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Pizzoccheri: Bormio’s Answer to Pasta

Culinary heritage. If there is one dish which represents Bormio, it is pizzoccheri. Made to a simple recipe with the handful of traditional local ingredients, these delicious buckwheat pasta are served with plenty of cheese and butter (otherwise they are not true pizzoccheri).

Farming used to be really tough here. The high altitude and the freezing temperatures of the long winters would not allow it. The people of Bormio ate a limited diet: meat and cheese from their animals, plus the few vegetables that could be grown during the mild summers.

But buckwheat grew well in the whole of the Valtellina and most importantly it was readily available for the inhabitants of the valley. Some local farmers even began to produce it themselves! And so thanks to its availability and farming, it became the basis for our culinary traditions.

Initially, pizzoccheri was a much simpler dish. The strong, rustic buckwheat flour was used to make a tagliatelle-style pasta, to which they would add lashings of butter and local cheese. After all, farming was very hard graft in those days!

Today, pizzoccheri are even richer but are still made using the same traditional Valtellina ingredients. These include additions of potatoes, cabbage, garlic and sage. And not forgetting the lashings of butter and local cheese!

As you can see, pizzoccheri are more than just another type of pasta. They make for a delicious meal, each forkful containing a little bit of our history and culture.

Here is a traditional recipe for Valtellina pizzoccheri

Pizzoccheri recipe:

Ingredients

(for 4 people)

  • 400 g of buckwheat flour
  • 100 g plain flour
  • 200 g of butter
  • 250 g of Valtellina Casera DOP cheese
  • 150 g of grated Parmesan cheese
  • 200 g of cabbage (preferably Savoy cabbage)
  • 250 g potatoes
  • one clove of garlic
  • pepper

Method

Mix the two types of flour together, add water to form a paste and knead for 5 minutes.

Use a rolling pin to roll out the dough to a thickness of 2-3 mm and then cut it into long strips around 7-8 cm wide. Lay the strips on top of each other and then cut across them, to get short slices of pasta around 5 mm wide.

Cook the shredded cabbage and diced potatoes in lightly salted water, add the pizzoccheri after five minutes (potatoes should always be included while cabbage can be replaced, depending on the season, with chard or green beans).

After 10 minutes, remove the pizzoccheri with a slotted spoon and put some of them into a heated baking tray, sprinkle with the grated Parmesan cheese and shavings of Valtellina Casera DOP cheese, then continue adding more pizzoccheri and cheese in alternating layers.

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