The classic Lombardian peasant dish is made with buckwheat pasta. In Marc Vetri's version, easy-to-find whole wheat penne stands in for the buckwheat, but the sauce is just as rustic and garlicky as the original.
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12 ounces whole wheat penne
3/4 pound green cabbage, chopped
1 large Yukon Gold potato (3/4 pound), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon chopped rosemary
1/2 teaspoon chopped thyme
Salt and freshly ground pepper
4 ounces Italian Fontina cheese, shredded (1 cup)
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus more for serving
How to Make It
In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the pasta until al dente. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the cooking water.
Fill the pasta pot with 1 inch of water. Spread the cabbage in a steamer basket set over the pasta pot and top with the potato. Steam the vegetables until very tender, stirring once or twice, about 10 minutes. Pour off the water and wipe out the pot.
In the same pot, melt the butter in the olive oil. Add the garlic and cook over moderately high heat, stirring, until lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Add the cabbage and potato along with the rosemary and thyme and season with salt and pepper. Cook until slightly dry, about 2 minutes. Add the pasta with its cooking water and cook, stirring and breaking up the potato, until the sauce is creamy and thick, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the Fontina and the 1/4 cup of Parmigiano. Transfer the pasta to bowls and serve, passing extra grated cheese at the table.
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