What to do with your favourite Italian cheese

Imagine a world without Italian cheese? With no Parmigiano to put on your pasta, no mozzarella for your pizza and no Gorgonzola to go on your cracker… it’s clear that the world enjoys Italy’s artisan dairy products immensely. But have you ever tried cooking with your favourite cheeses? Here are a few authentic Italian recipes that will make you wonder why you ever restricted Pecorino to just pasta.

Gnocchi with Gorgonzola cheese and bacon

Although delicate, this dish does not compromise on flavour. With the taste of the blue cheese softened by the cream and a beautiful yellow colour provided by the saffron, it epitomizes Italian cooking: a few key ingredients, simply joined to create the ultimate indulgent dinner.cheese gorgonzola bacon

Serves 3

Ingredients:

– 500g of gnocchi
– 100g Gorgonzola, crumbled
– 100g cream
– 50g bacon, chopped into cubes
– a few pinches of saffron
– olive oil

Method:

1. Using a large pan, fry the bacon.

2. In a separate pan, cook your gnocchi according to packet instructions. When they begin to rise to the surface, drain them.

3. When the bacon is cooked, drain any excess fat and add crumbled gorgonzola, cream and saffron to the pan.

4. Add the gnocchi to the pan with the cream and bacon, stir gently and serve.

5. Buon appetito!

Polenta and ricotta cheese cake with dates and pecans

An unusual cake very different to its counterparts in terms of taste and texture, the polenta in it provides a sandy texture while the ricotta and Amaretto liqueur keep it moist. As well as incorporating many classic Italian ingredients, it also freezes very well.

cheese ricotta cake

Serves 8

Ingredients:

– 200g polenta
– 250g ricotta
– 175g chopped dates
– 50g pecans (roughly chopped)
– 200g self-raising flour
– 225g golden caster sugar
– 110g butter, melted
– 1 tbsp demerara sugar
– 3 tbsp Amaretto
– 1tsp baking powder
– 1 tsp ground cinnamon

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 170 degrees celsius.

2. Place the dates in a bowl and cover with Amaretto. Leave to soak for 15 minutes.

3. Put the pecans on an oven tray and toast for 8 minutes, being careful not to burn them.

4. Using a large mixing bowl, sift the polenta, flour, baking powder and ground cinnamon. Tip the grains of the polenta in and mix with the rest.

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