Homemade Chestnut Pasta with Pork and Cabbage Recipe from Val d’Aosta.
A traditional autumn/winter dish from the Italian mountains, this homemade chestnut pasta with pork and cabbage is a delicious and easy-to make-recipe. Like similar dishes from the Italian Alps, this rustic pasta dish is hearty, filling and made with seasonal ingredients.
Pasta di castagne con verza e costine.
Homemade chestnut pasta with pork and cabbage comes from a beautiful mountain region in Northern Italy. The Val d’Aosta or Aosta Valley is located in the top north west corner of Italy. It borders with France and Switzerland and is the smallest and least densely populated of the Italian regions.
Because of the mostly mountainous terrain and colder climate, the food in the Val d’Aosta is based on hearty soups and filling meat dishes as well as their famous cheese and dairy products. You can read more about this region in my Aosta Valley post.
Chestnut pasta with pork and cabbage is a typical autumn/winter dish made with homemade pasta, pork ribs and Savoy cabbage. Since the pasta is homemade, this recipe takes a little longer to prepare but it’s not difficult. You can, of course, use a different pasta or buy ready-made chestnut pasta.
Chestnuts in the Italian kitchen.
Chestnuts are grown throughout Italy. They are picked in the autumn and it’s very common to see street vendors selling roasted chestnuts at this time of the year. In the past, chestnuts were a staple for the poor. They are rich in starches and carbohydrates and are the only nuts that contain vitamin C!
There are a lot of Italian recipes for chestnuts, including soups, risotto, meat dishes and a ton of cakes and other desserts, as well as marron glace. Chestnut flour is naturally a bit sweet and, of course, nutty! Italians have been making it for centuries! It’s gluten free and is used to make cakes, crepes, polenta, gnocchi and pasta (like this homemade chestnut pasta!)
How to make chestnut pasta.
The homemade chestnut pasta in this recipe contains a mix of chestnut flour and Italian ‘00’ flour. However, you can also use all-purpose flour instead. This is an egg pasta so it contains eggs! Some traditional Italian chestnut pasta has just water instead. An example of this is ‘lasagne bastarde’ from Tuscany, which is on my to make list!
Is chestnut pasta gluten free?
Traditionally, chestnut pasta isn’t gluten free because it’s made with a mix of chestnut and wheat flours. However, you can make this homemade chestnut pasta with any gluten free pasta flour instead of the wheat flour, such as rice flour, or just with chestnut flour, which is gluten free.
Making this chestnut pasta.
This recipe is traditionally served with tagliatelle or fettucine. Both are types of egg ribbon pasta. Tagliatelle is slightly wider than fettuccine although there’s often little difference between them.
The recipe I followed comes from my favourite Italian cookbook ‘ La Cucina, the Regional Cooking of Italy’. It is published by the Italian Academy of Cuisine (L’Accademia della Cucina Italiana). This recipe calls for fettucine. But, actually, my homemade chestnut pasta is more like tagliatelle.
To make the pasta for this chestnut pasta with pork and cabbage recipe you need to make a dough out of the eggs and flours as you would for homemade lasagne sheets. Then, just roll the dough out into rectangular sheets, roll them up and cut into ribbons. You can make them a bit wider like mine or narrower. However, the thinner they are, the faster they’ll cook. So, keep that in mind when boiling them.
Making the pork and cabbage sauce.
There are varying versions of this typical Val d’Aosta dish. The recipe I followed involved baking the sauce in the oven. I really liked doing it this way as I think it’s healthier than frying everything. The pork ribs, carrots, onion and celery are cooked in the oven with wine and vegetable broth until the pork meat is literally falling off the bone.
The cabbage needs to be blanched first. Then you chop it and add it to the pork and other veg after removing most the meat from the bones. I kept a few pork ribs intact but that’s a question of choice.
You can also cook the sauce in a skillet or Dutch oven on the stove top. To do this, heat olive oil in a skillet. Add the pork ribs and brown on each side. Then, transfer the ribs to a plate and add the chopped onion, carrot, and celery to the skillet. Cook until they soften slightly. Add the white wine and scrape the pork bits up from the bottom of the pan. Finally pour in the vegetable broth and browned ribs. Cover the skillet and simmer for 1.5 or at least until the pork meat is falling off the bone.
Pin for later!
Whichever way you make this sauce, I’m sure you’ll enjoy it. Unlike pasta sauces in the south, many Italian mountain pasta recipes are a combination of pasta and larger pieces of meat and or veg. They are more rustic, chunkier and heartier.
Don’t forget to pin for later!
This recipe for pizzoccheri alla Valtellinese from the Alps in Lombardy is similar. The pasta is made from buckwheat and the condiment is potatoes, Savoy cabbage and cheese.
If you make this homemade chestnut pasta recipe, I’d love to hear how it turns out and if you liked it. Please leave a comment here on the blog or on The Pasta Project Facebook page.
Looking forward to hearing from you!
Other recipes from Val d’Aosta.
Homemade Chestnut Pasta with Pork and Cabbage.
For the pasta
- 150 g chestnut flour (5.3oz)
- 100 g Italian '00' flour (3.5oz) or all-purpose flour
- 2 eggs
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 pinch salt
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil.
For the pork and cabbage
- 700 g pork ribs (1.5lbs) cut into pieces
- 1 onion peeled and finely chopped
- 2 carrots washed and finely chopped
- 2 celery stalks washed and finely chopped
- 1 small Savoy cabbage washed and cut into large pieces
- 1/2 glass white wine
- 1.5 cups vegetable broth
- salt to taste and for cooking pasta
- freshly ground black pepper. to taste
Make the pasta
- Mix the flours and salt in a bowl until combined thoroughly. Then pour into your stand mixer bowl or mound onto a pastry/pasta board.
Making pasta dough by hand
- Create a well in the middle of the flour and add the 2 eggs, 1 egg yolk, and the olive oil. Whisk the eggs and oil together, then slowly start mixing in the flour from the outside to the inside using a fork. Once everything is well mixed use your hands to knead the dough for about 10 minutes until it’s supple and elastic.
Making pasta dough with a stand mixer
- If using a stand mixer add the eggs and olive oil to the flour already in the bowl and mix everything together for a minute using the flat beater. Add a little water if the dough seems dry, but it shouldn’t be. then with the dough hook knead for 2-3 minutes. Finally turn the dough out onto a pastry/pasta board and finish kneading by hand. (I often make pasta this way!)
Continue making the pasta
- Roll the dough into a ball. Cover with plastic wrap ora tea towel and let it rest for 20-30 minutes. (you can start on the pork and cabbage while the pasta dough is resting)
- Divide the pasta dough into 3-4 pieces. Make thin sheets of pasta by feeding each piece of dough through a pasta roller on progressively thinner settings until you reach the desired thickness. You can also just roll the dough pieces out by hand on your pastry board.
- Once you have pasta sheets like lasagne. Roll each one up and then start from one end and cut ‘ribbons’ that are 5mm (fettuccine) to10mm (tagliatelle) in width. Place your homemade chestnut pasta ribbons on a tray lined with a floured tea towel or baking paper until ready to cook them. Cooking times will depend on the size of your homemade chestnut pasta.
Making the pork and cabbage
- Peel the onion and chop finely. Wash the carrots ancelery and chop finely. Dissolve stock cube/granules in 1.5 cups of hot water (if not using homemade vegetable stock).
- Place the pork ribs, onions, carrots and celery in an oven proof dish. Add the wine and vegetable stock, plus salt and pepper to taste and cover. Cook in a preheated oven at 180°c for about 1.5 hours or until the meat is falling off the bone. Check occasionally to make sure it's not drying out. Add more stock or a little water if necessary.
- Cut the cabbage into large pieces and blanch in boiling salted water. Drain and chop into smaller pieces. (You can save the water to cook the pasta in)
- When the pork is ready, remove the meat from the bones and mix in the blanched cabbage. (I kept some pork ribs intact).
Finish and serve
- Put a pot of water on to boil for the pasta (You can also use the water you blanched the cabbage in). Add salt and bring to the boil again. Cook the pasta until it is al dente. This won’t take long as fresh pasta cooks quickly. Drain the pasta and add it to the pork and cabbage. Mix well and serve immediately.
Want to know more about my life in Italy? Go to the homepage and subscribe to my newsletter. New subscribers get a free recipe e-book series too! https://www.the-pasta-project.com