Each week in Food and Party, we'll be featuring an "Ingredient of the Week"—paying homage to some of our favorite ingredients all week long with buying and storage tips, recipes, and other useful information.
This week's special ingredient is: Parmesan Cheese.
Some of you may be wondering why I choose Parmesan Cheese as the very first featured ingredient. The answer is simple: I love cheese. I could subsist only on cheese for the rest of my life and never, ever complain. I like so many different cheeses that it's hard to focus on just one, but I finally settled on Parmesan because it is the most frequently used cheese in our house.
The funny thing about Parmesan is that it means different things to different people. According to my mom, Parmesan comes pre-grated in a bright green can. But to my Italian grandmother, Parmesan is a massive hunk of hard, straw-colored cheese that you always have on hand to freshly grate over whatever it is that you are eating. I tend to side with Grandma on this one.
(And speaking of Italy, a foodie friend of my swears that when eating pasta in Italy, it's considered a faux pas to request MORE Parmesan cheese to sprinkle over top: You should just trust that the chef has already added the correct amount. Which makes me wonder why Italian restaurants here in the states always offer customers additional fresh Parmesan? I digress...)
Parmesan cheese has become a staple in our house, and we always have a wedge in the fridge. It's not the cheapest thing on our grocery list, but we try to look for the inexpensive brands at the grocery store (about $5 for an 8 oz. wedge), and that tend to get us through many, many meals.
Why do we use it some much? Because with a drizzle of olive oil, it's an easy way to dress up ordinary pasta, salads, soups—whatever you are eating that you want to be a little more special, a little more decadent.
Do you eat Parmesan from the can or grate your own?