If the question “Which cheese for pasta?” is burning in your mind and you are trying to choose between Parmesan and Pecorino, you’re not alone. Many home cooks struggle to determine when to whip out the Parmesan vs. their piece of Romano Pecorino.
While the two cheeses are similar, there are a few key differences. We hope this info will help you make your choice!
Why Add Cheese to Pasta?
Adding cheese to pasta enhances flavor and texture, transforming a simple dish into something rich and savory-filled. The creamy and umami-rich nature of cheese, whether Parmesan or Pecorino, complements the pasta’s starchiness.
Cheese also contributes to the silkiness of sauces, helping to bind ingredients together.
Read on to answer the question, “Which cheese for pasta?”.
All About Parmesan
Parmesan, or Parmigiano-Reggiano, stands as an emblem of Italian cheese craftsmanship. It originates in regions like Parma and Reggio Emilia.
This cheese has a distinctive flavor with nutty and savory undertones. It has a delightful umami richness that enhances the dishes it’s added to.
Parmesan transforms during its aging process. Its texture becomes crumbly and granular, which is ideal for grating. With aging, its taste intensifies, gaining a sharper, robust character.
Parmesan finds an irreplaceable place in pasta dishes. It makes Fettuccine Alfredo extra creamy, while Carbonara is boosted by its nutty taste. The cheese is the real deal and an easy choice when making a pasta dish.
All About Pecorino Romano
Pecorino, crafted from sheep’s milk, is a distinguished Italian cheese.
Pecorino’s flavor is robust and tangy, standing in contrast to Parmesan’s milder flavor. This uniqueness arises from its sheep’s milk base, which gives it a distinctive taste.
Pecorino has a couple of variations, such as Pecorino Romano and Pecorino Toscano.
With its sharp and peppery essence, Pecorino Romano is a standout, often used for grating over pasta. On the other hand, Pecorino Toscano offers a milder profile, making it suitable for other Italian dishes.
Pecorino shines in pasta dishes that crave its specific qualities. Cacio e Pepe goes well with the strong flavor of Pecorino. Amatriciana, with its tomato and pork-based sauce, finds its balance with the tangy kick of Pecorino.
Choosing the Right Cheese for Your Pasta
When selecting cheese for your pasta, the contrasting flavors of Parmesan and Pecorino offer different paths.
Parmesan’s nutty, savory notes create an easy-going blend with creamy pasta dishes, while Pecorino’s robust tanginess is perfect for robust tomato-based sauces. Here’s a little more to help guide you:
- If you are trying to choose which cheese to use with your pasta, consider the makeup of the sauce. Creamy pasta, like Alfredo, is well suited to Parmesan, adding richness. With its sharpness, Pecorino amplifies the zing of tomato sauces, such as in arrabbiata.
- Consider your taste preferences. Pecorino might be right for you if you enjoy a stronger, tangier punch. For those seeking milder sophistication, Parmesan could be the answer.
- Embrace the best of both worlds by combining Parmesan and Pecorino. A great option if you really can’t choose!
Build the perfect charcuterie board and cultivate confidence in entertaining.
A beautifully curated charcuterie board is a fun way to show off your meats and cheeses. Here’s how to create a real show-stopper!
What Belongs On a Charcuterie Board?
In terms of artistry and taste, creating a balance is key. You want a mix of sweet, savory, salty, and spicy flavors. Visually, create harmony by pairing various colorful and multi-textural ingredients together.
Cured meats are a key part of your board – try a mix of sliced salami, coppa, ham, or pancetta. Don’t forget to add pieces of sausage like bologna or summer sausage. Thick slices of chorizo add texture and a meaty bite. You could also pop on a pot of chicken liver pate or a terrine.
Adding fresh fruits like grapes, sliced apples, figs, and berries adds sweetness and contrast to your charcuterie board.
Consider a sprinkle of nuts like toasted almonds or hazelnuts. Condiments like honey, fruit preserves, and jams are also at home on your board, as are mustard and pickles. Adding a few briney ingredients like olives or capers is lovely, too.
Choose two or 3 types of bread or crackers as the vehicles to load up all the tasty treats you’ve laid out. To cater to everyone’s tastes, consider multigrain, gluten-free, crusty, and plain white bread options.
Build The Perfect Charcuterie Board
- Choose your board: opt for a wooden or slate board, a marble slab, or even a large serving tray.
- Begin by placing small bowls on the board to hold condiments such as honey, mustard, or fruit preserves.
- Now, it’s time to arrange the meats. Do this in a way that allows easy access for guests to pick up slices without disturbing the overall presentation.
- Follow up by adding an assortment of cheeses.
- To complete the charcuterie board, add accompaniments that complement the flavors and textures of the meats and cheeses.
- Finally, fill any remaining empty spaces on the board with bread and crackers.
Be creative and use what is in season. Combine trendy ingredients with classic favorites, and everyone will want to tuck in.
Tips To The Best Charcuterie Board
- Adding color: fruits, flowers, and veggies all add pretty pops of color
- Vary the textures and shapes: arrange your meats and cheese in different shapes. Roll the slices, fold pieces, or cut cubes out.
- Choose complimentary pairings, for example:
- Sweet, sour, savory: try this Sour Cherry Bourbon Goat’s Cheese
- Tangy and creamy: pickles and olives with creamy cheeses
Remember, the key to taking your board to the next level is to think beyond the basics and incorporate elements that enhance both the visual appeal and taste experience.
Wrapping It Up
Take a look at our Products Page where you will find loads of options to choose from to build the perfect charcuterie board.
Did you know that tomorrow, January 20, is National Cheese Lovers’ Day? Although this “national holiday” may not be decreed by Congress or have much of a historical background, we know that many of you are Lovers’ of Cheese and always looking for a way to celebrate that love. So, let’s take a look at some fun facts and new cheesy things to try out in celebration!
March’s cheese of the month is…
At Shisler’s we carry the aged version of Asiago (ah-SYAH-goh) Cheese, an Italian cheese more specifically known as Asiago d´Allevo. It is aged anywhere from three months to up to a year. The texture also varies from semi-firm to firm depending on how long it is aged and it contains small to medium holes throughout its body. It has a sweet and nutty flavor, reminiscent of Parmesan.
It is popular as a table cheese and is good when enjoyed with crackers, fruits, and red wine. It is treated as interchangeable with parmesan and romano cheeses in some cuisines.
History of Asiago Cheese
Asiago Cheese is an Italian cheese named after a region in Italy where it was first produced. This region is known as the Asiago High Plateau, which lies within the Italian Alps. As far back as the year 1000 AD, Asiago cheese was produced by farmers in this region for use locally. Now, it is manufactured commercially in northeast Italy, specifically in the provinces of Vincenza e Trento, Padua, and in Treviso.
How to Use Asiago Cheese
The aged cheese is often grated into salads, soups, pastas, and sauces while the fresh Asiago cheese is sliced to prepare panini or sandwiches. It can also be melted on a variety of dishes.
It is a brilliant cheese to bake into bread for a cheesy treat or grate over soft pretzels before baking. We also think it works particularly well with chicken dishes. Try pasta with asiago, chicken and a cream sauce or stuff a chicken breast with slices of Asiago and wrap it in pancetta or prosciutto before cooking. You could also try it instead of Parmesan when making a Caesar salad.
For a vegetarian dish, try roasted cauliflower with a cheese sauce. Add toasted flaked almonds for a crunchy topping or even some raisins if you like sweet and savory dishes.
Like many Italian cheeses, it is fairly universal when it comes to wine pairing. It is more commonly paired with reds such as Beaujolais, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Syrah, and of course Chianti. For those who prefer white wines, Asiago cheese also pairs well with Chardonnay, Riesling, or Sauvignon Blanc. If you like to try cheeses with beer, we recommend an IPA or a Saison style beer, as the fruitiness will work well with the cheese.
Have you tried this cheese? What’s your favorite way to eat it? Let us know in the comments!
We are continuing our Cheese of the Month posts today! We will share with you some of our favorite cheeses to eat throughout the seasons, some ideas for eating them and even wine pairings so that you can make a party of it.
February’s cheese of the month is…
What is Havarti Cheese?
Havarti Cheese or Cream Havarti (Fløde Havarti in Danish) is a semi-soft Danish cow’s milk cheese. It is rindless, with a smooth surface and a cream or yellow color depending on the type. It has very small and irregular eyes (holes).
It has a buttery aroma and a generally sweet taste with a slightly acidic tang. It can be sharp in the stronger varieties, resembling Swiss cheese.
We also stock Havarti with Dill and Havarti with Caraway for those looking for additional flavor. Dill combines the flavors of fennel, anise, and celery, with a slight bitterness, whilst caraway has a very pungent, earthy anise flavor.
How is Havarti Cheese made?
Havarti cheese was initially created by Hanne Nielsen who operated an experimental farm called Havarthigaard, in Øverød, north of Copenhagen, in the mid-19th century. It is made like most cheeses, by introducing rennet to milk to cause curdling. The curds are pressed into cheese molds which are drained, and then the cheese is aged. Havarti is a washed curd cheese, which contributes to the subtle flavor of the cheese.
It will usually be aged for around three months. As it ages it becomes saltier and nuttier.
How should I eat it?
Havarti is a table cheese that is suitable for slicing, grilling, or melting. When left at room temperature the cheese tends to soften quickly so it is great on a cheeseboard alongside hard cheeses.
It is delicious melted into pasta dishes including macaroni cheese or incorporated into a grilled cheese sandwich. Havarti even works well when grated onto a pizza with mozzarella. You can make an excellent cheese sauce with it that will pair well with grilled chicken and vegetables.
Because of its creaminess, it stands up well to spice. You can use it in recipes that call for chilies and it also pairs very well with the heat of horseradish. Try Havarti with Dill in cauliflower dishes for a fun combination of tastes.
If you are serving it as part of a cheeseboard, slice a few thin slices off the block to show your guests that this is a fantastic way to enjoy it. Serve it with fresh fruits and honey, as well as savory crackers and cured meats. Try our Streb Meats Fresh Smoked Sausage as a starting point.
What should I drink with this cheese?
The smooth, creamy flavor of Havarti goes well against most red wines. It can stand up to the high alcohol flavors of Zinfandel or Shiraz, but it is subtle enough to enjoy with a soft Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon. If you prefer white wine, try a Sauvignon Blanc or Riesling, as the fruity flavors of both will complement the butteriness of the cheese. You could even try it with a light weiss beer or saison.
Do you like Havarti Cheese? Let us know in the comments!
To get 2020 off to a fun, cheesy start we have decided to introduce a Cheese of the Month blog post!
We will share with you some of our favorite cheeses to eat throughout the seasons, some ideas for eating them and even wine pairings so that you can make a party of it.
January’s Cheese of the Month is…
What is Raclette?
Raclette (ra-klet) is a semi-firm, salted cheese made from cow’s milk. It originated in the Swiss canton of Valais, but is today also produced in the French regions of Savoie and Franche-Comté.
The term raclette derives from the French racler, meaning “to scrape”. Raclette cheese is heated, either in front of a fire or by a special machine, then scraped onto diners’ plates. It’s the perfect cozy cheese for the colder winter months!
What is the history of Raclette?
Raclette is mentioned in medieval writings and was then known in the German-speaking part of Switzerland as Bratchäs, or “roasted cheese.” Traditionally, the Swiss cow herders used to take the cheese with them into the mountains. They would cook it by the campfire and scrape it onto bread. Can you think of anything more delicious than a meal of melted cheese on the top of a mountain? We certainly can’t!
Don’t worry though, you don’t need to climb a mountain to enjoy this incredible cheese.
There are a few options for serving raclette at home. You can invest in, or borrow, an electric table-top grill. These have small pans that make the job of melting the cheese easy and fun. Each person fills their small pan, known as a coupelles, with cheese and melts it before adding it to their plate.
If you have a fire pit outside, and don’t mind standing in the cold, or an indoor open fireplace, then you can actually heat the cheese next to this, just like the cowherds! Scrape the rind off the cheese and put it on a heatproof plate or stone. Then place the cut edge next to the flames until it is soft and gooey. Using oven gloves, carefully pick up the cheese and use a knife or spatula to scrape the gooey layer to push melted cheese over boiled potatoes. Do this on a big serving dish if you are serving guests and then everyone can help themselves to this.
Alternatively, you can use your oven. Cut the cheese into fairly thick slices (around 3/4 inch) and arrange the slices in a baking tray on top of boiled potatoes. Pop the whole thing in the oven and bake until the cheese is completely melted.
However you’ve melted your cheese, you should now have a plate of cheese and potatoes. The traditional accompaniments are fresh bread, cornichons, and small pickled onions, as well as a good seasoning with salt and pepper. You can serve yours in your own way, though! Try it with meats, other cheeses and a variety of chopped vegetables, especially if you’re looking to make this into the whole meal.
Serve this all with a glass of Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir or a light wheat ale.
Have you tried raclette? What’s your favorite way to serve it? Let us know in the comments below!