You Have Permission Not to Follow this Pasta Recipe

February  8, 2016

There are two types of people in this world: Those who like to follow the recipe, and those who don’t. Personally, I use recipes as inspiration—I browse until I find a combination of ingredients or flavors that jumps out at me, and then I cook. Sometimes it resembles the original recipe, sometimes it doesn't.

Photo by Bobbi Lin

This buckwheat pasta will satisfy both kinds of cooks. If you don’t have the time or energy to make your own pasta on an average weeknight, that's okay—this recipe will still help you to cook many simple, delicious meals. You’ll just have to improvise a little bit.

The core flavors of this recipe are the charred cabbage, the aged provolone cheese, and the speck (a slightly smoked prosciutto from northern Italy)—challenge yourself to stray from the recipe, and you could use them to make a number of different dishes, like a risotto or a soup. In order to bring some depth to this dish, I add lemon for acidity, chile flakes for some heat, and caraway seeds as a nod to culinary traditions that northern Italy shares with neighboring Austria.

Want to follow the recipe more closely but don’t have the time to make fresh pasta? Substitute for store-bought. (You could even eliminate the pasta completely and serve a nice side dish of cabbage and speck with melted provolone.) Whether you follow the directions or not, these classic flavors will stay with you.

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Riddley Gemperlein-Schirm
    Riddley Gemperlein-Schirm
  • Smaug
Josh Cohen

Written by: Josh Cohen

Born and raised in Brooklyn, I’m perpetually inspired by the diversity of foods that exist in this city. I love shopping at the farmer’s market, making ingredients taste like the best versions of themselves, and rolling fresh pasta. I learned how to make fresh pasta in Italy, where I spent the first 6 months of my career as a chef. I've been cooking professionally in New York City since 2010.


Riddley G. February 8, 2016
This reminds me of pizzoccheri (minus the potatoes)!
Smaug February 8, 2016
I disagree with the 'two kinds of people" comment- I think a lot of us are both. If you really want to evaluate a recipe you should do it straight. On the other hand, as a home cook you're probably depending on what you make to feed people; I know very well that my tolerances for salt, animal fat and capsaicin are pretty low and I'm not going to ruin dinner for it. I would hope to have the sense not to evaluate recipes that I've changed substantively, or at least to equivocate, but I'm sure I fail at it at times. On the other hand, sometimes what you get from a recipe is just an idea or two, or a general notion of a dish (never thought of putting caraway in an Italian pasta dish- I've no intention of doing so, but that kind of thing). A lot of times, for a traditional dish that's new to me, I'll look up a bunch of recipes and make a composite.