Benjamin Franklin once said “Wine is constant proof that God loves us and loves to see us happy”. I would take the liberty of also adding to that quote cheese as a source of happiness, particularly when that cheese is a fresh, seasoned and delicious Asiago Pdo.
Hailing from the Asiago plateau in the region of Vicenza, Italy, this unmistakable cheese has been in production for thousands of years and is ranked among my favorites, whether fresh or seasoned; enjoyed on its own or cooked up into a delectable dish.
An authentic Asiago carries the designation Pdo (Protected Designation of Origin, or DOP in Italian, standing for Denominazione di Origine Protetta). This is the best guarantee of excellence in a European agri-food product and in the case of Asiago cheese, it indicates that the product’s qualities come principally from the geographical environment in which it is made, including natural and human factors, and that its production, processing and preparation take place exclusively in the area of origin. This means that only cheese which is produced, matured, packaged and distributed in compliance with the Asiago DOP Cheese Production Regulations is “Asiago” cheese.
Asiago Pdo is recognized by the markings and the quality seals that are stamped on the side of the cheese along with the identification number of the whole cheese, the number of the dairy and the Pdo logo. Looking for these identifiers guarantees a healthy, wholesome, and above all authentic product.
I recently had the opportunity to work with a delectable block of Asiago Fresh Pdo to create several appetizing dishes. Fresh Asiago differs from seasoned in that it matures for a period from 20 to 40 days, and has a milky flavor and buttery smell. It is white or a very pale straw color with an eye formation that is marked and irregular. It is a soft, delicate cheese that melts on the tongue and pairs wonderfully with honey, berries and light white wine. It also lends itself beautifully to a myriad of uses.
After enjoying the creamy taste of the cheese simply on its own, I proceeded to use it as the base for a rich Asiago and artichoke risotto; an indulgent Asiago, mushroom and Prosecco fettuccine; an appetizing Asiago, Speck and peach roll-up; and a flaky Asiago, basil and heirloom tomato tart. It is a very versatile cheese that pleases the palettes of everyone in my household. Buon Appetito!
Asiago, Basil and Heirloom Tomato Tart
- 1 sheet frozen puff pastry
- 1 cup shredded Asiago fresh Pdo
- 1-2 heirloom tomatoes sliced
- Fresh basil leaves
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the puff pastry into a 16”x10” rectangle. Place the pastry onto a baking sheet lined with parchment and with a sharp knife lightly score the dough 1 inch from the edges. Pierce the dough with a fork and bake for 15 minutes.
- Remove the pastry shell from the oven and sprinkle with the shredded Asiago. Lay the sliced tomatoes and basil leaves over the cheese and season with salt and pepper. Place the tart back in the oven and bake for an additional 15 minutes.