Penne Pasta alla Valdostana, recipe from the Aosta Valley.
This creamy cheesy pasta alla Valdostana recipe comes from the Aosta Valley in Northern Italy. This region is famous for its cheese, especially Fontina. Most ‘alla Valdostana’ recipes are made with Fontina, which is a super melting cheese used in many dishes including Italian fondue.
When you see a menu item described as ‘alla valdostana’ in Italy, chances are it’s going to include Fontina cheese and very often ham or mushrooms. Fontina has been made in the Aosta Valley since the 12th century and is traditionally produced with unpasteurized cow’s milk from a single milking. This cheese has a high fat content because it’s usually made with milk from cows which are grazing on flower-filled mountain pastures during the summer! But that’s what makes it melt so well.
Italians use Fontina for their fondue, which they call ‘fonduta’. Although Italian fonduta also contains butter and cream, which are not usually added to Swiss fondue. So this pasta alla Valdostana recipe is really pasta in cheese fondue with ham and it is totally divine!
Other alla Valdostana dishes.
Apart from pasta, there are many dishes called ‘alla Valdostana’. These include chicken breast, veal scallops, steak, risotto and crespelle (Italian crepes). Recipes with chicken or meat usually also contain ham. A bit like the French cordon bleu! So we could also call this dish pasta cordon bleu!!
Of course, it’s best to use Fontina cheese but if you can’t find it, Gruyère, provolone, Gouda, or Emmental should work well instead. Italian Fontina has a gentle buttery, nutty flavor and is slightly more pungent than Fontina made in the U.S., France, or other regions of Italy. But, wherever it comes from it’s usually a fabulous melting cheese.
A very quick and simple pasta recipe.
This recipe is super simple to make and has only a few ingredients. It can be ready in 30 minutes. While you boil the water and cook the pasta, just melt some butter in a frying pan or skillet and add the cheese and cream. Once the cheese has melted add small pieces of ham! Drain the pasta add it to the sauce. A little pepper and if you like it, nutmeg, and your dish is ready.
I sometimes serve it immediately or I bake it with some grated Parmesan on top. Both ways are delicious and baking is a fab way to use up leftovers! I made this recipe with penne but of course most types of short pasta would work well, so you can also use rigatoni, elicoidale, radiatori or farfalle to name a few!
If you give this pasta alla valdostana recipe a try do let me know how it turns out, either by commenting below or on the Pasta Project Facebook page. And if you feel it’s worth sharing with friends please do.
All your feedback and support is much appreciated!
This recipe was originally published in 2018 but has been updated with new text and photos.
DO YOU LIKE PENNE PASTA? READ MORE ABOUT THIS PASTA AND CHECK OUT THIS RECIPE TOO.
OR TRY OUT THIS OTHER DELISH FONTINA RECIPE FROM THE AOSTA VALLEY!
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Penne Pasta alla Valdostana
- 320 g pasta (11oz) I used penne rigate
- 250 g Fontina cheese (9oz)
- 200 g cooked ham (7oz) cut into small pieces
- 30 g butter (1oz) unsalted
- 30 g Parmigiano Reggiano grated
- 200 ml fresh cream (7floz)
- salt for pasta and to taste
- freshly ground black pepper. to taste
- Put a pan of water on to boil for the pasta and, as soon as it boils, add salt and bring to the boil again. Cook the pasta a little less than al dente according to the instructions on the packet.
- Meanwhile, prepare the sauce. Slowly melt the butter In a frying pan or skillet and then add the pieces of fontina.
- Add the cream and stir until the cheese melts.
- Cut the ham into thin strips or small cubes
- Add the ham to the pan with the fontina and cream and stir. Add salt and pepper, stir again and then turn off the heat.
- Drain the pasta and add it to the pan where the sauce is prepared. Mix everything together well for a few seconds over a high heat .
- Serve immediately with grated Parmigiano as required or transfer to a buttered oven dish, sprinkle with Parmesan and a few pieces of butter and bake in a preheated oven at 180°c until the top starts to crisp.
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