Pasta della Valtellina Lombardy
Preparation - Medium/Difficult
This recipe originally called for Valtellina, a cheese with a unique and delicate taste that is made in the Valtellina, a valley in Lombardy overlooked by the Alps. Gouda is the best substitute for this cheese, which is now difficult to find even in Rome. This substantial dish can be served as a main course.Originally the recipe specified pizzocheri, pasta made with a mixture of white and buckwheat flour, similar to fettuccine but cut wider and very coarse.
4 medium potatoes, peeled and finely diced
1 lb Savoy cabbage, shredded
7 T unsalted butter
10 fresh sage leaves or 8 dried
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 1/2 lbs penne rigati or fettuccine, preferably fresh
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus additional cheese for serving
4 oz Gouda or Valtellina cheese, cut into small pieces
4 oz Fontina cheese, cut into small pieces
freshly ground black pepper to taste
Large pasta pot, small saucepan
BRING 7 quarts water and 3 tablespoons coarse salt to a boil in a large pasta pot. Add the potatoes and cabbage and cook for 15 minutes.
MEANWHILE put the butter, sage leaves, and garlic in a small saucepan and heat until the butter is bubbling.
REMOVE from the heat and discard the garlic.
WHEN the potatoes are almost done, add the penne rigati or fettuccine and cook until al dente (start testing fresh pasta after 2 minutes, dried after 8 minutes).
DRAIN the pasta and vegetables, reserving 2 to 3 tablespoons of their cooking water.
PUT about a third of the pasta and vegetables into a heated serving bowl.
SPRINKLE on a third of the Parmesan, then make a layer of a third each of Gouda and Fontina.
POUR over a third of the melted butter. Do not mix. Repeat this process two more times, ending with cheese and butter on top.
SPRINKLE over the reserved 2 to 3 tablespoons cooking water and serve at once with freshly grated pepper and more Parmesan.
NOTE: Leftover pasta can be put in a buttered ovenproof dish with a little cream added and browned slightly in a preheated 375 °F oven.