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Schabziger Pasta

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Swiss pasta made from a thousand-year-old Alpine cheese so pungent it will bring you back from the dead.

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The small but highly efficient emergency medical service of the Swiss canton of Glarus includes in their medics' toolkit a small vial of Schabziger, the local cheese. When a person passes out, the vial is opened below his or her nostrils until he or she wakes up. Failure to respond to the Schabziger treatment is not a good sign. It is unclear whether people wake up because they think the divine smell means they have reached Heaven, or rather because they feel this ghastly smell can only mean they are nearing to Hell. In any case, failure to respond is interpreted as a certain sign of death. Locals and long-term residents of Glarus enjoy the smell while most foreigners are taken aback by its pugent, tear-jerking strength.

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Schabziger [shaptseegair] or sapsago is a tiny cylindrical cheese made from fresh whey cheese, a bit like a hard ricotta. But whereas ricotta is soft and velvetty, Schabziger is a sort of in-your-face pungent curmudgeon. The big difference with ricotta is that since the Crusades, Schabziger has been flavored with a generous amount of dried Trigonella caerulea aka Blue Fenugreek. Not everyone enjoys Schabziger's pungent, tear-jerking strength and even in Glarus it is used only as a condiment. The first time I bought it, years ago, I almost fainted as I tried to eat a piece of it. But you get used to it, and nowadays half our Schabziger production is exported beyond the confines of Glarus and into Europe.

Here is one simple but also sophisticated way of enjoying this most intriguing cheese. As you'll see, the schabziger is not grated on the pasta, nor included in the filling, but built into the pasta dough.

Schabziger Pasta
500gr flour
200gr spinach leaves
1 stick Schabziger (100gr/3oz)
0.5 dl / 3 tbsp olive oil
1dl / 7 tbsp water
3 eggs

Stuffing for Schabziger Ravioli
500gr séré, quark or ricotta
1 egg
2 tbsp flour
White pepper
Salt

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Let's start with making the green schabziger pasta dough. Place the washed, picked and stemmed spinach leaves in a blender and add the oil. Why oil? Because chlorophyll, the green coloring agent in the spinach, only dissolved in oil.

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Add your schabziger and the water and mix again until smooth.

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There you are. Pour into a bowl but don't drink this unless you are in a coma.

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We will now prepare the pasta using flour, eggs and our green alpine brew.

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Combine the eggs with the flour in a large kitchen machine or bowl if you work by hand.

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Mix until you get a crumbly mixture.

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Add a third of the spinach-schabziger mixture. It is very important that you keep firmly on top of the water content in your dough. If you add too much liquid, you'll need to add more flour later to compensate and will either end up with an unwieldy large batch, or run out of flour. Better add the liquid little by little.

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Start the machine again to fully incorporate the green liquid. I love the reflections on my Kenwood kitchen machine!

Test the texture - is is too dry or too wet? Add more green liquid if too dry, more flour if too wet.

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There you are - a nice, smooth dough. Check that the dough is not too wet - Thou Shall Not Stick - is the first commandement of pasta dough..

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Knead until smooth.

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Wrap it so that no part is exposed to the air and let it rest for 30 minutes in a cool place.

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