This September, our menus will showcase Italian ingredients central to the Mediterranean Diet. Renowned for their health-giving properties, you’ll find these nourishing ingredients in many of our dishes.
For the second week of Mediterranean Month, we’re honouring one of Italy’s best-loved ingredients, cheese. From tangy Pecorino and Parmigiano Reggiano to creamy burrata, Italy’s love affair with formaggio is an enduring one.
Our menu this week has enjoyed a cheesy makeover, featuring iconic dishes like cacio e pepe, as well as star ingredients like Pecorino, scamorza and ricotta. Rich in calcium and protein, our menu pays homage to this invigorating ingredient, central to the Mediterranean diet. Buon appetito.
Cheese in the Mediterranean Diet
Cheesemaking in Italy was already established by the time of the Ancient Romans, though they also gorged on expensive foreign cheeses. An early version of Pecorino Romano, for instance, can be traced in the writing of Pliny the Elder and Varro, around 2,000 years ago. By the Middle Ages, impoverished farmers looked to cheese as an abundant and nutritious food source. Apennine Shepherds used ceramic milk boilers to create fresh ricotta, a calcium-rich means of sustenance for long days spent herding their flock. To this day, Italians still cherish formaggio, preserving the artisan traditions of cheesemaking - caseifici in Puglia still make fresh burrata well into the twilight hours.
What cheese is enjoyed as part of the Mediterranean Diet?
Scamorza hails from sunny Campania. Scamorza belongs to the ‘Pasta Filata’ family of cheese, in which curds are stretched in hot water, resulting in a delightfully stringy and elastic cheese. The distinct pear-shaped cheese earns its name from its production process, in which the formed scamorza is hanged and left to ripen for around 2 weeks. Somewhat barbarically, then, in Southern Italy, ‘scamorza’ roughly translates to “beheaded” - a nod to the hanging of the cheese. High in protein, when unsmoked this cheese has a flavour not dissimilar to mozzarella, though is stronger in taste.
Try it for yourself
Courgette & Scamorza Ravioli with Amalfi Lemon Butter & Taralli Crumb (Vegetarian)
Pecorino is a sharp, hard Italian cheese derived from Sheep’s milk. The word "pecorino" literally means "ovine" or "of sheep" in the native tongue. Pecorino boasts a long and established history, too - for over two thousand years, the flocks of native sheep that graze freely in the verdant pastures of Lazio and Sardinia’s countryside have produced the milk that forms the base of the cheese. Pecorino was so adored amongst Romans that the cheese was even rationed, and prescribed to Roman Legionaries. Just 27 grams of this nourishing ingredient was deemed enough to restore the strength of Roman fighters - though this is not entirely surprising, given the cheese is rich in protein, calcium and vitamin B6.
Try it for yourself
Pecorino & Truffle Triangoli with Truffle Butter & Hazelnuts
Rome's "Cacio e Pepe" Cheese Sauce with Pici
Malloreddus with Sausage Ragù & Pecorino Cream
Adored for its buttery consistency and light, milky flavour, burrata is forged by the deft hands of artisan cheese makers located in Puglia. The thin, outer membrane of the cheese is formed from delicate mozzarella, which houses a decadent interior of soft stracciatella cheese and cream. A relatively modern invention in Italy’s culinary history, burrata was first formed on the Bianchini farm in Puglia, in the early 20th century. By the 1950s, resourceful local cheese manufacturers popularized the cheese, producing burrata as a useful way to use up the ritagli, or scraps left over from the mozzarella making process. Consumed in moderation by Mediterranean natives, this decadent cheese is rich in calcium, vitamins B1 and B2.
Try it for yourself
‘Nduja Sausage & Burrata Tortelloni with a Sage Butter Sauce
At Pasta Evangelists, we bring a taste of Italy to your kitchen. Prepared using the freshest ingredients, our gourmet pasta dishes are perfect for those looking to enjoy restaurant-quality meals, delivered to your door, and ready in under five minutes. Order from our weekly menu today, and we’ll offer you 25% off your first delivery - simply enter the code BLOG25 at checkout.
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