J is for Joy of Italian Cheeses

What’s a month of Italian cuisine posts, without one on the fabulous cheeses the country produces? Here are my favourites:

My personal favourite is, and forever will be, Pecorino cheese. Made of sheep’s milk (hence the name, as pecora is Italian for sheep), there are several regional versions. The Pecorino Romano is most popular outside Italy, and made in Sardinia, as well as Lazio – the region in which Rome lies – and Tuscany. The cheese has a hard texture, and has a distinct salty taste. It’s great when shaved over the pasta, or just as it is. Romans use it in the Pasta Cacio e Pepe, made with the tonnarelli pasta, and loads of pepper.

Pecorino cheese is even better in small bits like these

The world famous cheese is traditionally made from the milk of water buffalo’s. A protected product, it can only be named Mozzarella di Bufala Campagna when produced in Campania, Lazio, Apulia, and Molise. The name derives from the Italian mozzare (to cut off). Mozzarella is a soft cheese, but firm. Most often used on pizza’s, and the fresh Insalata Caprese.

mozzarella caprese
Insalata Caprese with fresh mozzarella

Different than most of the Parmesan cheeses in our local supermarkets, this one is the real deal. As with the other cheeses, it’s a protected product that can only be produced in several provinces or cities in Emilia-Romagna, and one in Lombardia. The hard cheese is usually grated over pasta, risotto, and soup. It is also shaved over carpaccio, or used as a gratin for dishes such as melanzane.

parmigiano reggiano
Look at the salt on these shavings of Parmigiano-Reggiano

The only blue cheese you will ever see me eat, originates from the northern regions of Piedmont and Lombardy. Also protected under Italian law, only whole cow’s milk is used. Mold spores are added to the milk. During the aging, metal rods are being inserted and removed just as quickly which enables the spores to grow into hyphae in the air channels created. These hyphae (a sort of fungus) make for the characteristic blue veining of the Gorgonzola. The creamy cheese is used on pizza (namely the Quattro Formaggi), melted in a risotto, or as a sauce for short pasta’s such as penne.

ravioli gorgonzola
Spinach filled ravioli covered by a creamy Gorgonzola sauce

What’s your favourite Italian cheese? Is it one of the four above, or a different one, such as Asiago, or Fontina? Let me know!


12 Comments Add yours

  1. What a ‘J’olly post Lisa. I don’t eat cheese any more but I used to love dolcelatte 🙂 Having been vegetarian most of my life the Italian cheese I’ve probably eaten the most is ricotta (paired with spinach) Yum! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. basilandoil says:

      Ricotta is amazing as well! So versatile!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. You just made me hungry! Pecorino is definitely near the top of my list for favorites. Number one for me is Havarti. Number two is probably Asiago. Yum…I have yet to meet a cheese I haven’t liked. Glad to find you via the A to Z! Elle @ Erratic Project Junkie

    Liked by 1 person

    1. basilandoil says:

      Thanks for the comment! I’ve never actually heard from Havarti so that’s one cheese I’m going to need to try!!


  3. clicksclan says:

    I don’t know much about different Italian cheeses, but I do like a bit of mozzarella. We used to get these ‘mozzarella melts’ which were cheese coated in breadcrumbs. You’d heat them up and the cheese would go all melty. I loved them!

    Cait @ Click’s Clan


    1. basilandoil says:

      That sounds absolutely delicious!! Have to try!!


  4. Sabina says:

    Pecorino Romano is one of my favorites!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. basilandoil says:

      Great choice ;)!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Hannah G says:

    I don’t have a favorite, just gimme. 😉


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