Italian Cheese: Parmigiano Reggiano, Pecorino Romano
Italian Cheese: Something for Everyone
Italy has a long tradition of cheesemaking: In fact, it is said that the technique of aging cheese began in Ancient Rome before spreading across Europe. With hundreds of varieties produced across the country, cheese is an iconic and thriving industry in Italy. Some types are even protected by the Italian government. These special cheeses, classified as Denominazione di Origine Protetta, (or DOP, as it’s commonly called,) are only allowed to bear their name if produced at its place of origin.
What are some of the varieties of Italian cheese?
Types of Italian cheeses are categorized by the type of milk used and the aging process. Some are distinct because they have a crumbly texture or are creamy cheeses. For example, Italian Pecorino, made from sheeps milk, is nutty and grassy.
Pecorino Romano is a well-known variety, and must come from the Emiglia Romagna region, of northern Italy, to be considered authentic. Cow’s milk cheeses include Parmigiano-Reggiano, perhaps the most famous and called the king of cheese, found on top of pasta dishes around the world. In the United States we call it Parmesan cheese.
Other cow’s milk cheeses include crumbly Grana Padano, smooth Provolone, and the very pungent Taleggio. Buffalo milk is used to create the famous mozzarella, such as creamy, delicate Mozzarella di Bufala Campana DOP. This is used in the caprese salad with olive oil and tomatoes. Caciotta is another delicacy and can come from water buffalo. Instead, fresh Mozzarella is flown in from Southern Italy, from places such as Naples.
Lastly, Italian goat cheese, caprino, is made from the milk of goats grazing on Italy’s lush, green hillsides. A caprino comes in both fresh, soft cheeses, and aged forms, and is often spiced with herbs such as rosemary or paprika. Cacio e Pepe, Primo Sale, Blue Cheese, and Gorgonzola are also some other famous cheeses.
What can I do with Italian cheeses?
Whether strong or mild, creamy or nutty, Italian cheese makes a delicious addition to a charcuterie board. Layer a sandwich with provolone and cured meats, or spread soft goat cheese on a baguette with honey. While best recognized as a topping for pasta noodles, grated Parmigiano Reggiano also adds savory flavor to mashed potatoes, roasted vegetables, and baked chicken dishes.
For an après ski meal at home, melt fontina cheese over crispy potatoes. No matter what variety of cheese you’re looking for, Supermarket Italy has the selection to satisfy your cravings.