Buckwheat Pasta with Charred Cabbage, Speck, and Provolone

By • January 18, 2016 0 Comments

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Author Notes: This hearty winter dish is inspired by Alto Adige, a region in Northern Italy that shares a culinary history with Austria (hence the cabbage and caraway). A few things to keep in mind:
1. Do not be intimidated by making fresh buckwheat pasta. You can do it! (If you can’t do it and/or don’t feel like it, you can buy dried whole wheat pasta. But, you should really try.)
2. Buy the good provolone. Don’t buy the pre-sliced stuff. Get the aged, sharp provolone, and tell your local retailer not to slice it thin on the deli slicer. You’ll want a block that you can grate at home on the box grater.
3. If you don’t like spicy food, don’t use the chile. It you want a lighter version of this dish, use less cheese and an extra squeeze of lemon. Feel free to alter this recipe as you see fit.
Josh Cohen

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Serves 4

  • 1 cup buckwheat flour
  • 1/2 cup Italian OO flour (or substitute all-purpose flour), plus extra for rolling
  • 3 whole eggs, plus 1 extra yolk
  • 1/2 head savoy cabbage
  • Grapeseed oil (or substitute canola or vegetable oil)
  • 1 tablespoon caraway seeds, lightly crushed in a mortar and pestle or spice grinder
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • Juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • Salt
  • 1 cup semolina flour, to be used for rolling
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon chile flakes
  • 1/2 pound aged provolone
  • 1/8 pound speck, cut into thin strips
  1. Add the two types of flour to a large mixing bowl, and whisk to combine. Form a well in the center of the flour. Make the flour look like a volcano. Add the eggs and extra yolk to the center of the flour volcano. Using a fork, beat the eggs in the center of the flour, and gradually incorporate more flour from the periphery. When about two thirds of the flour has been incorporated into the eggs, I like to use my bare hands to push the remaining flour into the wet dough mixture and form a ball of dough. You can also just keep using the fork.
  2. Remove the wet dough ball from the mixing bowl and place it on a good kneading surface (a table, counter, cutting board, whatever works). Wash your hands. You don’t want stray clumps of dry crumbly dough getting incorporated into your nice dough. Set yourself up with a small bowl of extra OO flour to be used as bench flour. Knead the dough for approximately 10 minutes. The better you knead the dough now, the easier it will be to roll it out later. If the dough feels too tacky and sticks to your hands, liberally dust it with bench flour. (Don’t worry if you need to repeatedly add extra bench flour.) After 10 minutes of kneading, the dough should feel smooth and pliable. Wrap it in plastic wrap and let it rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.
  3. While the dough is resting, turn your attention to the savoy cabbage. Remove the core, and cut the cabbage into 1 inch squares. Set a large skillet over high heat, and add just enough grapeseed oil to cover the bottom of the skillet. When the oil begins to lightly smoke, add the cabbage. Watch out, it might splatter. You want to cook the cabbage in a single, even layer, so you will likely have to cook the cabbage in batches. Toss the cabbage in the skillet. When it is wilted and slightly charred, after approximately 2 minutes, remove it from the pan. When all of the cabbage is cooked, season it with the crushed caraway seeds, lemon zest, lemon juice, and salt to taste. Set the cabbage aside.
  4. Roll out your pasta: Depending on how much room you have to work with, you should probably divide the dough into two or three balls, and work in batches, rolling out one ball at a time and keeping the rest of the dough covered in plastic wrap. Set your pasta roller to the widest setting, and pass the dough through. If it feels tacky, sprinkle it with semolina flour. Fold the dough over on itself in half, and pass it through the widest setting again. Repeat this step until the dough looks smooth and is shaped like a rectangle. Adjust the pasta roller so that it is one notch thinner, and pass the dough through. Continue passing the dough on incrementally smaller settings. When you have passed the dough through the second-thinnest setting, you're done. Using a pasta cutter, cut the dough into 1 inch squares the shape of a handkerchief. Dust a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet with semolina flour, and transfer the handkerchief pasta to the baking sheet. Top with extra semolina so that it doesn’t stick to itself. You can make the pasta ahead of time and store it in the freezer.
  5. Set a large pot of water over high heat and bring the water to a boil. While you are waiting for the water to boil, set a large skillet over medium heat. Add the butter. When it is melted, add the garlic and the chili flakes. Cook until the garlic just begins to brown. Turn off the heat.
  6. When the water is boiling, add salt so that the water tastes like the ocean. Add the pasta and cook until it floats to the surface, approximately 1 to 2 minutes. Drain the pasta, reserving 1/4 cup of pasta water. Add the cooked pasta and the reserved pasta water to the skillet with the garlic and butter, and set the heat to high. Add the cabbage and cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid in the pan is bubbling and steaming. Reduce the heat to medium, and add the provolone. Toss the pasta with the cheese. The cheese should melt and begin to form a creamy sauce for the pasta. Add the speck, and continue to toss the pasta. When the cheese is fully melted, taste the pasta. Adjust with salt or lemon juice as necessary. Serve it up.

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Topics: Fall, Italian Cooking, Pasta, Winter