large pot of water over medium high heat. Put in the potatoes and 2 tablespoons of salt. When the potatoes come to a boil, cook for 2 minutes.
  • Then add the cabbage.
  • When the water returns to a boil, add the pizzoccheri pasta and cook for 10-12 minutes or until just tender.
  • Drain the vegetables and pasta. Spoon ⅓ of the vegetables and pasta into a heated large serving bowl. Scatter over ⅓ of the fontina and Parmigiano Reggiano. Continue layering the vegetables and pasta with the cheeses. Cover the bowl with parchment paper and foil to keep it warm while you finish the butter.
  • By now the butter should be browned and the onion caramelized. Add the sliced garlic to the butter mixture and cook for about 1 minute being careful not to burn the garlic.
  • Remove the foil and parchment paper and pour the sizzling butter, onion and garlic mixture evenly over the pasta and vegetables.
  • Stir the pizzoccheri just a little to begin to combine everything.
  • Serve very hot before the butter and cheeses cool.

Italian Buckwheat Pasta Recipe (if store bought isn't available)

  • Combine the buckwheat and 00 flour on a work surface, make a well in the middle and sprinkle with salt.
  • Crack the egg into the well in the centre of the flour and pour in most of the water.
  • Start combining egg and water using your fingers or a fork. Then start pulling in the flour and forming a dough. Add more water as needed. The dough should feel soft and supple, a bit like playdough.
  • Knead well for 5-10 minutes until smooth and elastic then form into a ball.
  • Wrap with plastic and set aside for 30 minutes to rest.
  • Take a 1/4 of the dough keeping the remaining dough covered. Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough on a floured surface (floured with 00 flour) to the thickness of about ⅛ inch thick (approximately 2-3mm).
  • Cut into strips 3 inches (7.5 cm) wide. Then cut the strips into tagliatelle just under ½ inch wide (or 1 cm).
  • Repeat with the remaining pizzoccheri pasta dough adding in any dough scraps.
  • Set aside until ready to boil. Don't pile pasta on top of each other or it will stick.

Notes

Tips for Success
  • Begin by preparing the vegetables and cheeses. Then start cooking the onions in the butter before anything else.
  • Be gentle when stirring the pasta. 
  • Pizzoccheri alla Valtellina must be served hot. Keep warm in the oven, if needed.
 
For more informations and other tips, please read the full post above.
 
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Nutritional Estimate Per Serving

Calories: 586kcal | Carbohydrates: 26g | Protein: 20g | Fat: 46g | Saturated Fat: 29g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 12g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 130mg | Sodium: 622mg | Potassium: 366mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 1412IU | Vitamin C: 6mg | Calcium: 461mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutritional Disclaimer

Nutritional information is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. For accurate results, it is recommended that the nutritional information be calculated based on the ingredients and brands you use.

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2 Comments

  1. Even if my own roots are in southern Italy, I absolutely adore pizzocheri! One of my favorite dishes to serve when the weather turns cold.