Recipe: Two-Cheese Penne (Fromage Frais & Sbrinz)

A quick pasta dish you can throw together with two Swiss cheeses—or my suggested substitutions, if you can’t get the real thing!

2-cheese penne5

My kids love pasta (not surprising, I know). Frankly, one of their favorites—like many American kids—is macaroni from a box with powdered cheese (I’m not sure my Swiss friends would understand such a thing!). So, when I saw a penne with 2-cheese recipe from Swissmilk, I thought it might be a good mac ‘n cheese alternative.

I have adapted this recipe (a little less wine and the addition of frozen peas). It calls for two types of cheese: fromage frais with herbs and Sbrinz. In Switzerland, you can find fromage frais quite easily in small and large markets. In the US, however, if you can’t find fromage frais, a soft goat cheese with herbs can be a good substitute. Sbrinz, on the other hand, is a Swiss cheese with a special designation, and may not be as easy to find outside of Switzerland. As such, you can use parmesan cheese as a substitute.

Sbrinz AOP


Sbrinz AOC

Sbrinz is a very hard cheese that’s been in Switzerland since the 16th century. It’s taste and texture remind me of parmesan cheese, but unlike its Italian cousin, Sbrinz is a full-fat cheese, according to Patrimoine Culinaire Suisse. About 30 valley and alpine dairies in Central Switzerland currently produce this cheese. Made with raw cow’s milk, it must age for about 16-18 months before it’s ready to eat. The AOP designation (Appellation d’origine protégée) for Sbrinz, which it earned in 2002, guarantees that it’s made using traditional methods and in a particular region of Switzerland

A unique way to learn about Sbrinz cheese involves retracing the centuries-old route of the traders that passed through the alps from Lucerne, Switzerland to Domodossola, Italy. Sbrinz cheese used to be loaded on mules in Brienz—the presumed source for its name—and taken across the Alps to Italy. Today, the Sbrinz Route can be completed in about 8 days, and there are guided and self-guided options.

More information:

Two-Cheese Penne with Peas and Leeks

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Recipe adapted from SwissMilk.
Contains: milk, wheat


about 1 leek (1 1/4 – 1 1/2 cups), thinly sliced
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon flour
50 ml (about 1/4 cup) white wine or vegetable broth
250 ml (about 1 cup) vegetable broth
1 cup frozen peas
1/2 cup fromage frais (or goat cheese) with herbs
and pepper, to taste
500 grams (about 1 lb.) penne
fresh basil, finely chopped
Sbrinz cheese (or parmesan cheese), grated


1. Melt the butter in a frying pan and add the chopped leeks. Cook for about 5 minutes over medium high heat, stirring frequently, until the leeks begin to soften and start to break apart.

2. Add the tablespoon of flour to the leeks and stir for about one minute until the leeks are evenly coated.

3. Add the white wine, vegetable broth and peas to the leek mixture. Bring it to a boil and then simmer for about 5-10 minutes until the peas are cooked. While this simmers, cook the pasta in a pot of boiling water, following the instructions on the package. Drain the pasta and return it to the pan.

4. Take the leek and broth mixture off the heat and stir in the fromage frais until incorporated. Add salt and pepper to taste.

5. Add the sauce to the hot pasta and stir until well-combined. Serve immediately topped with grated Sbrinz (or parmesan) and finely chopped basil.

2-cheese penne2

If you have any favorite recipes using Sbrinz cheese, please let me know! Leave a comment below or send me an email. Thanks!

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