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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.

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.

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

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.

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

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

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

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

Mix until you get a crumbly mixture.

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.

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.

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..

Knead until smooth.

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

Let's make the stuffing, based on séré (German : quark) a lean fresh cheese made from whey, a Swiss cousin of ricotta. We need the cheese to be as dry as possible so as not to rip through the ravioli dough.

Place the cheese in a clean cotton cloth or a cheesecloth if you have it. Let it drip overnight.

Mix séré, quark or ricotta with the flour and egg.

Season generously with white pepper and salt.

Prepare your workspace, with the pasta machine or rolling pin, ample flour, rolling cutters (how about my fancy double cutter?), filling and a clean cloth or pasta drying rack.

Start laminating prune-sized pieces of your dough through the pasta machine, folding it in half between each pass. Stop when the dough has gone through the next-to-last setting on the machine and is smooth as silk.

Decide the size you want fo yur raviolis before you start. Place little balls of stuffing at equal interval, not forgetting that you'll need another pasta sheet the same size or to fold in half the one you use.

Seal and cut using the rolling cutter. Do not worry if a little dough oozes out as you roll...

...nor if you can't roll straight. Irregular raviolis denote homemade pasta and most guests will forgive you. Tell them 'That's the way it's done in the Alps' if anybody complains.

If the dough is too sticky, cover with flour before cutting.

Try to obtain raviolis of the same size.

Flour generously and leave them on a rack or floured cloth so they don't stick.

Boil for a minute or so in your largest pot filled with salted water brought to a rolling boil.

How about that? A delicious, intensly green ravioli with a delicate but very present Schabziger pungency ...

... and filled with a light cheese filling. Diet, FXcuisine-style!

If you feel that this is too much for you, just omit the ravioli and stuffing stage and cut your pasta in your favorite shape, and serve with butter ...

... or grated Sbrinz. A really unique pasta!

Original recipe from:
Schwert Restaurant
Jürg Weber
Landstrasse 13a
8754 Netstal
Glarus, Switzerland


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36 Comments

1,000 year old cheese!  And, I thought I was bad for not cleaning out the cheese drawer in the refrigerator.  Obviously, I kid!

These pics are so vibrant - better than coffee for a morning wake up. Nice post.
  • #2
  • Comment by GeorgeH
I love your site, but . . . . .

How much Schabziger do you add to the dough?
Speaking of very very sharp cheeses, are you acquainted with the wonders of ? If not, you should definitely check it out... For readers that don't speak Italian here is an overexcited introduction to the topic.
Wow, what a wonderful recipe! Those raviolis are beautiful and must taste great! A gorgeous creation! Schabziger is indeed a very strong and pungent cheese which has a very interesting flavor...

Cheers,

Rosa (from Switzerland)
  • #5
  • Comment by Paulina  C. L. Tognato
I'm from Brazil and I love your blog.
Your recipes and your equipments are verry specials.
Congratulations!!!!!!
I'll try this pasta recipe and I know will be a new succesfull for my friends.
thanks.......


  • #6
  • Comment by chicago
gorgeous!!
  • #7
  • Comment by Mar
Deliciosos esos ravioles!!!, el color una maravilla y el relleno deliciosos!!!, felicitaciones una vez más!!!
I'm SOO jealous of your kenwood Major. I saw one in a department store and it was PRICEY!! (AUD$1000+!) Unfortunate for someone on a student budget. poor me.
  • #9
  • Comment by Luke
Schabziger sounds like a cheese I'd definitely like to try. I have just one thing I want to ask: is blue fenugreek anything like the the regular fenugreek? By the way you described it, I got the impression that it's way more sharp and pungent. They're in the same genus, though, so it can't be too different, can it?

On a side note, in response to Walter Aprile, I'm really hoping you're not talking about the horror that is casu marzu.
looks delicious..........good job!
  • #11
  • Comment by Susie Lamonte
I would really, really love to see your take on an Italian Timpano.  The pictures alone would be fantastic.  Just saw the movie "Big NIght" and was suprised you had not done one yet.  I dearly want to make one but I'd prefer you tackle it first and show us the way.

Love your site.  It is the best cooking blog ever.
  • #12
  • Comment by Gina in Redondo Beach
How cute are those ravioli?

"that's the way they do it in the Alps" hah-ha!

My brain is wondering how those would taste deep-fried - heehee, I've been hanging around here too much!
Cheese that'll make you faint- sounds intriguing. Hard to imagine its reputation given how innocent your ravioli pillows look.
By the way you described it, I got the impression that it's way more sharp and pungent. They're in the same genus, though, so it can't be too different, can it?
  • #15
  • Comment by Luke
Erm, thanks for copying and pasting what I've written, Weight Watchers Recipes. I can't help but get the sneaking suspicion that you're a stealthy spammer.
Definitely a spammer. As if there was a place on FX Cuisine for Weightwatchers recipes! This place is cheese and cream central... not that I'm complaining FX!
  • #17
  • Answered by fx
Dana, the recipe is 1000 year old, but I'd sure be interested to see the medical properties of an actual 1000-year-old Schabziger. Might wake up the dead!
  • #18
  • Answered by fx
George, you need to add one stick or 3 oz or 100gr schabziger.
  • #19
  • Answered by fx
Walter, I apologize but whatever link you posted disappeared.
  • #20
  • Answered by fx
Rosa, thanks a lot for visiting! A Swiss food blogger in English, no less. I love your homemade breads, they look awesome!
  • #21
  • Answered by fx
Paulina, thanks for visiting and good luck if you try this! Perhaps you can find a Brazilian cheese to replace the Schabziger.
  • #22
  • Answered by fx
Ahmad, don't worry about the Kenwood Major, if you complete your studies one day you'll be able to afford one, and it'll be better and cheaper in a couple years.
  • #23
  • Answered by fx
Luke, I believe both fenugreek look relatively similar but the Blue Fenugreek has a much sharper taste.
  • #24
  • Answered by fx
Susie, I have a pigeon macaroni pie in short dough on my blog, a rather impressive dish. But I'm planning another macaroni pie baked in old copper molds - just bear with me.
  • #25
  • Answered by fx
Gina, thanks for visiting, they are indeed beautiful in their vibrant colors!
  • #26
  • Answered by fx
Callipygia, on the contrary, this cheese will bring you back if you faint.
Those ravioli are PERFECT!  This entry made me as hungry as the bearnaise entry and I love the mixer :D.

  • #28
  • Answered by fx
Weightwatchers? He must have been looking for my cholesterol-free starter.
  • #29
  • Comment by lecras eric

hello

as usual wonderful picture, please let me know where i can order this professional pastry/pasta cutter
or where i could order it i live in bangkok

Eric
  • #30
  • Answered by fx
Eric, if you mean the little wheels to cut sheets of dough, you should look at Mora in Paris, they have a website and ship worldwide, so does toutpourlechef.com . The Italian websites really harder to order from. Let me know if it helps!
I was so excited to see how you used the Sapsago in this recipe.  The cheese is very hard to come by where I live and my mother used to make these little ham sandwiches with mustard, poppy seeds, and sapsago.  Warm from the oven they are amazingly delicious.  I tried at one point to research some of their recipes online, but I could not come up with anything in English.  Next time I find some I'll be sure to try this one out.  Love your blog!  I think it is amazing some of the places you go! I admit to being jealous.  Thanks again!
  • #32
  • Answered by fx
Sucreblog, thanks for visiting! Would you have a recipe for your mother's sapsago sandwiches?
  • #33
  • Comment by constantin
Dear FX: I bought Schabziger in Paris today. It came in a dark green package which is identified on Geska's site as the "Netherlands" "version".

My previous tasting of this cheese date back to some years ago: my father would grate a little of it, mix it with a little grated young gralic and spread this on small toasts.

I was surprised and disappointed today to find a softer and much less pungent cheese than I remembered. I was also surprised to find an expiration date only two months ahead.

The Schabziger I recall wa a smaller foil or paper wrapped cone of truly hard and strong stuff...

Has it changed indeed or am I suffering from an ailing memory?

Kind regards  
  • #34
  • Answered by fx
Constantin, nowadays the only Schabziger I´ve ever seen comes in those little plastic jards. I believe it will take some additional taste a couple days after you open it. I hope to visit a traditional Schabziger maker someday and will report back. Otherwise try the bottarga on toast, that rocks!
  • #35
  • Comment by Geoff Ball
Well congrats on your photography and writing, I am salivating almost out of control. Looks wonderful, I wish we had cheese like that here.

I think I might have to add that to things to do/get on my next trip to Europe.
  • FX's answer→ Schabziger is really, really strong and you won't miss it no more once you've tried it unless you dilute it or grate it on top a soup or bread.




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