Friday, November 5, 2010

Day Two Sixty Nine - Grana Padano GCF

Why Grana Padano this week? Well because the northern Italian cheese is a proud sponsor of the ING NYC Marathon that I am running in this Sunday. I know you are probably thinking a cheese a sponsor of a marathon? What? Well, there is that infamous pasta dinner that feeds 15,000 runners the night before the race, that might have something to do with it. Grana Padano is lower in fat than a majority cheeses and dairy and cheese are key in ones diet, even a runner's diet.

So I thought why not do a GCF in honor of the cheese sponsor of the marathon?

Before we get to this week's GCF, let me go over the basic differences between Grana Padano and its more well-known cousin - Parmigiano-Reggiano. Many people simply think that Grana Padano is Parmigiano's cheaper sibling and that my friends is incorrect. Both cheeses were originally made by monks and are produced in large wheels in the north of Italy and are available for sale at different lengths of aging. However Grana Padano is made solely with skimmed milk where as Parmigiano is made with a mixture of whole and skimmed milk making Parmigiano more nutty and salty than Grana Padano. The different locales that the cheeses are produced also impacts their difference in flavor profile, because the cows do not eat the same grass obviously in the entire northern region of Italy. Why then is Grana Padano cheaper? Well that's because it can be produced in five different regions in the north of Italy where as Parmigiano can only be produced in five different towns.

So now that we understand the difference between the two cheeses, shall we get to our GCF.

Grab some Middle Eastern flatbread, found at Fairway and other supermarkets, its fluffier and more flavorful than a pita with a lightness to it. Now I recommend grabbing some za'atar (a Middle Eastern spice mixture that is delectable) and mixing with some evoo and toasting the bread in the oven brushed with that combo.   It will jazz up our Grana and turn it from an Italian snacking and grating cheese into this week's star! What else does this sandwich need? Well, how about the key ingredient in most pasta sauces? Tomatoes! What would Grana be without tomatoes? To prepare your tomatoes for this sandwich, oven roast at 350 degrees in thin slices with EVOO, herbes de Provence, Sea Salt, Black Pepper, and some fresh Basil. Roast till the tomatoes get golden brown and absorb all their juices. Next up this sandwich needs some balsamic glazed portobello mushrooms. The mushrooms are simple -- saute over low heat with aged balsamic, soy sauce, evoo, madeira, and shallots. Brown them and pop them in the mix with your oven roasted tomatoes, grana and middle eastern flatbread.  It will be a delight I guarantee!

So folks, next time you are deciding between Parmigiano and Grana, choose Grana for something different!

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