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A trio of picnic recipes with Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

Parmigiano Reggiano withstands a bit of wear and tear, making it ideal for picnics and eating outdoors. Here are three ways to use this iconic cheese

Parmigiano Reggiano picnic recipes: a wedge of parmesan

There's no disputing it: cheese is one of our favourite foods. Whether we're eating it on a cheese board, in a sandwich, grating it over our pasta or nibbling it at a picnic, cheese has an enduring, delicious appeal. And, it seems, it always has done – especially Parmigiano Reggiano, the iconic cheese whose roots stretch back almost 1,000 years.

But Parmigiano Reggiano is more than just a cheese – it's a way of life in some in the specific area in northern Italy where Parmigiano Reggiano is made. For all its sharp, umami-laden flavour that’s loved by millions, its production remains on a much more authentic, artisanal scale than you might imagine. 

One of the reasons why Parmigiano Reggiano has stood the test of time – aside from its incredible flavours – is that from its beginnings in the Middle Ages, it has always been made to last and to travel well.

Its ability to maintain its quality after long journeys saw its popularity grow across Italy and Europe. Nearly 1,000 years later, when we’re about to go into a second summer of picnics and eating outdoors, this makes Parmigiano Reggiano the ideal addition to your social occasions, whether they're in your garden or in the park.

As we head into a second summer of outdoor eating, here are three recipes ideas on how to use this unique cheese.

Parmigiano Reggiano roast potato salad with parsley, egg and caper dressing

There's a delicious simplicity to this roast potato salad, with its dual use of finely grated and shaved Parmigiano Reggiano

Parmigiano Reggiano picnic recipes: roast potato salad

Serves 2

Preparation time 20

Cooking time 50 mins

Ingredients

  • 500g small potatoes, halved
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbsp capers, rinsed and drained
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 handfuls mixed salad leaves
  • 70g Parmigiano Reggiano, half finely grated, half shaved

For the dressing:

  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1½ tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp wholegrain mustard
  • Pinch of sugar

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C.
  2. Put the potatoes into a roasting tin and add the olive oil, tossing to coat. Season with sea salt and black pepper, then roast until brown and crispy.
  3. Meanwhile, hard-boil the eggs, then cool them in cold water. Shell and chop them finely. Combine them with the capers and parsley.
  4. Arrange the mixed salad leaves on two serving plates and share the potatoes between them. Sprinkle with the grated Parmigiano Reggiano, then top with the egg and caper mixture.
  5. Mix together the olive oil, vinegar and mustard and add a pinch of sugar, salt and pepper. Drizzle over the salads and finish off with the Parmigiano Reggiano shavings.

A warm salad of spicy carrots, lentils, Parmigiano Reggiano wafers and flaked almonds

Spicy carrots and lentils make this a seriously satisfying salad, crowned with wafers of Parmigiano Reggiano

Serves 4

Preparation time 10 mins

Cooking time 45 mins

Ingredients

For the carrots:

  • 8 carrots
  • Olive oil
  • Cumin seeds
  • Sweet paprika
  • Ground cinnamon
  • Salt
  • Pepper

For the lentils:

  • 250g cooked lentils
  • 1 garlic clove
  • Fresh thyme
  • 40g flaked almonds
  • Oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper

For the wafers:

  • 4 tablespoons of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, grated

Method

  1. Peel the carrots with a potato peeler. If very large cut into halves or quarters. Place them on a tray lined with baking paper and drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper Bake in a preheated oven at 180°C for 25-30 minutes, turning them over. Sprinkle with cumin, a pinch of cinnamon and sweet paprika.
  2. Prepare the Parmigiano Reggiano wafers: cut out baking paper square and place a tablespoon of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese in the middle of each one. Using the back of a spoon press the cheese into a circle and place one sheet of paper at a time in the microwave oven and heat at maximum power setting for 1 minute, just until the Parmigiano Reggiano cheese starts to melt. Take them out and let them cool. Gently peel off the baking paper.
  3. Heat the oil in a pan with the garlic, cook until golden and then remove it. Add the lentils and thyme and cook them for a few minutes. Adjust the seasoning.
  4. Place a layer of lentils in a serving dish, arrange the carrots on top and serve with the Parmigiano Reggiano cheese slivers, the almonds (roasted in a pan with no fat) and the thyme.

Parmigiano Reggiano, garlic and parsley tear-and-share flatbread

Hearty, hardy and satisfying, this tear-and-share flatbread makes for an ideal picnic dish

Serves 8

Preparation time 30 mins

Cooking time 20 mins

Ingredients

  • 500g white bread flour, plus extra for sprinkling
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp caster sugar
  • 1 rounded tsp easy-blend yeast
  • 300ml warm water
  • 40g butter, softened
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
  • 80g Parmigiano Reggiano, finely grated
  • Parmigiano Reggiano shavings and extra parsley, for sprinkling
  • Extra, to serve: Parmigiano Reggiano chunks, thyme sprigs, olives, roasted peppers and anything you fancy

Method

  1. Tip the flour into a large bowl and stir in the salt, sugar and yeast. Pour in the olive oil and water and mix with your hand, then bring the dough together.
  2. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead vigorously for 10 minutes. Transfer to a large lightly oiled bowl and cover with a clean cloth. Stand in a warm place and leave to rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
  3. Turn the dough out onto a surface sprinkled with a little flour and knead it lightly for 1 minute. Divide into 2 equal pieces. Roll out into circles measuring approximately 30x30cm. Lift onto 2 large lightly oiled baking sheets. Leave in a warm place for 20-30 minutes to rise.
  4. Mix together the butter, crushed garlic, chopped parsley and grated Parmigiano Reggiano. Spread over the flatbreads.
  5. Preheat the oven to 200°C. Bake the flatbreads for 20-25 minutes until golden brown. Serve warm, topped with Parmigiano Reggiano shavings and extra parsley, accompanied by Parmigiano Reggiano chunks, thyme sprigs, olives, roasted peppers, etc.

Cook's tip: Cool and freeze one of the flatbreads to serve another day.

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