Piave cheese salad

Food books rely greatly on the contributions of others and to get to grips with Italian cheeses I have recently enlisted the support of Antonio Maurizio Gaetani and the folk at Gastronomica – specifically, Joseph Tchikou, the manager at the Borough Market stall in London. He’s an Italian speaking Scot of Russian descent. The owner, Marco Vineis, hails from Piedmont – and that region is particularly well represented in their cheese selection.

Piave cheese has been this week’s discovery for me. It comes from the Veneto – more specifically the Val Visdende in the Dolomites; so it’s an Alpine cheese. It’s often compared to Parmigiano Reggiano, but the texture is not as granular, it is sweeter, and has an intense nutty, almost floral flavour. It’s a fantastic cheese in its own right, not a Parmesan imitation.

Besides serving it up on a cheese board, I reckon it’s a dressing cheese. This is Joe’s expression and he means adding cheese at the last minute to add umami oomph to a dish. So once could add shavings to polenta, or toss them through a salad. For example:

60g mix of salad leaves, including some bitter varieties like radicchio
1 cox apple, cored and finely sliced
handful of hazelnuts, toasted and roughly chopped
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon apple vinegar
½ teaspoon honey
20g Piave cheese, shaved with a potato peeler

Toss the salad leaves with the apple and hazelnuts. Whisk the oil, vinegar and honey together and stir through the salad. Lastly fold in the cheese shavings, scatter a few more on top, and serve.