Today we’re talking about capers from Pantelleria, tiny but very rich in flavour. But there’s more, we’ll also...
Italian cheeses for picnics
Italian cheeses are not only countless and delicious, but they are also the stars of fresh, tasty summer dishes that are easy to carry around. And that is not to overlook when you’re organising a picnic.
Say goodbye to cheese boards, fondues and timbales with melting cheese – for a picnic we need dishes that we can easily eat on the grass, with our hands and no plates. It may seem strange, but there are actually countless cheese dishes that one can enjoy during a picnic.
You don’t even need to follow the proper serving order when you’re at a picnic. You can enjoy your meal in an informal way, lying on a blanket in the shade. Let’s take a look at some fresh and mouth-watering recipes that are easy to carry around, to serve and to bite into.
Italian cheeses for pies, plum cakes, quiches etc.
A quiche is a must in a picnic basket. You can cut it into portions at home and you just need a napkin to eat it without making a mess. Given the huge variety of Italian cheeses, there are endless combinations: the duo Gorgonzola cheese and caramelised onions is always a good idea.
First of all, caramelise the onions with oil, butter, sugar and balsamic vinegar; then, place them on the pastry, cover them with Gorgonzola cheese and bake. If you have time, it would be ideal to make the quiche pastry yourself. You can make, for instance, a shortcrust pastry (pâté brisée), perhaps with flour made from ancient grains.
Savoury plum cakes are also perfect for picnics. They enhance the flavour of cheese and they are very handy. You can slice them at home and you don’t need any plate or cutlery to eat them.
My favourite is plum cake with smoked Provola cheese and asparagus – a mouth-watering and soft delicacy that you can serve with cold cuts. If it’s not asparagus season, replace them with zucchini, artichokes, leek, carrots or cherry tomatoes.
Another quiche with a strong and enveloping taste is made with spinach, mushrooms and Fontina cheese. Do not overfill the quiche and, if you want to portion it beforehand, wait for it to cool down before cutting it up. A beautiful slice of quiche is the perfect way to celebrate delicious Italian cheeses and it’s a treat for the eyes, too!
Salads and pasta salads: everything tastes better with cheese
It wouldn’t be a great picnic without a salad. Salads are light and fresh, of course, but they can be flavourful, too, thanks to cheese. Cheese can turn even the plainest salad into an interesting dish.
Quartirolo cheese, which is soft and light, is ideal for a summer dish. Try it with watermelon, cucumber, celery, onions from Tropea and black olives and let me know what you think of this perfect flavour combination! I know that it may seem weird, but even though they taste different, these ingredients create a perfect marriage of flavours.
For another delicious salad idea, you need spelt, Pecorino Toscano cheese, sundried tomatoes, rocket salad and one drop of balsamic vinegar. And what about a nice pasta salad? A classic is pasta salad with pesto, green beans and potatoes, but if you want to try a more original combination, I would suggest pasta with bell pepper sauce and dices of aged Ricotta cheese.
Savoury biscuits, breadsticks and snacks
Savoury cheese snacks go hand in hand with cold cuts and salads, but they are also delicious on their own. Parmigiano Reggiano cheese biscuits, for instance, are extremely easy to make and to carry around. They have one problem, though: they are extremely addictive!
They are very quick to make: just mix the same amount of butter, flour and grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, stir well, stretch out the dough, cut the dough with a biscuit cutter, bake the biscuits for 10 minutes at 180°C and they are ready! You can decorate them with poppy seeds, almond flakes, cumin or black salt and they are a treat for the palate, as well as for the eyes!
Let’s move on to breadsticks cacio e pepe (cheese and pepper). The amazing namesake pasta dish from Rome has gotten itself a new look, but the flavour has stayed the same! Flour, yeast, water, oil, Pecorino romano cheese and black pepper (ideally, freshly ground): that’s all the ingredients you need.
If you don’t have a lot of time, don’t worry, you can use the ready-to-use puff pastry. Savoury snacks with Asiago cheese are easy and quick to make. Stretch out a rectangular puff pastry, cover it with Asiago cheese slices, roll it up and cut it into slices; then bake it for 20 minutes at 200 °C and it’s ready.
Here you have some easy and quick ideas to make the best of our cheeses in the event of a picnic. That’s because Italian cheeses are actual gems of our cuisine and are ideal to make both traditional, hearty and complicated recipes and fresh and light dishes. Overlooking this culinary treasure would be a real pity! So, prepare your picnic baskets and blanket, a picnic full of cheese is awaiting you!