buckwheat penne with cabbage, potatoes & taleggio

Buckwheat penne with potato & taleggio
Buckwheat penne with potato & taleggio

On a recent trip to the supermarket I came across buckwheat pasta, which got me thinking about a fantastic winter dish I first tried back in the days when, as an Italian teacher, I organised a yearly exchange visit to Lake Como in Italy. The lady who dealt with the Italian side of the exchange was a truly inspirational teacher and a lovely host, who – luckily for me – was always eager to share her knowledge of the local cuisine. Pizzoccheri alla valtellinese, which this recipe is based on, was just one of the many delicious dishes she introduced me to in that beautiful corner of Italy.

Pizzoccheri is the name of the strips of buckwheat pasta traditionally used in pizzoccheri alla valtellinese, but since you might struggle to find this ingredient outside Italy, I’ve gone for buckwheat penne instead. The addition of taleggio is also not entirely authentic but I’ve included it because Valtellina Casera, one of the cheeses used in the classic version of the dish, isn’t widely available in this country either. I’m sure you’ll agree that, with its oozy melting properties and mellow flavour, taleggio is a tasty substitute. The wholesome pasta and tangy mountain cheese marry perfectly with the other¬†ingredients in the recipe, which include potatoes, savoy cabbage and sage.

Both vegetarian and gluten-free, this meal is a great all-rounder. For a meaty variation, try scattering over some fried pancetta cubes before you put the dish in the oven.

Print recipe
Buckwheat penne with cabbage, potatoes & taleggio
Instructions
  1. Heat the oven to 180C/Gas 6.
  2. Bring a large saucepan of salted water and to the boil. Add the potatoes and cabbage and simmer for 5 minutes.
  3. Add the penne to the saucepan and simmer for the amount of time indicated on the packet (usually 10-12 minutes). Then drain and set aside.
  4. Heat the butter in a frying pan over a medium heat. Once the butter is hot, add the garlic and sage and fry for 2-3 minutes until the garlic is just starting to turn golden. Then remove from the heat.
  5. In an ovenproof dish, alternate layers of the hot pasta mixture with sprinklings of taleggio and Parmesan/Grana Padano.
  6. Pour over the sage and garlic butter. Place the dish in the oven and bake for 3-4 minutes.
  7. Spoon onto plates.
Recipe Notes

If you don't have any fresh sage leaves, you can use dried sage instead. This can be added to the garlic butter just before you pour it over the pasta mixture.

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