There’s a reason Manchego is a staple bar bite of Spain’s late-night dining scene. The semi-soft sheep’s milk cheese, hailing from Don Quixote’s home of La Mancha, is as iconic amongst Spaniards as the Cervantes novel itself. The grass-molded zigzag rind encases a moist, semi-firm paste, whose sour, grassy flavor happens to pair splendidly with a glass of Jerez.
In true Spanish tradition, we’ve tried it in pintxo form with anchovies and roasted red pepper. We’ve also indulged our inner child and stuck it in grilled cheese with fig jam and prosciutto. Food & Wine recommends shaving it into a frittata along with potatoes and scallions.
But, may we argue that Manchego might be best stripped bare with just a few complementary ingredients? For a quick and simple appetizer, get your hands on some high-quality Manchego, dice it into chunks, and marinate it in olive oil and herbs. Blogger It’s Not You, It’s Brie suggests using a supple, semi-firm variety for maximum soakage:
You can substitute any lovely sheep’s milk cheese you’d like- just focus on finding a semi-firm, 4-8 month-old cheese. I like using one that hasn’t been heavily pressed and whose paste might have a hole or two. Then the olive oil can sink into its grooves like melted butter does into a crumpet’s.
Photo by It’s Not You, It’s Brie