Pizzoccheri, an Italian classic
I am sure all countries have dishes that are hidden gems, foods you will not hear about or not order if no one tells you about them. I am sure everyone knows how delicious Italian food is, the delight of a just cooked carbonara spinkled with chopped parsley, pasta vongole, tucking in to the seafood with the smooth pasta or the pure joy of a thin, perfectly, wood oven cooked margarita pizza, maybe with just a sprinkle of extra garlic just to mention a few.
Going to an Italian restaurant with friends someone odered a dish I had never heard of before, Pizzoccheri. I had a look at the menu and opted for another dish, the combination is pasta, potatoes and cabbage.
When the dishes came out I couldn’t resist tasting my friends dish and I was hit by instant food envy! My goodness it was heaven on a plate! Before the dish came out I did think more along the lines of carb on a plate. It is carb on a plate but who cares when it tastes this good?!
I have never seen the dish on any menu before or after the flavours stayed with me. It is not the best looking dish in the world but in it’s simplicity it is not just a delight to eat but also quick to make and very cheap. I didn’t have buckwheat pasta, or the, for this dish, traditionally shaped pasta but I wouldn’t let that stop me and as it was pouring down with rain I wasn’t going outside again. It might not have been buckwheat pasta but it is the prettiest pasta I have ever had.
I found this recipe on Kitchen.com that I used as a base and here is my version.
preparation time 10 minutes
cooking time 25 minutes
- 4 medium sized potatoes
- 1/2 head of a large sweetheart cabbage
- 8 Brussels sprouts
- 4 dl or 2 cups of pasta
- 1 knob of butter
- pasta water
- 1 1/2 dl or 3/4 cup grated parmigiano reggiano
- 1 red chilli, sliced fine
- olive oil
- salt & pepper to taste
Peel and cut the potatoes in to chunks. Place in salted water and bring to a boil. Let them boil for about 10 minutes or until just cooked through. Remove the potatoes from the water and place the pasta in the water and boil until just cooked through.
Whilst that is cooking chop the cabbage and get the leafs off the Brussels sprouts. When the pasta has abut 4 minutes left to cook heat olive oil in a pan and add the cabbage when hot. Stir the pan and add a little pasta water to get the steaming going. Add the pasta, keep the pasta water on the side and add more as you cook. Add the butter, as much or little as you like, and cook until the pasta cooking water and butter comes together. Last add the potatoes, the grated cheese and the Brussels sprout leaves. Taste with salt and pepper before serving and sprinkle with chilli.
It was so tempting to add something more, peas, sweetcorn, some parma ham, anythign really but the flavours together are so great I don’t think it needs anything more. The dish is very hearty but still surprisingly light. This will be my to go dish on any weeknight!