The Italian Pantry: Cheese

When most people think of Italian cheese, they think of parmesan. But the go-to cheese for Southern Italians is pecorino romano. A popular brand is Locatelli, and in fact, we use the brand name in conversation much like Americans say “kleenex” for tissues. One thing is for sure–you will always find a block of pecorino romano in our refrigerator. And we grate it using a Mouli grater.

What is it used for? Mostly, we grate the cheese and use it to top off a bowl of pasta with tomato gravy/sauce. Or we use it to top off a bowl of soup like lentil or chicken soup. It’s used in other pasta dishes like lasagna or baked ziti. It’s used in meatballs. It’s used in my rice with eggs and cheese. We do not use it on top of seafood pasta dishes. (Another cheese that is not used as often but can be eaten or used to sprinkle on pasta is ricotta salata, similar to feta.)

–Dina Di Maio

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