It wasn’t exactly a con job, but I did end up spending way too much for the fontina cheese at the local cheesemonger. The man was describing some heavenly stuff that he had just gotten in and I simply got mesmerized. It smelled wonderful and complex and agreed to a 1/2 pound before I even thought about asking the price. When the total came in over $10 I realized I had surpassed my intentions. My original goal was to sprinkle it over some broccoli...and that’s it. That’s an expensive side dish. Cheese this good needed a higher lot in life.
The fiancée actually remembered this recipe out of the well-worn Top One Hundred Pasta Sauces. She claims we had this dish before, and she’s usually right. But we definitely didn’t have it with fontina this good. The level of nutty, earthiness is incredible considering how little cheese is actually used. All the rest is vegetable goodness, and the zucchini, especially, adds some wonderful sweetness. It’s just another potato and pasta recipe that sounds illogical, and yet creates a dish like this one. The recipe's name translates simply as "Pasta with Green Vegetables," but it sounds so much better in Italian.
- 1 pound ziti or penne
- 3 medium potatoes, skins removed and cubed in 1 inch pieces
- 1/2 pound broccoli, stems removed and cut into florets
- 2 large zucchinis, cut into 1 inch pieces
- 1 pound spinach leaves
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 1 cup fontina, grated
Preheat the oven to 425°F.
Bring a large pan of water to boil. Add the potatoes and cook for 10 minutes. Then add the broccoli, zucchini, and the spinach. Cook for a few minutes. Toss in the pasta and cook until the pasta is according to what its packaging says, about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and cook until translucent.
Drain the large pot into a colander. Add half of the potato, pasta mixture into a large oven proof dish. Sprinkle half the onion mixture and half the grated cheese. Repeat step with the rest of the ingredients.
Place the dish in the oven and cook for 5 minutes. Season with salt and serve.