Pizzoccheri alla Valtellinese is an authentic pasta dish from the town of Teglio in the Valtellina, a scenic valley in the Italian Alps.
This traditional pizzoccheri pasta recipe is easy to make at home since we shopped for hard to find ingredients at Eataly, a supermarket that specializes in importing quality regional food products from across Italy.
Homemade buckwheat pasta is boiled in a large pot with savoy cabbage and potato then layered in a casserole dish with bitto cheese. Fragrant garlic butter is poured over the dish, sprinkled with grated parmesan and then baked until the cheese is melted and bubbling.
We’re certain your family and friends will love forking through this cheesy pizzoccheri pasta, a mouth-watering comfort food from Lombardy!
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What Is Pizzoccheri alla Valtellinese?
Pizzoccheri alla Valtellinese, also known as Pizzoccheri della Valtellina, is a baked pasta dish from Lombardy, Italy.
The origin of the word pizzoccheri is the subject of many theories. According to some culinary historians, the word pizzoccheri is the product of the word “bizzo,” a dialect that means “a mouthful.” Others believe that it stems from the word “piz,” which is a local dialect meaning “a little bit” or “a little piece.” This would be fitting, as the pasta resembles short pieces or strips of tagliatelle pasta.
The first mention of pizzoccheri pasta occurs in 1550, in Ortensio Lando’s “Catalog of Inventories of Things That May Be Eaten in Italy.” For many years the rustic dish had a reputation as a peasant food, but today it’s a decadent indulgence that helps fuel hungry skiers after a long day on the slopes.
The northern Italian pasta dish Pizzoccheri alla Valtellinese recently became world famous after Stanley Tucci drooled over the dish on an episode of his wildly popular “Searching For Italy,” food and travel television show.
During a trip to Lombardy, Tucci visits cheese maker Paolo Ciapparelli, who’s devoted his life to preserving the process behind Bitto Storico Ribelle. The 2,000-year-old cheese is made from the milk of alpine herds. It is famous for being one of the most expensive cheeses in the world, as each wheel of bitto can cost up to $850.
Tucci heads to the cheesemakers family kitchen to prepare Pizzoccheri alla Valtellinese, a noodle made from buckwheat, which is layered in a casserole dish with boiled cabbage, potatoes and bitto cheese. A stream of garlic infused melted butter is poured over the dish, sprinkled with parmesan and then baked until bubbling.
Pizzoccheri Pasta is easy to make at home, prepared with a mixture of buckwheat flour and whole wheat flour. The pizzoccheri noodles consist of approximately 80% buckwheat, a staple crop in Lombardy for centuries. The unique purple coloured dough is rolled out and then formed into ribbons that look similar to tagliatelle.
The hearty and heart warming baked pasta casserole is typically served in the cold winter months. It’s the kind of seasonal comfort food you want to eat after spending a day skiing in the alps.
Shop For Quality Italian Ingredients At Eataly
If you love cooking authentic regional Italian recipes there’s no better place to shop than at Eataly.
Eataly launched its first “Eating Italian” marketplace in 2007 in Torino, northern Italy. Since then the Italian gastronomy powerhouse has opened more than 35 locations around the world including Florence, Milan, Rome, Istanbul, Seoul, Tokyo, Stockholm, Munich, New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, Vegas, and my hometown of Toronto.
Skip inside Eataly Toronto located in the city’s ritzy Yorkville neighbourhood and you’ll find a collection of restaurants serving regional Italian dishes, casual food and beverage counters, sweet smelling bakery, hands on cooking school, imported dry goods section, fresh pasta made before your eyes, impressive Salumi e Formaggi department, friendly butcher, extensive wine shop, and pretty fresh produce.
I was keen to cook this Pizzoccheri alla Valtellinese at home but I had never seen bitto cheese at my local grocery store before. I made a few calls to speciality cheese shops and family-run supermarkets in Little Italy and low and behold, the only place in Toronto that sells Bitto is Eataly. Proof that hard-to-find imported Italian ingredients are best sourced at the popular culinary emporium on Bloor Street.
Pizzoccheri della Valtellina is prepared with savoy cabbage, a varietal that isn’t always available at local grocery stores. Savoy cabbage leaves are unique in that they are ribbed and delicate, offering the dish a unique mouthfeel.
As soon as I stepped off the escalator at Eataly I visited the produce section to grab a large savoy cabbage then trotted over to the Salumi e Formaggi department.
Eataly Toronto carries over 150 varieties of Italian, Ontario, and housemade cheeses, including everything from the iconic Parmigiano Reggiano DOP in a variety of ages to fresh mozzarella made by Eataly experts every morning.
I snatched a large wedge of Parmigiano Reggiano DOP. The cheese department offers a mind-boggling 8 varieties of Italy’s most famous cheese. Produced in Emilia Romagna for centuries, Eataly sells various ages of Parmigiano Reggiano, ranging from 12 months to 48 months, Vacca Bruna (produced with milk sourced from heritage breed Brown Cows), and Vacche Rosse (produced with milk sourced from heritage breed Red Cows).
My last stop was at the cheese counter where the resident formaggi expert sliced me a large wedge of Bitto, which was definitely a splurge as it cost as much as a steak. Treat yourself!
Once back in my kitchen I fired up the stove, unpacked my Eataly bounty and prepared this homemade Pizzoccheri alla Valtellinese recipe for dinner.
Travel to Italy by Cooking Pizzoccheri Pasta at Home
I love traveling to Europe!
During my first visit to the continent I traveled for 5 months by train and plane. I had the opportunity to eat my way through Ireland, Scotland, England, Wales, Portugal, Spain, Belgium, Holland, Luxembourg, Iceland, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Russia, Estonia, Latvia, Poland, Czech Republic, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Lichtenstein, Croatia, Bosnia, Hungary, Romania, Slovakia, Greece, Turkey, France, Malta and Italy.
What I love most about traveling to Italy is the opportunity to sample unique dishes in each region and city. The dishes in Tuscany (Florence, Pisa, Volterra, Saturnia, Pitigliano, Sorano, Montalcino, Siena) are unique from what you’d find in Venice, Modena, Milan, Rome and the Amalfi Coast.
Pizzoccheri alla Valtellinese is a dish unique to Lombardy in Northern Italy. The region is home to the bustling metropolis of Milan as well as the star-studded mansions on Lake Como.
I first tasted pizzoccheri pasta in Lugano, Switzerland as it sits on the border of Lombardy. The talented chef at Grand Hotel Villa Castagnola grew up in the Italian alps and was keen to prepare a dish that was truly unique. I immediately fell in love!
The chef mentioned Pizzoccheri alla Valtellinese is traditionally prepared with bitto cheese but said you can also substitute it with Valtellina Casera or Fontina.
Once back home from your holiday you’ll have a newfound appreciation for the flavours of Northern Italy and can impress friends and family by making this decadent Pizzoccheri alla Valtellinese baked casserole.
My Family Loves Homemade Pizzoccheri
I love cooking Italian food for my friends and family!
After enjoying a trip to Ticino, the Italian side of Switzerland, and Lombardy I was keen to share my love for Pizzoccheri alla Valtellinese.
After shopping at Eataly on a cold winter afternoon I whipped up the dish in just a few hours. I served steaming plates of cheesy pizzoccheri pasta topped with crispy butter fried garlic with a cool and crispy glass of dry white wine. The acidity in the wine helps cut through the rich fat in the garlic butter and cheese.
The dish was obviously an instant hit so we now prepare it once or twice a year usually on chilly nights in February or November.
Our easy Pizzoccheri della Valtellina recipe is packed full of healthy ingredients!
Buckwheat is a highly nutritious whole grain that many people consider to be a superfood. Among its health benefits, buckwheat may improve heart health, promote weight loss, and help manage diabetes. Buckwheat is a good source of protein, fiber, and energy.
An excellent source of vitamins K and C, cabbage helps keep your bones, blood, and immune system healthy.
Potatoes are rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Studies have linked potatoes to a variety of impressive health benefits, including improved blood sugar control, reduced heart disease risk and higher immunity.
It is only recently that scientists have begun to identify the components responsible for garlic’s myriad health benefits. Rich in phytochemicals and potassium, garlic helps boost your immune system, fight cancer and protect your heart.
Consuming dairy products (such as milk and cheese) provides health benefits — especially improved bone health. Dairy foods provide nutrients that are vital for health and maintenance of your body. These nutrients include calcium, potassium, vitamin D, and protein.
Pizzoccheri Pasta Recipe Cooking Tips
This decadent pizzoccheri pasta recipe is easy to make at home.
- It’s easy to make homemade buckwheat noodles but you can also purchase dried pizzoccheri pasta to use in this recipe if you’re pressed for time.
- We recommend buying savoy cabbage as its unique delicate and ribbed leaves are traditional in this recipe. If you can’t find savoy use napa cabbage as the texture is similar.
- Sometimes savoy cabbage is replaced seasonally with swiss chard, kale or green beans.
- We’ve used Yukon Gold Potatoes in this recipe that are cut into small cubes. You can substitute with new potatoes or fingerling potatoes if you prefer.
- Use a large pot or Dutch Oven to cook the buckwheat noodles, cabbage and potato. You can conveniently cook them at the same time in salted boiling water and scoop them out with a large slotted spoon.
- We’ve used Bitto cheese in this recipe, which is conveniently sold at Eataly but can be tricky to find at a local cheese shop. Feel free to substitute with Valtellina Casera, Fontina or Gruyere.
- We like to serve the dish sprinkled with Parmigiano Reggiano but you can use other Italian hard cheeses like pecorino or asiago.
What To Serve With Pizzoccheri della Valtellina
There’s nothing more comforting than cozying up to a bowl of homemade pizzoccheri pasta.
The cheesy baked pasta dish is really filling so we usually just serve it with a fresh salad like Roasted Pumpkin Feta Salad, Roasted Beetroot Salad, Garlic Lemon Chickpea Avocado Salad and Fennel, Apple, Celery and Roasted Hazelnut Salad.
If you’re hosting an Italian-themed dinner party we suggest serving this pizzoccheri recipe as part of a buffet featuring other popular dishes and drinks like:
- Burrata Bruschetta Crostini
- Lumache Rigate Snail Pasta with Garlic Butter
- Creamy Saffron Tagliatelle Pasta with Ricotta and Mint
- Mafalda Pasta Noodles
- Ndunderi Amalfi Lemon Ricotta Gnocchi
- Fresh Fig Prosciutto Grilled Cheese Sandwich
- Gorgonzola Risotto al Radicchio
- Crispy Roast Chicken and Leek Risotto
- Sartu Di Riso Italian Baked Risotto
- Cheesy Polenta
- Involtini di Pollo
- Aperol Gin Cocktail
- Italian Prosecco and Gin Cocktail
- Amaretto Disaronno Sour
- Negroni Spritz Cocktail
How To Make Pizzoccheri alla Valtellinese (RECIPE VIDEO)
Pizzoccheri alla Valtellinese Pasta
- Kitchen Scale
- Rolling pin
- French knife
- Large pot
- Small Pan
- Casserole dish
- Slotted spoon
- 200 g Buckwheat Flour
- 50 g OO Pasta Flour
- 100 ml Water
- 200 g Savoy Cabbage torn
- 250 g Yukon Gold Potatoes cubed
- 100 g Unsalted Butter
- 2 cloves Garlic sliced
- 250 g Bitto, Valtellina Casera or Fontina Cheese shaved
- 150 g Parmigiano Reggiano shredded
- On your kitchen counter add the buckwheat flour and pasta flour. Form a nest in the center and add the water, slowly incorporating it into a dough with your hands.
- Knead the dough while ensuring the surface is well floured, for 5-7 minutes.
- Roll the dough out into a pasta sheet using a rolling pin until it is 3 mm thick. Cut the dough into strips, approximately 10 cm wide. Place the strips on top of each other then slice the strips into pasta ribbons approximately 6 mm wide. Repeat until all pasta is used.
- Preheat oven to 350 F.
- Add potato to a large pot of boiling salted water and cook for 5 minutes. Add torn cabbage and cook for an additional 5 minutes.
- Meanwhile melt butter with garlic slices until golden brown in a small pan.
- Once water is simmering, add pizzoccheri noodles, cooking for 10-12 minutes or until al dente. Strain pasta.
- In a buttered casserole dish, layer the pasta/cabbage/potato mixture with shaved Bitto, Valtellina Casera or Fontina Cheese.
- Top the casserole with grated parmesan cheese then gently pour the butter and garlic mixture over the pizzoccheri casserole.
- Add the casserole dish to the oven and bake for 5-10 minutes until the cheese has melted. Serve immediately.
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