One of my favorite cheeses is Parmesan, especially the nutty and wonderful Parmigiano-Reggiano, known as the “King of Cheeses”. I consider it a kitchen essential. It’s named after the areas where it is produced in Italy, they comprise the provinces of Parma, Reggio, Emilia, part of Bologna, Modena, and Mantova. Under Italian law only cheese produced in those areas are allowed to be labelled “Parmigiano-Reggiano”. You can see the name stamped on the rind. Outside the EU the name “Parmesan” can legally be used for cheeses similar to Parmigiano-Reggiano.
Keep a hunk of it in your fridge or freezer. It lasts forever and even a small grating adds a lot of flavor to a dish. I use it with scrambled eggs and roast vegetables, as well as pasta and pizza. Parmigiano-Reggiano has a lot of the quality umami, or savory.
It’s not an inexpensive cheese, but a little goes a long way. And you end up with these wonderful leftovers at the end…Parmesan rinds. Yes, don’t throw them away. Keep a bag in your freezer and save them. You might ask for what? Here are some ideas.
- Drop a rind into a pot of beans, especially white beans, while they cook. Remove before serving.
- A traditional use is in an Italian minestrone soup. Again drop in a rind to cook with your pasta and beans, then add fresh vegetables. The rind adds invaluable flavor. When you are ready to serve the soup, remove the rind and add a grating of fresh Parmesan.
- Make Parmesan stock. It tastes a lot like chicken (have you heard that before?) and packs a punch of umami. Use it for a risotto.
- Make Parmesan olive oil. Have you seen those tiny bottles of Parmesan oil in the better delis? They are outrageously expensive! And, you can make your own with your own leftover rinds. Simply add them to a jar, cover with good olive oil (make sure they are entirely covered) and store in a cool dark place. It will take several months for the flavors to blend. If you store it in the fridge, warm it up before use.
Use the oil as a finishing oil for a pasta dish, soup, or roast vegetables. Or maybe instead of your regular oil in a salad? I think you will find the uses are endless.
So, buy good quality Parmesan (Parmigiano-Reggiano if possible) and don’t throw away the rinds!
This oil is part of my contribution to Fiesta Friday, I can only imagine what a boost of flavor it will add to many of the dishes. It’s Fiesta Friday #91. Come join the fun at a virtual blogging party hosted by Angie of The Novice Gardener. The co-hosts this week are Juju @ cookingwithauntjuju and Indira @ I’ll Cook, You Wash.