We don’t need to be food aficionados to know what cheese really is. It’s common knowledge that cheese is coagulated milk which becomes the heart of bread and many other dishes in our daily life. Today we take you through a few interesting Italian cheeses and how they can be used. Italy is famous for its cheeses. A little know fact is that some of the world’s most popular cheeses are named after the Italian town wherein they originated, like Parmesan (or Parmigiano) is named after the Province of Parma, and Gorgonzola is named after Gorgonzola, a town in Milan, Italy. Even Monterey Jack, a famous Californian cheese, found its way from Italy to America, using one seaway to another, and bearing semblance to many Italian cheeses. Hence, the motherboard of cheese boards is filled with Italian cheeses. Let’s look at a few.
An A-lister when it comes to cheese, this delight is believed to have an origin that precedes the 13th century. The fact that this Italian treat is still relished today, stands testimony to its taste and goodness. It has a yellowish tinge and tickles the taste buds with a flavour that is fruity, nutty, savoury and sharp. Certainly, the more mature, the better.
As the cheese has a hard texture, it can be enjoyed chopped, shaved, grated or pared. The grated form tends to lose out on the flavour when left out for long. Hence, it is best to buy it whole and prepare accordingly before making the dish. It is best in pasta and soups when its frilly wisps are sprinkled generously. You can also give it a desi twist by adding it to your crispy hot dosas or spicy pav bhaji.
Since this hard-textured cheese is partially prepared with skimmed milk, it is considered among the healthier options from the rest of its ilk. Do keep in mind though that it is high in sodium. It has around 431 calories and 25.83 g fat content in 100 g.
You most likely are aware of this cheese thanks to its association with pizza! Originating from the land of Italy, this wonder is prepared from either pasteurised or unpasteurised cow’s or water buffalo’s milk. Unlike other cheeses that are stored for a longer period of time, this one is served the very next day that it is ready, though, it can be stored for up to a month. Semi-soft, this delight comes in a supple and stringy texture. Expect around 45% fat content and 280 calories in 100 grams.
Relish it melted or sliced in its raw form. Mozzarella cheese is commonly used for baked dishes like casseroles and pizzas. You can also have it in salads and amuse-bouche. Other options include teaming it up with your pasta and sandwiches. For something super simple but delicious, have it sliced and peppered with tomatoes.
Gorgonzola is a type of blue cheese that’s marked with subtle but distinct blue veins. This indulgence also stands apart for its salty, sharp, and earthy flavour. Prepared from full fat cow’s milk, it has a semi-soft, creamy and crumbly texture.
You can relish it raw, either crumbled or cubed, or pair it with your favourite fruit! Gorgonzola can be teamed up with fruity leaf salads or be used in a dip on the side of baked potatoes. Dried dates and blue cheese make a perfect combination. The cheese is also used in sauces or as an accompaniment to lamb dishes. It has a strong flavour that is unique and recognizable. It complements sweet and savoury dishes and is used in many desserts like a pie with pears and walnuts and cheesecakes.
“Ricotta” in Italian means recooked, referring to the reheating of the whey left over after making other cheeses. This Italian whey cheese is made from cow, water buffalo, goat or sheep milk. Once the casein is used up in the process of making another cheese, the ricotta-making process starts. It’s an excellent cheese when on a diet due to its low-fat content and high protein. It is a preferred cheese for people who are casein intolerant.
Ricotta has a mildly sweet taste and a smooth soft texture. Though it is a firm cheese, it is not solid but delicate. The beauty of this mild cheese is that it can be used to prepare sweet and savoury dishes alike. Not only used as a stuffing for ravioli, but it also goes perfectly well in lasagna and other kinds of pasta. It’s a good substitute for mascarpone in cheesecakes and to top up on pancakes. Its milky flavour makes it a popular choice in preparing desserts with fresh fruits. It can also substitute the mayonnaise in sandwiches if you are looking for low-calorie food.
Mascarpone is a high-fat cheese that uses double or triple creame and has a soft, smooth, and creamy texture. Its taste has a sweetness and acidity that is different from other cheeses, however, in texture, it is similar to some cheeses like ricotta, cream cheese, and clotted cheese. This cheese, made with full fat cow’s milk, adds richness to savoury dishes and a sweet creaminess to desserts. Its silky texture makes it spreadable. It’s an indulgence in itself. You can use it simply over fruit, or enjoy a dollop of it with honey or chocolate shavings. It makes a great topping for cakes and sweet pies, and can be used in baked cheesecakes, or as a decadent layer in tiramisu. It also goes deliciously well with scrambled eggs and is used to thicken soups and cheesy pasta sauces. This extremely versatile soft cheese is a must-try.
The best part is that most of these cheeses are today available for your to try, but if you’ve got time on your hands, you can even make some of these at home! Click here to find out how.