Smoked duck breast salad with Grana Padano sauce, hazelnuts and bonito

Five of our favourite Grana Padano recipes

by Great Italian Chefs 12 October 2017

Grana Padano is one of Italy's best-loved cheeses, and a mainstay of Italian pantries all over the country, not just in the north where it is produced. Although all Grana Padano is made by the same rigorous method, the flavour varies massively depending how long the cheese has been aged for.

Great Italian Chefs is a team of passionate food-lovers dedicated to bringing you the latest news, views and reviews from the gastronomic mecca that is Italy.

Great Italian Chefs is a team of food lovers dedicated to bringing you the latest news, views and reviews from the gastronomic mecca that is Italy. From Veneto and Lombardy in the north to Calabria and Sicily in the south, we celebrate the very best of this glorious cuisine and try to bring you a little bit of la dolce vita wherever you are.

Italian food without cheese is unthinkable, and Grana Padano is one of our absolute favourites for its firm texture and depth of flavour.

Italians have been making Grana Padano for nearly a thousand years now – the first records of the cheese go all the way back to 1135, when it was made by monks at Chiaravalle Abbey in the Po Valley – and todays product is PDO-protected, and strictly regulated. It takes 1,000 litres of cow's milk to make just two wheels of Grana Padano, and the wheels must be aged at least nine months before they can be sold. These cheeses are delicately nutty and creamy in flavour – perfect for grating over dishes – but as Grana Padano ages, it gains a more prominent savoury flavour that works well in soups and risottos, as well as on cheeseboards.

1. White asparagus with Grana Padano aioli

Rosana McPhee's Grana Padano aioli sounds complex, but it's really simple to make, and a beautiful way of demonstrating the extra complexity and tang of sixteen-month matured Grana Padano. Rosana peels and steams her white asparagus, and grinds garlic and salt to a paste, before blending with the rest of the ingredients to create the aioli. Add a sprinkle of chives and a lovely piece of crusty bread, and you have a delightful starter.

2. Savoury Grana Padano biscotti

At the mention of biscotti, our minds normally drift to almonds and pistachios and sweet, crunchy biscuit dough. Valeria Necchio's Grana Padano biscotti are a rather different beast. Valeria makes her biscotti dough with Grana Padano, salted almonds and polenta for extra crunch, before applying the classic double bake, and serving them with aperitivo.

3. Veal schnitzel with Grana Padano sauce

Rosana's second Grana Padano recipe takes a rather meatier approach, and pairs a tangy sauce with a chunky piece of veal schnitzel. The extra mature Grana Padano Riserva that Rosana uses for her sauce has an intense, tangy flavour that perfectly complements the veal, which she coats in breadcrumbs and shallow fries until beautifully golden and crisp.

4. Grana Padano and pickled onion barley risotto

At Root in Bristol, Josh Eggleton is championing vegetarian food above all else, and his risotto is a perfect example of combining simple ingredients and making something delicious. Josh's recipe looks complex, but each of the steps is very straight-forward – he makes a base of roasted garlic and shallot, adds toasted barley, and gradually adds stock until cooked with a bite. Garnish with pickled onions, onion rings, Grana Padano and chives, and hey presto – a delicious homely supper.

5. Smoked duck breast salad with Grana Padano sauce

Cristina Bowerman's incredible smoked duck breast salad draws on her unique blend of influences from all over the world, combining cured meats, bonito flakes, hazelnuts and Grana Padano sauce and honeyed figs. Cristina uses classic methods for her cheese sauce, making a white sauce and then melting in Grana Padano, before drizzling over the top other salad to create a truly impressive dinner party starter.