At Plated, we love food, period. But, there’s one ingredient in particular that makes our hearts melt, and it’s cheese. Fun fact: We send over 20 different varieties of cheese in our recipes, giving our chefs a plethora of options to enhance their dishes, whether they’re looking for something creamy or crumbly, fresh or melty. In fact, sometimes the abundance of excellent choices makes selecting the right cheese a challenge, which is where some basic dairy knowledge comes into play. Read on to learn more about a few of our chefs’ favorite Plated cheeses, the flavors that define them, and their best-matched pairings.
You may know this cheese for its eye-catching blue marbling, but it doesn’t just look good—the special (and delicious) type of mold, known as penicillium, contributes to the cheese’s spicy, salty, earthy flavors. Our chefs love pairing it with rich, sweet flavors, like those in our Blue Cheese–Caramelized Onion Pizza, as well as in rich meat dishes, like in the salad accompanying our Pan-Roasted Pork Chop with Pear–Brown Butter Sauce. Gorgonzola, Stilton Danish blue, and Roquefort are all varieties of blue cheese.
Brie cheese is easy to identify by its white rind, known as a “bloomy” rind for its pale color and delicate texture. It’s not just for show, though—this outer coating also contributes to the cheese’s classic, rich flavors of mushroom and butter. It pairs well with similar flavors, like rich pie crusts and buttery breads, as well as salty meats and sweet jams (basically, all the good stuff). Try it in our Fontina and Brie Grilled Cheese—the rich, gooey cheese is a perfect match for both the sweet compote and tangy dressing.
“There isn’t a cheese I don’t like,” says Plated Chef Shanna, “but one of my favorites is burrata.” The Italian cow’s milk cheese has a gooey interior that oozes as soon as it’s cut, giving a saucy, cheesy quality to any dish (think Plated fav Fresh Spaghetti with Tomato Sauce and Burrata). But, as Shanna points out, one of the best things to pair with it is absolutely nothing. “Little needs to be done to it,” she says. “Just let it shine.”
Feta is one of the world’s oldest cheeses, and it’s stood the test of time for good reason. The Greek specialty is traditionally comprised of sheep and goat’s milk, giving it a rich, creamy texture, and is cured in brine to give it its signature salty, lemony flavors. It also happens to be one of Chef Elana’s favorite cheeses, and a go-to pairing for salads. “It pairs perfectly with fresh, crunchy vegetables and a light vinaigrette,” she says. (Looking for just the recipe? Check out the Greek Salad in our Pork Keftedes.)
Chef Michelle also loves feta, especially in its larger, block form, because of its ability to make a weeknight meal feel instantly special. “It can be marinated, baked, or crumbled over the top of any dish,” she says. (Never tried baked feta? You’re missing out—check out our Crispy Chickpea Bowls with Harissa-Baked Feta for inspiration).
Goat’s milk cheeses are often snowy white in color with a classically tangy, lemony flavor. Chef Liz loves the creamy texture it lends to any dish. “I like to put it on cold salads with warm chicken, so that the cheese warms up a bit and gets a little melty,” she says. Because it’s often on the milder side, goat cheese pairs well with fresh flavors that won’t overpower it. It’s ideal in salads, like our springy Chicken, Radish, and Pea Salad.
Salty, nutty, and rich, Parmesan is a staple in the Plated Test Kitchen, and one of Chef Elana’s personal favorites. “I always have Parmesan in the fridge— both grated and in block form,” she says. “The grated Parmesan is perfect for adding to pastas, and the block is ideal for shaving over salads or breaking into chunks on a cheese board.” Its uses are practically endless, but we love it in our Skillet Grandma Pie, where we use it in two ways: both sprinkled over the pizza and in the kale salad. Double the Parm = double the deliciousness.
You might have noticed that Gruyère is a popular choice for fondue, gratin, and grilled cheese—but why? The curds are actually gently cooked during the cheesemaking process, making the finished product super smooth and ideal for melting. Its nutty flavor often takes on a rich, meaty quality, adding extra decadence to dishes like our Duck Sliders with Caramelized Onion Sauce.
Rich, buttery Manchego cheese hails from the La Mancha region of Spain. Made from sheep’s milk, its nutty, slightly sweet flavor makes it an ideal match for pairings like honey, fruit jam, and almonds. Or like, I don’t know—our Manchego-Mushroom Panini with Fig Jam and Arugula. Yeah, I’ll have that, please.
We’re not talking about the pre-shredded grocery store variety, though that also has a time and place. Fresh mozzarella is one of Chef Giuseppe’s favorite cheeses—the mild, stretchy Italian cheese is one of the most versatile around. “My favorite way to eat it is plain, with a little olive oil, salt and pepper, and fresh basil,” he says, “but you can also use it in a Caprese salad, to top stuffed peppers or lasagna, or in a pizza.” Or in our Gnocchi Pomodoro with Butternut Squash, Basil, and Fresh Mozzarella—just sayin’.
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