Every trip I make to Italy means stocking-up on Parmigiano Reggiano. If I have to leave a kilo of dirty washing behind for the sake of getting this beautiful and versatile cheese into my suitcase, then I will. Sadly, it's so expensive in the UK, but in Italy a decent chunk only sets you back a few euros. Handmade using a 900-year-old recipe and matured for up to 30 months, Parmigiano is suitable to add to lots of dishes and for many occasions.
This hard and granular cheese has no preservatives and thanks to its long maturation, is lactose-free. It can be used in many ways: on its own, eaten in small chunks, simply accompanied by fresh bread and a glass of good red wine (how I love it!). It's great with fruit or chutney, or by drizzling with honey for a delicious alternative. Or as a condiment to add that finishing touch of flavour. Grated or shaved, any dish is enriched by Parmigiano. Traditionally in the UK, we have only used it to sprinkle on pasta or risotto and many so-called 'Italian' restaurants here don't even offer customers fresh good quality Parmigiano, but a cheap alternative that smells like 'rotting socks' and tastes disgusting. A shaving or sprinkle of fresh Parmigiano is a delight with any pasta dish. But it can also be used with soups and salads, or why not try it on grilled vegetables, a great source of umami, adding an unmistakable savoury note. This wonderful versatile cheese is great too when added to sauces, stews and quiches.