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‘Tis the Season: Herbs and Cheese

Creamy bocconcini (mini mozzarella balls), pickled sour cherries, herbacious basil, and salty prosciutto alternated on bamboo skewers

In one last tribute to summer, let us celebrate the fact that we still have fresh herbs at our disposal, and start sprinkling them on top of our favorite cheeses! As far as cheese pairings go, herbs are a pretty forgiving companion. If the cheese is high-quality and the herbs are fresh, you really can’t go too wrong with any combination. 

But if you’re looking to really treat your palate, you’ll want to keep a no-fail herb and cheese cheat sheet on hand. As when pairing wines or beers with cheese, matching delicate with delicate and hearty and hearty is a good rule of thumb when it comes to cheese and herbs. For example, you might toss bright leafy herbs into a salad with fresh, tangy cheeses, or stuff some earthy, fried sage into a cheddar-filled grilled cheese. Below, find some delicious recipes to set you off on your herby cheese endeavors. Try ‘em out, and you’ll be a seasoned expert in no time.

Chèvre and Dill

Don’t worry, it’s not too late in the season to enjoy this springy combo. Spreading chèvre across toast with lox and dill will do just fine, but for a meal that gives comfort food a refreshing edge, try this Smoked Salmon, Dill, and Goat Cheese Quiche from Simply Recipes. One of our favorite renditions of chèvre and dill is a topping for crab cakes — or even better, our Crab Burgers with Dill Chèvre and Arugula.

Cotija and Cilantro

These two ingredients are known for adding flair to your favorite Mexican dishes — so if you’re using one, you’ll probably want the other to make the whole meal really come to life. This recipe for Cotija Topped Corn with Chile, Lime, and Cilantro from The Latin Kitchen uses a handful of flavorful toppings to make a summertime barbecue staple even brighter. Looking for something more shareable? Blend cotija and cilantro atop crispy, salty plantain chips in our inventive take on nachos.

Feta and Oregano

Tame the bite of briny feta with a generous dose of woodsy oregano. This recipe for a Feta Oregano Salad from 101 Cookbooks combines the flavors in a simple dish best enjoyed outside, picnic style. For a more substantial dinner, use the duo to lend roast chicken a Mediterranean edge, as per this recipe from Food & Wine, or go the beef route and marinate sirloin in oil, garlic, and herbs, and top with creamy lebneh feta raita in our recipe for beef kebabs.

Mozzarella and Basil

We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the holy grail of the cheese-and-herb pairings, milky mozzarella and fresh basil. Hopefully you’ve been celebrating summer with weekly caprese salads, but for a new twist on this classic combo, try stuffing mozzarella and basil into wonton wrappers. This recipe for Fresh Mozzarella and Basil bites from Return to Sunday Supper transforms the ingredients into crispy, gooey appetizers. For another take on caprese salad, try our Walk Around Caprese or Bocconcini & Pickled Cherry Skewers, which both turn salad into one quick bite arranged on a toothpick — perfect for parties. 

Cheddar and Sage

When pairing herbs with hard cheeses like cheddar, you want something thick and flavorful that won’t get lost amidst the strong flavors of the cheese. Rich, earthy sage is the perfect complement to cheddar’s sweet, nutty notes — especially when the two are fused together in bite-sized baked goods, are they are in this recipe for Apple, Sage, and Cheddar Biscuits from A Thought for Food. Looking for a main dish to wow a crowd? Annie Somerville’s Butternut Squash Gratin with Poblano Chilies, Cheddar, & Fromage Blanc Custard marries cheddar, sage, and a whole lot more in one bubbling dish.

 

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