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Gourmet Pastas and Sauces on-line

a tavola - the cuisine of valle d' aosta
(return to food)

The Val d' Aosta is found between Piemonte and France. The recipes which follow are rich in dairy products and definitely designed for heating one up in cold, mountain weather. For many years we had a maid from this region so we had the privilege of tasting most of the recipes presented here. They are all delicious.

more val d'aosta...
* Seasons Change
* Valdostan Cuisine
* What do you know about Val d'Aosta?
* Aosta region
* More ...


Antipasto is not traditionally a course eaten in the Valled'Aosta but the recipe below would make a good one or it could be served as a second course.

Frittata con il Salame - Salami Frittata

6 eggs
2 medium onions, sliced and rings broken up
A small (2-3 ounce, 50-75 gram) cooked or raw salami
1/4 cup unsalted butter or olive oil
Salt & pepper to taste

Heat the oil in a skillet, and saut� the onion rings; when they have softened and begun to wilt, crumble or dice the salami into the pan, and continue to cook for about 10 minutes more, stirring and setting the heat so the onion doesn't burn. Beat the eggs in a bowl, pour them into the skillet, and let the mixture cook without stirring until the top begins to firm up. Then flip the frittata onto a large plate and slide it back into the pan to brown the other side . Cook a few minutes more, then slip the frittata onto a sheet of absorbent paper, cut it into small wedges (this is an antipasto), lay them on a serving platter, and serve.

Serves 4.



Crema di Zucca con Fontina - Creamy Squash Soup with Fontina

2 1/4 pounds yellow squash like Butternut
Some stale rye bread
1/2 pound Fontina
1 quart milk
2 cloves

Boil the squash until it is tender. Then peel and dice it. Heat the milk with a pinch of salt and the cloves. When the squash is done, put it through a food mill into the milk, and simmer the mixture for 10 minutes more. While it's simmering, crumble the bread into the bowls. Dice or finely slice the cheese and lay it over the bread. Ladle the hot soup into the bowls and serve at once, with more bread, which has been toasted, on the side.

Serves 4.


Gnocchi di Patata alla Bava - Stringy Potato Gnocchi

1 pound mealy potatoes
About 1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup milk
2/3 pound fontina
1/2 cup unsalted butter
Salt, and freshly grated nutmeg

Boil the potatoes in their skins in lightly salted water until they are soft when you pierce them with a fork. Peel and mash them. When the potatoes have cooled enough to be workable, knead enough flour into it to obtain a dough that's soft, but doesn't stick to your hands. Roll the dough out into finger-thick snakes and cut them into one-inch lengths, making a dimple in each with the ball of your thumb while pressing against the backs of the gnocchi with the tines of a fork to give the gnocchi their traditional shape. Put the gnocchi on a floured cloth and let them dry for a couple of hours.

Meanwhile, dice or slice the fontina and heat it over a low flame with the milk, stirring gently, until it has melted. Season the cream with a pinch of nutmeg and a grind of the peppermill. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil, add the gnocchi, and skim them off the top with a strainer as soon as they rise to the surface, transferring them to a bowl. Carefully stir most of the sauce into the gnocchi, then ladle them into bowls, and spoon the remaining sauce over them. As a variation, you can brown your gnocchi: Layer them in an oven at 350F, with thin slices of fontina and dots of butter between the layers (this gets very cheesy), and brown them in a hot oven for about 5 minutes.

Serves 4.


Pizzocheri are long buckwheat pasta noodles about fettucine size but shorter.

1 lb pizzoccheri della Valtellina
1 T salt
3 - 4 medium potatoes, cut into small cubes
1 small head savoy cabbage cut roughly into strips 1/2 in by 2 1/2 in
2 T unsalted butter
2 T olive oil
1 garlic clove, sliced
6 fresh sage or 1/2 T dried leaves, chopped
1 leek, chopped
freshly ground pepper to taste
1/2 - 2/3 c grated parmigiano
1/4 -1/3 lb fontina Valle d'Aosta

Start the pasta water boiling. Wash,Peel if you must, then cube the potatoes. Wash the cabbage and cut into strips. Cut the cheese into thin slivers. When the water is boiling seriously, dump in the potatoes and salt, cover, return to a boil, and continue uncovered for about 4 minutes. Add the cabbage, cover and bring to a boil again, then continue uncovered for 5 minutes. Add the pizzoccheri, cover and bring to a boil again and cook 8 - 12 minutes until the pasta is not quite al dente. Meanwhile saute the leek and sage in butter and oil until softened up a bit. When the pasta is ready, drain briefly but don't shake out the liquid. Return the pasta to its pot and mix in the saute mixture, parmigiano, salt and pepper. Put half the mixture in a large enough casserole dish (or a large one and a small one) and cover with half the fontina slivers. Repeat. Put on the top rack of a 400� F preheated oven for 5 minutes to melt the cheese. Then remove and let sit a couple minutes and serve.

Serves 4 or 5.


Polenta Grassa - Rich Polenta

1 pound coarse grained corn meal
A quart of whole milk
A toma cheese weighing 1/2 pound or more (depending upon how rich you want it; a brie might work well as a substitute)
about 1/2 cup of diced clarified butter melted
coarse marine salt

Combine the milk with a quart of water in a pot, bring it to a boil, salt it with a good pinch of salt then stir in the corn meal, being quick to avoid the formation of lumps. Stir in the clarified butter and continue to cook the polenta over a medium flame, stirring all the while, until it begins to pull away from the sides of the pot (this will take an hour or more). Stir in the diced cheese, and if you want even more cheese, some grated Parmigiano. Serve a salad afterwards to refresh the palette.

Serves 4.


Excellent for a cold night in a mountain cabin. Just across the border in Switzerland, they soak their bread in kirsch before dipping into the fondue. Gentlemen who lose their bread in the cheese must buy the ladies a bottle of wine. Ladies who lose theirs, give up a kiss.

300 g of Fontina cheese
50 g of butter
4 egg yolks
bread cubes, toasted
salt and pepper

Cut the Fontina into cubes and place in a bowl filled with milk. Leave it in the refrigerator overnight. In a double-boiler, melt the butter with the milk and Fontina, stirring carefully until the cheese is entirely melted. Remove from the stove, mix in the 4 egg yolks, and add salt and pepper copiously. Return to a steady flame, still in the double-boiler, stirring to keep the fonduta from boiling. When the mixture is uniformly thick, serve in a fondue dish accompanied by cubes of bread toasted .

Serves 4.

Capriolo in Umido - Venison Stew
Serve over rice.

1 kg of venison or beef
olive oil
50 g of bacon
red wine
salt and pepper
laurel leaves

For the marinade:
1 liter of red wine

Mix the ingredients for the marinade together and add the venison, covered by the liquid. Let marinade for 24 hours. When you're ready to begin cooking, gently fry the bacon together with a little olive oil and butter, then add the meat in pieces, drained of the marinade, and brown. Add salt and pepper, sprinkle with the wine and a little later add a few tablespoons of broth with a few laurel leaves. Boil slowly for about two hours, adding broth as necessary.

Serves 4.


Insalata di Verdure al Fromazdo -- Salad with Fromazdo Cheese
In much of Italy salads are simply dressed, with oil and vinegar, which is at the most balsamic, salt, and no pepper. In Val D'Aosta things are a little different, because it's too far north for olive trees to grow, and before railroads simplified travel few had the luxury of using olive oil -- it was an imported good from either Liguria, Provence or Lago Maggiore. Instead they used walnut oil, and a variety of dairy and cheese mixtures that Americans and northern Europeans may find more normal than would most of the people living elsewhere in Italy. Fromazdo is a cheese being brought back from the pale of oblivion: it's primarily cow's milk though some sheep's milk can be used, and can be either low in fat or moderately rich. It's firm bodied.

A small head of lettuce or the salad greens of choice
4 carrots
6 radishes
2 spring onions or leeks
A bunch of basil or the fresh aromatic herb of choice
1/2 pound low-in-fat fromazdo
An egg yolk, hard boiled
The juice of a lemon with a pinch of salt
1/3 cup fresh cream

Wash the greens and vegetables. Shred the leafy vegetables, julienne the carrots, cut the onions into rounds, shred the herbs, and crumble the yolk and the cheese. Combine everything in a bowl, sprinkle the salted lemon juice over it, then add the cream and serve.

Serves 4.


Fiadone is the equivalent of a cheese torte. It is neither a cheesecake nor a cheese pie but somewhere in between the two. In the traditional Italian style it is only slightly sweet. It is, however, very rich, and should be served in thin slices. Only the finest fresh whole milk ricotta should be used in this recipe.

1 1/2 cups flour
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. anise seed
2 eggs
1/2 cup butter melted and cooled

Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour the pan. Sift together the flour, sugar, and baking powder. Add the anise seed. Beat the eggs lightly, add butter, then add this mixture to the flour and work into a soft dough, keeping an additional 1/4 cup flour ready to add as necessary. The consistency will be that of a soft cookie dough. Add only enough additional flour to keep from sticking. Chill until ready to bake the pie.

2 lbs. fresh whole milk ricotta
1/4 lb. citron
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
2 eggs, lightly beaten

Glaze Egg wash made with the yolk of an egg yolk and a Tblsp. water Mix filling ingredients in the order given. Roll out dough 1/8" thick. Place in pie pan and cut off excess. Flute edges. Reroll the trimmings to make the lattice top. Pour in the filling, cut six lattice strips about 3/4" wide and place three in each directions over the top. Brush with the egg wash and bake at 350F for one hour until set. Cool completely before cutting. Makes one 10" pie.

Caffe' Valdostano
This coffee is a comfort in the cold Alpine mountains. It is served in a wooden bowl called a grolla, a classic symbol of the Valle d' Aosta region.

4 cups of espresso
3 cups red wine
4 shot glasses of grappa
1/4 cup sugar
4 strips lemon peel
4 strips orange peel

Heat ingredients in a pot on the stove, and when they are very hot, pour them into the grolla and serve. Otherwise, serve in an earthenware coffee cup.

Six to eight demitasse servings.


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