Even in hard cheeses, Italy leads the way! Hard cheeses represent one of the most frequent consumptions in Italy; outside the country, they maintain a distinctive personality and doubtless represent one of the flagship products of Made in Italy around the world. It is enough to mention Grana Padano PDO, Parmigiano Reggiano PDO and Pecorino Romano PDO to understand that we are talking about excellence in the Italian tradition.
These are cheeses which, due to their particular processing, can be aged for many months (or even up to three years) and which during maturation are enriched with unique flavors and aromas of the world. Appreciated by all great chefs, they are also excellent consumed in chunks, as an aperitif or as an appetizing second course. Let’s discover together today more about these fantastic products and how to prepare delicious recipes with them!
One of the most popular hard cheeses is Grana Padano. It is a cheese that is very rich in nutrients, thanks to the large quantity of milk needed to produce it. Grana Padano cheese is generally recommended in the diet of lactose intolerant people because, thanks to its extended aging, the lactose inside it essentially disappears, reaching an amount close to zero.
How to pair with other foods? Grana Padano is usually used grated or flaked. It can be eaten alone or paired with ham: its use is also common in the preparation of meats, risottos, fresh salads, sandwiches and in pasta fillings.
Parmigiano Reggiano, on the other hand, is probably the best-known hard cheese in the world. It owes its fame to its ancestral origins: it is said that it was created in the Middle Ages by Benedictine monks in the central region of Italy, the Emilia area. It soon acquired such importance that it was also consumed at royal tables and even by Popes.
How to pair with other foods? Parmigiano is a very versatile cheese, which can be eaten in pieces, grated onto pasta, or paired in particular combinations: with fruits such as pears and strawberries, or even jam, honey or balsamic vinegar.
Pecorino Romano is a very aromatic cheese, light in color, which can be eaten both sliced and grated. Pecorino should also be recognized for its high degree of digestibility, making it a seasoning suitable even for the lactose intolerant and with excellent antioxidant properties. It is certainly not by chance that this cheese is the basis of the typical Sardinian diet, where above-average longevity is recorded in populations where Pecorino is consumed daily.
How to pair with other foods? Pecorino is excellent in the preparation of several famous entrees of Italian cuisine, such as Genovese pesto and spaghetti cacio e pepe (cheese and pepper). The latter is one of the best, most delicious, cheap, quick and easy to prepare dishes of Roman cuisine, a true classic.
Moving along towards the extra hard cheeses, it is possible to find one of local origin (from the Italian region of Sardinia), that has gained great consideration throughout the world: Fiore Sardo. As its name suggests, it is produced on the island of Sardinia and is said to have been born a thousand years ago. It is a cured cheese, with a very brittle texture and an intense flavor of sheep’s milk.
How to pair with other foods? Due to its strong personality and flavor, it can be served as a dessert, accompanied by pears and walnuts or drizzled with chestnut honey, although it is also very common to find it in savory recipes.