Calling all cheese fanatics! Enter to win Italian Grana Padano Riserva cheese. Plus, learn to cook with it or grab a knife and star nibbling, we won’t tell.
A prized Italian cheese, Grana Padano PDO was first created by Cistercian monks more than 1,000 years ago. The monks were looking for a way for the neary by dairy farmers of northern Italy’s Po Valley to preserve excess milk from their cattle.
By the 15th century, Grana Padano was one of the most popular cheeses in Italy, and today continues to be Italy’s best selling cheese worldwide. “Grana” comes from Latin for grain and “Padano” indicates it is “of the Po River.”
It is similar in texture to a Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, but has a more refined taste. An elegant pale yellow cheese with an intensely sweet flavor and perfectly intriguing granular texture, Grana Padano is made with milk from Italian Holstein-Friesian cows. Once formed, it is aged and slowly ripened between 12 to 16 months, 16 to 20 months, or between 20 to 30 months.
This cheese is beautiful served simply on a cheeseboard or with other appetizers, but it can also be used in your cooking and baking.
Serve Grana Padano with gnocchi or create a sweet and savory baked puff pastry bite topped with the cheese, dried apricots, honey, and pistachios.
As a perfect appetizer or lunch dish, this recipe from Lidia Bastianich is also great for feeding a breakfast crowd. Set the filled tomatoes in the oven and, when done, bring the roasting pan full of bubbling tomatoes to the table. Pure edible bliss!
- 4 large firm tomatoes, halved at the belly
- 2 cups stale ½-inch country bread cubes, crusts removed
- ⅔ cup grated Grana Padano
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 4 large eggs
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Scoop out the seeds and pulp of the tomatoes over a fine strainer making tomato shells. Press the collected seeds and pulp through the strainer and collect the juice. You should have about ¾ cup tomato juice.
- In a large bowl, combine the bread cubes, ⅓ cup grated cheese, parsley, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 teaspoon dried oregano and ½ teaspoon salt and toss well.
- Grease a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and set the tomato shells inside. Season the inside of the tomatoes with the remaining ½ teaspoon salt. Pack the tomatoes with the stuffing, making and indentation in each mound of stuffing large enough to break an egg into. Pour tomato juice in the bottom of the pan (but not on the tomatoes). Bake to get the tomato juices bubbling and heat the filling, about 10 minutes. Uncover and carefully break an egg into each indentation. Sprinkle the eggs with the remaining ⅓ cup of grated cheese and 1 teaspoon dried oregano. Bake until the egg whites are set but yolks are still a little runny, about 15 minutes.