Italian cheese has a long history dating back to the Roman Empire, almost 2,000 years. The Romans were the first to experiment with maturing cheese in different conditions to develop Italian cheese with unique flavors, textures, and aromas. With over 400 dairy advancements, Italian cheese manufacturing is the most diverse in the world. The many cheesemakers in Italy share a passion for producing high-quality cheese. Italian cheeses have an unmistakable flavor, and Italy can boast about the quality, diversity, and history of its milk products all over the world.
Italian Cheeses You Should Know
1. Parmigiano-Reggiano (Parmesan)
The ‘Parmigiano Reggiano,’ an incredibly tasty and vital cheese, is Italy’s most famous cheese, recognized as or even as the ‘king of cheeses’ in its homeland. You may be more familiar with this cheese as ‘Parmesan,’ which is the term given to a similar cheese made outside of a designated location in Northern Italy. An enormously flavorful, important cheese. Only between April and November can Parmigiano-Reggiano be created, as the cows must graze on fresh, verdant pastures rather than dry hay.
Parmesan is a famous example of the fifth taste—umami. It’s crumbly, salty, and savory. Pasta, risotto, eggs, vegetables, meat dishes, salads, and soups are all great ways to use this Italian cheese. This luscious Italian cheese, chunked and drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and coupled with olives, Prosciutto di Parma, and grissini, is equally at home as part of an antipasto dish.
Provolone is an aged, stretched-curd cheese made from cow’s milk and is considered to be Italy’s national cheese. A provolone is made by rubbing down mozzarella in brine and oil, wrap it in rope, and hang it to dry, harden, and transform.
Provolone is an excellent all-around cheese. Use it in place of any other grated cheese in a tart, quiche, pie, meat stuffing—or a simple grilled cheese sandwich, meatballs, or roast pork. In omelets, melt. Alternatively, serve with a glass of chilled beer and a bowl of olives.
Ricotta is a whey cheese created using the leftover whey from the manufacturing of other cheeses. Although the exact texture depends on the type of milk used, the completed product has a creamy white look and a slightly sweet taste. Ricotta can be prepared from cow’s milk, goat’s milk, sheep’s milk, or buffalo milk in Italy, but cow’s milk ricotta is the most widely available. Ricotta is a creamy, mellow, and sweet cheese that’s comparable to cottage cheese but lighter and more flavorful. It’s possible that this is Italy’s most popular soft cheese.
Ricotta is a popular ingredient in lasagna and desserts. Its creamy flavor makes it suitable for both sweet and savory foods; it’s used in gelato and as the filling for sweet cannoli. It’s also delicious on crostini.
This well-known Italian blue cheese is available in two varieties: Dolce (sweet and creamy) and Mountain (hard) (piquant and semi-soft). Gorgonzola, a pungent blue cheese with blue veins, is one of the most popular blue cheeses in the world, right up there with French Roquefort. When gorgonzola is young, it has a creamy, Brie-like texture; as it ages, it gets firmer and crumblier. The flavor of all gorgonzola is garlicky and spicy.
Gorgonzola is frequently melted into risotto towards the end of the cooking process, but it’s also popular with short pasta like penne or rigatoni, rather than long pasta like spaghetti and linguine. It also pairs well with a bold Italian red such as Amarone or Barolo, as well as a dessert wine like Moscato d’Asti. A terrific salad cheese, a spaghetti companion, and a delicious dessert with pears or figs.
5. Mozzarella di Bufala
One of the more well-known forms of Italian cheese, mozzarella really refers to a few different types of cheese, although it most commonly refers to cheese manufactured from Italian buffalo milk and cut using the ‘pasta filata’ spinning and cutting technique. This classic Italian cheese has a rich, slightly sour flavor and a grassy scent, making it a true delicacy.
This semi-soft, white cheese has a high moisture content and is commonly used in pizza, lasagna, or a Caprese salad with tomato and basil. With a juicy tomato, basil leaves, a drizzle of good extra virgin olive oil, flaky salt, and a sprinkle of black pepper. Alternatively, serve with anchovies and crusty bread. It’s so wonderful that it doesn’t require any effort.
This cheese, which belongs to the Stracchino family, is called for the Alpine valley of Val Taleggio in Lombardy, where it is made. Taleggio is traditionally created from the curd of heated cow’s milk (to which cultures and rennet are added), matured in a cave, and washed with salty sea water once a week. Taleggio has a bigger bark than a bite. Don’t be scared off by the strong aroma; the creamy semi-soft cheese has a gentler flavor than you may expect. The funkiness is balanced, complex, a little nutty, and a lot fantastic, despite the fact that it smells like a roaring skunk. It is beefy, salty, and tart.
Taleggio melts beautifully and gives a depth of flavor to risottos, creamy polenta, and even pizzas. In our creamy polenta recipe, replace it with cheddar. A fruity white wine like Soave or a robust red like Barbaresco or Barolo go well together.
Pecorino is the name given to a group of cheeses manufactured entirely of sheep’s milk. It’s a hard sheep’s milk cheese with characteristics that range from nutty to salty, savory to tangy, or a mix of all three, depending on how long it’s been matured.
It’s most commonly grated over pasta, soup, and salad as a slightly harsher taste alternative to Parmesan. It’s probably too salty and overwhelming for most people to enjoy as a table cheese.
The history of cheese in Italy is as varied as the variety of cheese produced in Italy. It is used in the preparation of both North and South Italian traditional foods. It’s possible that Italy is the birthplace of cheese.