Photographed by Lauren Volo
In Italy, pecorino is the general term for sheep’s milk cheeses (pecora means “sheep” in Italian). Within that designation there are many, many varieties—some are great for shaving onto salads, pasta, or risotto, while others are ideal as everyday table cheeses. The textures and flavors of the rich wheels range from supple, floral, and nutty (younger Pecorino Toscano from Tuscany) to aged, firm, and salty (Pecorino Romano from Rome). Here, we’ve explored the cooking possibilities of these two Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) cheeses, as well as a beautiful balsamic-and-juniper-rubbed pecorino ginepro and a fragrant, crumbly pecorino al tartufo.
1. Olive Oil Poached Artichokes
Don’t be scared by the prep required for these artichokes—it’s worth the effort. A gentle infusion of white wine, olive oil, and herbs give the seasonal thistles a lovely depth of flavor, and the pecorino ginepro adds richness.
2. Bucatini with Bitter Greens
Assertive Pecorino Romano stands up to the strong flavors of this dish—bitter greens, mouth-puckering capers, and savory anchovies.
3. Steak and Potatoes with Dandelion Green Pesto
This classic pairing gets a spring twist with the addition of slightly astringent dandelion green pesto made robust with Pecorino Romano. Each rib-eye steak should feed two people.
4. Spring Truffle Risotto
Streaked with truffle, pecorino al tartufo tastes like browned butter and smells like the woods on a wet day. This indulgent risotto, lightened with springtime staples peas and fava beans, is a vehicle for the fragrant cheese.
5. Arugula Sunchoke Salad
Oil roasted sunchokes add sophistication to this simple salad. Gently sweet, they’re nestled in a bed of spicy arugula and dressed with a lemony vinaigrette. Young Pecorino Toscano shaved over the top balances the bright flavors with a nutty richness.