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Coupled with a rich history and unique flavor profile, asiago cheese is a deliciously versatile and healthy cheese that leaves a lingering aftertaste on your palate.
From smooth and silky to crumbly and brittle, asiago is an excellent choice for all cheese lovers out there.
If you're wondering what asiago cheese tastes like, the answer depends on the type of asiago you're having. There are several varieties of asiago cheese; each is made in a different region in Italy, and has a distinct aging and production period.
Keep reading ahead to find out about the different types of asiago cheese, their unique flavor profiles, and substitutes.
What Is Asiago Cheese?
Asiago is a white or pale-yellow Italian cheese made with whole milk, and can be either fresh or aged.
The origins of asiago dates back to the Middle Ages, where it was first produced in Asiago in Lombardy, located in the northern-central region of Italy. Back then, it was produced with sheep's milk, but cow's milk became the norm with time.
Asiago is still made following the traditional practices in the same region to give the authentic taste of Italy's specialty cheese.
The milk from both cows is blended and heated with rennet, a type of enzyme to curdle it. As the curd forms, it is pressed using a cheesecloth to drain excess water and form its shape. It is then wrapped and brined and then aged for 20 to 40 days.
Types Of Asiago Cheese
There are two main types of asiago cheese: asiago pressato or pressed cheese, and asiago d'Allevo, which is the ripened or aged version of asiago.
Fresh asiago also goes by asiago fresco or asiago pressato. The fresh variety uses whole and pasteurized cow's milk; from cattle that graze both highlands and lowlands of the Asiago plateau.
Fresh asiago is creamy and milky. It is a semi-soft cheese with a mild, sweet, and buttery flavor. Fresh asiago can be eaten as is, melted on pasta, or eaten as a snack with crackers.
Similarly, asiago d'Allevo is an off-white hard cheese with a crumbly texture. It has a sharper and more pronounced flavor due to aging.
The extra-aged variety is sharper and harder and is characteristically yellow. d'Allevo is made using various kinds of milk, including cow, sheep, and goat. The cheese is aged for at least 6 months before being packaged for consumption.
Is Asiago A Hard Cheese?
Asiago is mild flavored and can be semi-soft to hard, depending on how long it has aged.
Asiago d'Allevo is a hard cheese with a crumbly granular texture. This particular type of asiago is further categorized into three types according to the aging process. Asiago mezzano is aged from 4 to 6 months, asiago Vecchio is aged from 10 to 16 months, and asiago stravecchio is aged 15 or more months.
The longer the cheese ages, the sharper, harder, and more robust the flavor and texture gets. Stravecchio is the most intense and pungent of all the three kinds of cheeses when aged.
What Does Asiago Cheese Taste Like?
Asiago cheese has a characteristically sweet and mildly nutty taste. However, the flavors develop as it ages, getting sharper, more intense, and piquant.
As it matures, the cheese develops a slightly acidic and tangy undertone and a fruity appeal. The scent of the cheese is aromatic, with a floral smell that gets deeper with maturity.
What Is Asiago Used For?
Sliced asiago can be used in hot and cold sandwiches and paninis. It can be melted on pasta and pizza for a melty, gooey element.
Since younger asiago melts well, this variety works best with these dishes, including casseroles. It can also make for a delicious dip.
You can also serve asiago with crackers or bread and plate it on a cheese board. The harder, aged asiago is typically shaved or grated and used on salads, soups, or sauces.
How Is Asiago Pronounced?
Asiago is pronounced as"ah-see-aa-gow." The cheese originates from the town of Asiago, where monks first produced this cheese with sheep's milk in the 16th century.
Asiago Cheese Nutrition
Asiago cheese doesn’t only taste great; it also carries several health benefits.
A 100g serving of asiago cheese consists of 25 grams of protein and 17.9 grams of fatty acids — aka, the good fat — per Food Data Central. It is also loaded with nutrients like calcium, zinc, magnesium, phosphorus, and vitamins A and B12, which can help improve your bone health, eyesight, and skin health.
Perhaps the best part about this cheese is that lactose-intolerant folk can easily fill up asiago since it contains only a small amount of dairy.
Folks who want to reduce their salt intake should limit their intake of asiago cheese since it is high in sodium.
Asiago Vs. Parmesan
Asiago and parmesan cheese both have Italian origins and look pretty similar.
Parmesan and asiago d'Allevo are hard cheeses produced from cow's milk. They are both a creamy pale-yellow or straw-yellow color that intensify as they age. While parmesan and asiago can be used interchangeably in many recipes, their flavor profiles aren’t similar.
Asiago cheese is buttery, nutty, and creamy, more so than Parmigiano Reggiano. Depending on the type used, it can also taste spicy and bitter.
Parmesan, conversely, has a complex and sharp flavor profile with hints of umami. The cheese also consists of fruity, earthy undertones and is slightly tangy.
There is also a difference in the aging time of each cheese. While parmesan is typically aged 12 to 36 months, asiago cheese is aged for 2 to 18 months.
Asiago Cheese Substitutes
If you can’t get your hands on asiago cheese, there are plenty of asiago alternatives that have a similar flavor profile. Here are a few of the best substitutes.
Parmesan - Parmesan is a good substitute for asiago cheese. You can also opt for grana Padano, gruyere cheese, or even manchego cheese.
Grana Padano - Grana Padano is a hard Italian cheese that can work well as an affordable substitute for asiago cheese. It is made from skimmed cow's milk and comprises a mild flavor profile. The best part about grana padano is that it has a crumbly texture, which makes it a great option for grating over salads, pasta, and soups.
Gruyere - Gruyere cheese is another excellent substitute for asiago. Incredibly versatile, gruyere works well in both sweet and savory dishes due to its nutty, creamy, and lightly salty flavor profile. As it ages, the cheese develops earthy undertones with a sharper and grassier taste.
Manchego - A cheese with Spanish origins, Manchego, is made using sheep's milk. It has a creamy texture and a pleasantly sharp flavor with a salty aftertaste. Manchego comes in two forms, soft or hard, making it the perfect substitute for asiago and its varieties.
Fresh asiago or asiago pressato tends to melt well, which makes them a perfect component for pizza, pasta, and burgers. Hard and aged asiago has a crumbly and hard texture that works well when used in salads or presented on cheese boards.
Fresh asiago varieties are made using pasteurized cow's milk. However, they may also be produced using unpasteurized milk. Make sure you read the packaging label to confirm.
Aged asiago has a more sharp and more robust flavor with spicy undertones.
Asiago cheese is typically available at local grocery stores or supermarkets in the dairy or cheese aisle.
Asiago cheese is best used in sandwiches like grilled cheese sandwiches, pizzas, and pasta. You can also grate the cheese and use it in your salads.
More food facts
- ½ cup asiago cheese grated
- ½ cup mayonnaise
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 1 baguette loaf sliced
- Preheat oven broiler. Line a baking sheet with foil.
- In a bowl, mix together mayonnaise, cheese, garlic powder, and Italian seasoning.
- Spread mixture on top of bread slices. Place on prepared baking sheet.
- Broil for 3-4 minutes or until toasted.