Some years I follow the Japanese tradition of eating long soba noodles on New Year's Eve, but tonight I am making a different kind of buckwheat noodle: short, wide pizzoccheri pasta.
The long ingredient list and many steps may be off-putting at first glance, but the pace of preparing this dish is leisurely. And the rusticity of this Italian Alp classic permits you to be inexact. The cuts don’t have to look perfect and, with the exception of the pasta ingredients, the amounts are approximate. In fact, it would detract from the dish’s charm to make it too refined. So, while you might use a pasta machine here to make the rolling of the dough a little easier, don’t sweat it if you don’t have one. I didn’t even bother breaking mine out and had no problem using a rolling pin to get the dough thin enough.
This recipe is not entirely authentic. Instead of garlic, I used lightly caramelized onions, which I think always tastes so great with cabbage. And I don’t include quite as much butter as the restaurant versions I’ve had. When I’m cooking for myself, it’s hard to stomach seeing that much fat going into the pan. Anyway, I find this dish plenty rich enough with ½ stick of butter and a decent amount of cheese.
One final thing – I sometimes use kale as a substitute for the Savoy cabbage. Its earthy flavor and bright green color work nicely here.
Preparation Time: 50 minutes, plus 30 minutes-6 hours resting time for dough
¾ cup buckwheat flour
½ cup all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 whole large egg, 3 large egg yolks
2 tablespoons milk
2 medium onions, finely sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more as needed
4 small Yukon gold potatoes, scrubbed, with skin on and cut into ¼-inch slices (about 8-10 ounces)
2 cups Savoy cabbage, leaves cut into ½-inch by 4-inch strips
¼ cup (½ stick) unsalted butter
1 tablespoon sage leaves, coarsely chopped
1 cup grated fontina cheese
½ cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
- Combine the flours in a shallow mixing bowl. In a small bowl, gently beat eggs, milk, and pinch of salt together. Create a well in the middle of flour and pour egg mixture into well. Using your finger, gradually incorporate flour into egg mixture. Knead dough gently until it is smooth and well-formed. The dough will be just slightly tacky to the touch. If it is too sticky, dust dough with additional flour. Wrap the dough in plastic and allow to rest at room temperature for 30 minutes, or in the refrigerator for up to 6 hours.
- Heat a wide, shallow pan over medium-high heat. Add olive oil. When oil is hot, add onion slices and a large pinch of salt. Stir to coat onions in oil. Once the onions have softened and shrunken slightly, reduce heat to low. Cook for another 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onions are caramelized. Turn off heat and set aside.
- While onions are cooking, bring a large stockpot of water to a boil. Cook potatoes until they are tender throughout, about 7 minutes. With a spider or slotted spoon, transfer cooked potatoes to pan with onions, reserving cooking water in stockpot.
- Return water to a boil and cook cabbage until tender, about 5 minutes. Transfer cabbage to pan with potatoes and onions. Return cooking water to a boil.
- Dust a clean surface lightly with flour and roll out pasta dough with a rolling pin as thinly as possible, less than 1/8-inch thick. Cut dough into ½-inch by 4-inch strips. Drop the strips into the boiling water in two batches. Cook for 3-5 minutes, until pasta floats and is just tender. Toss pasta in with cooked vegetables.
- Over medium heat, melt butter in a small saucepan. When butter begins to foam, add sage and allow butter to brown lightly. Remove from heat.
- Place about ¼ of tossed pasta and vegetables in the bottom of a warm serving platter. Drizzle in a small amount of sage brown butter. Sprinkle cheeses on top. Continue adding the components of the dish in layers: pasta/vegetables, sage butter, and cheese.
- Grind black pepper over the dish and garnish with parsley. Serve immediately.