Today's tip

Grana Padano is another cornerstone product of the Italian culinary tradition and is an extremely versatile cheese in the kitchen.

One of the most popular cheeses of Italy, its name comes from the noun grana (“grain”), which refers to the crumbly, grainy quality of the cheese. Padano refers to the lush valley around the river Po. Made in the regions of Piedmont, Lombardy, and Veneto, and in the province of Trento, it comes in rounds weighing around forty to fifty pounds with a pale yellow rind. The triangular logo of the Grana Padano seal is embossed on the rind. The embossments on the rind of the Grana Padano wheel of cheese hold special significance. The quality mark “Grana Padano” certifies the cheese is perfect and acceptable as Grana Padano. Without this mark, the cheese cannot be sold as Grana Padano and might be sold at a lower cost.

The sought after qualities of the Grana Padano is its complex, but mild milky flavor and the crunchy texture. It is a cheese that is extremely versatile in the kitchen. It is a delicious cheese to eat in chunks with fruit or bread but is also used to dress pasta, risotto and soups. Every crumb of this cheese is useful-even the rinds, if washed and scrubbed, add lots of flavor when tossed into a perking minestra or other soup.

Traditionally Grana Padano was kept wrapped in a damp cloth inside the refrigerator. It can be stored wrapped in cellophane paper to retain its aroma and flavor.