Learn About Parmesan Cheese

Author: Chef Toby

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What Is Parmesan Cheese?

Parmesan cheese a hard, cream-colored cheese that originates from the Italian region of Parma, where the cheese gets its name. Commonly used for grating, the cheese has been in production for over 700 years. Authentic Parmesan cheese, known as Parmagiano Reggiano, can only be made in select regions of Italy. Under European guidelines, other styles of Parmesan not made in that region cannot use that name on their label.

What Does Parmesan Cheese Taste Like?

Both authentic and imitations of Parmesan cheese have a savory, salty, and somewhat spicy bite, depending on the age. Authentic Parmesan cheese usually has a stronger, more robust flavor.

How Can You Eat Parmesan Cheese?

You can serve Parmesan cheese in a variety of ways, at room temperature, or as part of a cooked dish. As part of an appetizer, it pairs well with cured meats, dried fruit, or honey. Parmesan cheese is also great for grating on top of salads, soups, pizza, and pasta dishes for added tang and saltiness. When Parmesan is baked, it hardens and turns into a crispy, cracker-like texture that that is perfect for adding crunch. It also works well combined with breadcrumbs to make a flavorful coating for chicken, fish, or vegetables.

Learn About Parmesan
Gourmet Organic Parmesan Cheese on a Background

Where Can You Buy Parmesan Cheese?

Most stores carry both imported Parmigiano-Reggiano and Parmesan cheese. Most cheese counters, delis, or specialty cheese sections of the grocery store carry authentic Parmesan cheese. Find regular Parmesan in the processed cheese and dairy aisle. 

How Do You Store Parmesan Cheese?

Store Parmesan cheese in the refrigerator, in a plastic bag for short periods. For more extended storage, wrap the cheese in a dampened cheesecloth or paper towel and keep it refrigerated for weeks.

Fun Fact About Parmesan Cheese:

Don’t throw away your cheese rind! Although Parmesan cheese rinds are not edible, you can still use them in some culinary applications. Toss it into your next stew or soup for a salty, savory flavor.

Did You Know?

Some refer to Parmesan cheese as “King of Italian Cheeses.”

Kids Are Great Cooks Recipes Using Parmesan:

Our homemade spinach ravioli recipe uses parmesan cheese in the ravioli filling.

Spinach and Cheese Ravioli
Homemade Spinach and Cheese Ravioli

Recipes Using Parmesan:

Chicken Parmesan

This class restaurant dish is easy and fun to make at home. Make a breading station with three bowls, one with scrambled raw eggs, one with flour, and one with parmesan cheese and breadcrumbs. Season the flour with paprika, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. With a meat tenderizer, flatten the chicken so that it is even throughout. Coat the chicken in the breading and fry it in a deep skillet until golden brown on each side. Once it’s fried, top the chicken with tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese and broil until the cheese is bubbly.

Parmesan Roasted Potatoes

On a large baking sheet, toss diced potatoes, olive oil, parmesan cheese, pepper, garlic, and dried herbs, such as parsley and thyme. Roast the potatoes until they are tender on the inside and crispy on the outside.

Parmesan Crusted Fish

Give your favorite fish a flavorful crust with this recipe. In a bowl, combine mayonnaise, breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese, butter, onion, and lemon juice. On an oiled baking dish, add fish fillets and top each piece of fish with the parmesan and bread crumb mixture. Bake the fish in the oven until the topping is crispy and the fish is flakey. Top the first with lemon juice and serve it with steamed broccoli or cauliflower.

Garlic Parmesan Mac and Cheese

In a large saucepan, make a sauce with butter, garlic, flour, milk, and chicken or vegetable bullion. Once the sauce has thickened slightly, add in cheddar, parmesan, and mozzarella cheeses. In a baking dish, add cooked pasta and the cheese sauce, and stir to coat. Top the casserole with more parmesan cheese and breadcrumbs, and broil until the topping is crisp.

Caesar Salad Dressing

This is a classic salad dressing that can be found at most restaurants and is simple to make at home. In a large bowl, combine minced garlic, anchovy paste, dijon mustard, lemon, and Worcestershire sauce, whisking until fully incorporated. Then, add mayonnaise, parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper. Serve the dressing tossed with Romaine lettuce or as a dip for carrots.

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