Five ways to use Italy’s beloved Grana Padano

If you’re anything like us, you’re constantly looking for excuses to work cheese into your diet. Grana Padano is known for its hard, crumbly texture and savory, nutty bite (chef’s kiss)—similar to that of its cousin, Parmigiano-Reggiano, but with a slightly sweeter effect.

Italians have been incorporating it into recipes for almost a thousand years. The secret behind Grana Padano is its aging process. Each wheel spends nine months maturing, before having to pass strict quality control tests administered by the Grana Padano Protection Consortium.

Only after acing these assessments will the cheese get the literal seal of approval: it’s fire-branded with the marking that allows it to officially be deemed Grana Padano. Use Grana Padano as you would any grateable cheese, anywhere you could use an extra punch of umami, or simply enjoy a chunk on its own. Here are some ways to incorporate it into your next hero dish.

Grate it

Grating your Grana Padano might sound obvious, but the trick is to match the grade to the intensity of the dish. For example, try a delicate snow-like dusting over a lighter dish such as a raw shaved Brussels sprout salad. You can accomplish this using a microplane and a gentle hand. Or, go big and bring out your heavy-duty grater to wield thick curls for a garnish that packs a punch—perfect for heartier pastas or risottos.

Rind it out

Before you toss out the rind of a Grana Padano wedge, consider saving it to add to a stock or soup. This edible section of the cheese infuses your broth with savory, nutty notes that add depth. Just don’t forget to clean the rind (use a gentle brush) before adding it to the pot and remove it before serving—or cut it into small pieces before dropping it in the pot to avoid biting into a large, chewy chunk.

Whip it (whip it good)

Incorporate Grana Padano into ricotta, mozzarella, or any other spreadable cheese to enrich an otherwise mild variety. This combo can be used to add zip to lasagnas, stuffed pasta shells, or ravioli centres. Generally, the milder, spreadable cheese will make up the bulk of the filling, so whisk in roughly one part grated Grana Padano to every three parts of the complementary cheese.

Fold it

In short, the art of folding involves gently stirring a sauce in an upward motion in order to mix in a cheese without breaking the sauce. The melted goodness that results from this technique is dynamite in richer, creamier dishes like cacio e pepe, alfredo, carbonara, risotto, and of course, mac and cheese.

Sweeten it

To finish: cheese for dessert! And we’re not talking cheese plates, although Grana Padano would be the star of any charcuterie board. This cheese makes a delightful counterpart to fruity or nutty desserts: think stone fruits, orchard fruits, or dried fruits (oh my). Work a dash of Grana Padano into fruity filling or grate the cheese into pancake batter to liven up your baked staples.

Latteria Soresina Grana Padano PDO is exclusively distributed by Conga Foods since 1978. For your nearest stockists: