On Tuesday, I attended Parmigiano Reggiano Academy with a bunch of fellow food bloggers at Eataly Chicago's La Scuola. This was my first class at the Italian food fantasyland and I was not disappointed.
Did you know how much Parmigiano Reggiano changes as it ages? It goes from beige to golden; from sweet and acidic to sweet, salty and acidic. It grows harder and crumblier, which makes it perfect for grating. The long aging process breaks down fats, which adds flavor. It also breaks down protein, which makes it easier to digest. It's good at 14 months, but amazing at 24. Plus, when cooked, Parmigiano Reggiano is texturally anonymous. Have you ever noticed how wonderfully it melts into gratins?
In addition to learning how to discern the subtleties of the cheese through taste, smell and texture, we had the opportunity to taste small dishes created by Chef Adam Weisell. My favorite? It had to be this grilled pear with basil, almonds and shaved Parmigiano Reggiano. Lucky for us, he generously shared the recipe. Grab it and my favorite links from the week below.
PERA GRIGLIATA CON BASILICO, MANDORLE AND PARMIGIANO REGGIANO
(GRILLED PEAR WITH BASIL, ALMONDS AND SHAVED PARMIGIANO REGGIANO)
Recipe by Chef Adam Weissell. Serves 4
- 4 Bosc or Bartlett pears, firm but ripe
- 1/3 cup almonds, peeled and toasted
- 1 bunch basil, leaves picked
- 1 garlic clove
- 2 tablespoons Parmigiano Reggiano, grated
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- Sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
In the bowl of a food processor, add the almonds and garlic and pulse until finely chopped. Add the basil leaves, a pinch of salt and the extra virgin olive oil. Blend until homogenous. Fold in the Parmigiano Reggiano.
Quarter and core each pear, discarding the seeds. Rub each pear quarter with extra virgin olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and grill with the cut side down until grill marks have appeared and the fruit is slightly caramelized.
Add a spoonful of pesto into the center of each pear and serve.
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