Moliterno cheese is one of the underappreciated gems of Yummy Bazaar’s cheese store assortment. Partially, it’s due to the lesser fame of Moliterno cheese compared to other Italian cheeses; partially, it’s because few, if any, recipes use Moliterno cheese as a default go-to ingredient.
Luckily, both of those circumstances are easily rectified.
If you’ve yet to try Moliterno cheese and want to acquire some initial knowledge before experimenting, this list is a great place to start! We’ve assembled a selection of dishes that are easy to cook even for inexperienced newbie home chefs and do a great job of highlighting this particular cheese’s unique flavor qualities.
On the other hand, if you’re already familiar with Moliterno cheese, hopefully, this list will prompt you to explore its qualities further and serve as an inspiration for new dishes to serve at breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
Now, before we skip to the dishes, let’s spare a few minutes to break down what Moliterno cheese even is and why it deserves a place in your kitchen!
What is Moliterno Cheese?
Moliterno is a hard Italian cheese made with sheep’s milk, originally from Moliterno, a town in the southern Italian region Basilicata. It’s made in a manner similar to Pecorino cheese and is thus sometimes referred to as Pecorino Moliterno or Pecorino di Moliterno (reserved for cheese produced in the town itself).
Nowadays, Moliterno al Tartufo is likely the most popular variety of Moliterno cheese. It’s a type of Pecorino di Moliterno that has been infused with truffles during the aging process. Interestingly, truffles aren’t added to the mix from the beginning. The cheese has to mature for a few months before each individual wheel is checked for texture and flavor qualities. Those that pass the cheesemaker’s muster are injected with freshly grated truffles, creating a distinct stripe pattern in each wheel.
10 Easy Dishes to Elevate with Moliterno Cheese at Home
The sharp and robust but versatile flavor of Moliterno cheese (particularly Moliterno al Tartufo, which has the signature truffle flavor) allows it to swap most other hard Italian cheeses in dishes both simple and complex. The key is not to overuse it (though, honestly, is there really such thing as too much cheese?) and to find the ingredients that balance the flavors best. Sometimes that can even be other, more mellow cheeses!
Assemble a Charcuterie Board and Enjoy it Raw
No surprise here, but flavorful Moliterno makes an excellent ingredient for a charcuterie board. Moliterno al Tartufo is great for these things, but wine-infused Moliterno might work even better in this particular case. Pair with some buttery crackers, flavorful cured meats like salchichon, soppressata, or prosciutto, add an element of sweetness with either honey or your favorite fruit preserve, and you’ve got an ideal bite of Moliterno. A little extra crunch from some almonds or hazelnuts, and you might enter food heaven then and there.
Have a Rich Savory Sandwich
Speaking of enjoying Moliterno raw, sticking it into a sandwich is the easiest and least messy way to do just that. The trick to a good Moliterno sandwich is to be moderate with the amount of cheese you use (I know, the temptation is there, but try!) and to pair it with robustly flavored ingredients that won’t get easily overpowered. Italian cured meats are a classic option for a reason, but if you’re looking for vegetarian alternatives, sauteed mushrooms go particularly well in these types of sandwiches.
Make Flavored Butter
Flavored butter is one of those things that doesn’t seem like a necessity in the kitchen, but once you’ve given it a taste, the dishes just don’t taste the same without it. Blue cheese-flavored butter is a particular favorite among flavored butter connoisseurs, and if you, my friend, have yet to become one - I’ve come to tempt you to the dark side with an even more bougie version of it.
All you’ll need are a stick of unsalted butter, four ounces of shredded Moliterno al Tartufo, a couple of cloves of crushed garlic, and a few springs worth of fresh chopped rosemary and thyme (don’t overdo it, it’s Moliterno-flavored butter first and foremost, not herb butter - even though that, too, is absolutely delicious in its own right).
Have the ingredients warm to room temperature, mesh everything together with a fork, then roll up the butter in plastic wrap to form a log, and chill in the freezer for at least a couple of hours before using it however you deem fit!
Swap the Parmesan Cheese in Mushroom Risotto
Mushroom risotto is a classic beloved Italian dish that can be a bit too complicated for a newbie chef to cook from scratch - but is easy enough to simplify. If you’ve got some rice cooked up beforehand, it can cut down both the cooking time and potential risks of overcooking risotto to mush. On the other hand, it may also lack the characteristic silkiness we love risotto so much for. A hacked risotto needs other ingredients to elevate it tenfold, and that’s where Moliterno comes in! Moliterno al Tartufo, in particular, meshes fantastically with robust meaty mushroom flavors, giving the dish a rich nutty flavor.
And if you take a risk and go with the step-by-step risotto recipe, cooking the appropriate risotto rice to the correct texture? You’ll have a feast fit for gods on your hands.
Make a Mac and Cheese (But Fancy)
Truffles always add an element of fanciness, even if that’s not the Chef’s goal (but, let’s be honest, that is almost always the goal). Mac and Cheese is quite an easy dish to fancify if you have the right ingredients - and Moliterno al Tartufo is just the cheese for the job!
To make it look extra impressive, I’d advise swapping the classic elbow macaroni for a more rarely-used pasta shape, especially the ones that are commonly used for heavy and chunky sauces, like Campanelle, Strozzapreti, or Orecchiette. These pasta shapes hold onto thick sauces well, and they’re noted for the ability to be an excellent “sauce transport” carrying the flavor through. Just what you need in your mac and cheese pasta!
Try a Savory Oatmeal Porridge
Okay, hear me out! It may seem unorthodox, especially to the American audience that strongly associates oatmeal with sweet breakfast foods, but! Oatmeal is a grain! It’s just as fit to be paired with savory ingredients as, say, rice!
To be honest, I’m sneaking in my incredibly biased opinions here because savory oatmeal porridge with shredded cheese is one of my personal favorite breakfasts! Instead of milk, I use water to make the oats and start adding shredded cheese bit by bit when it starts to thicken. In my experience, it comes out the best with a mix of well-melting cheese like gouda or mozzarella with a more sharply flavored aged cheese like parmesan or Moliterno, combining the best of the cheese world: stretchiness and robust, nutty flavor.
Now that I think about it adding some fried mushrooms to the oatmeal could work really well! It’d be like a 5-minute mock risotto!
Crumble It on Top of a Fresh and Fruity Salad
Due to its robust flavor, Moliterno al Tartufo can be somewhat hard to pair with salads. The truffle might overwhelm other ingredients. But that’s not always a bad thing, especially if you enjoy cheese and if you enjoy truffles!
Still, I’d advise keeping Moliterno al Tartufo for simpler salads with fresh greens and nuts. For more fruity salads, Moliterno with wine would work much better. In contrast, more complex salads with many flavorful ingredients would work better with a more neutral Moliterno that hasn’t been flavored with anything. It’s still robust enough not to get overwhelmed, but the lack of intensity characteristic of truffle flavor will help it balance out the salad ingredients better instead of overpowering them.
Add Extra Pizzazz to Monte Cristo Sandwich
Monte Cristo Sandwich is all about combining multiple flavors that don’t seem like a good combination at first glance, so why not up the ante? The easiest way to describe classic Monte Cristo is a French toast grilled cheese. It typically consists of Emmental cheese, ham (and, sometimes, turkey or jam) stuffed between two slices of French toast, grilled until the cheese melts, and then if all that wasn’t enough, covered with powdered sugar or maple syrup.
In other words, the Monte Cristo sandwich is a veritable flavor bomb and a great recipe to add as complex a flavor as Moliterno cheese. The trick is that, like most sheep milk cheeses, Moliterno cheese doesn’t melt particularly well due to its high protein and fat content. So instead of swapping the Swiss cheese outright, rather add a few thin slices of Moliterno alongside it.
Make Fancy Italian Cheese Dumplings
Italian cheese dumplings or Canederli al Formaggio are somewhat similar to German Semmelknödel, using bread and milk as base ingredients. The difference is that the bread is additionally flavored with a hefty amount of cheese. The recipe is thought to have originated in South Tyrol, and cheese dumplings are considered a traditional Tyrolean dish.
Shredded soft white bread is combined with strongly flavored cheese (like Gorgonzola) that’s been diced into small cubes (you need slightly more cheese than bread, approximately 12 oz of former to 10 oz of latter per 4 servings). Bread and cheese are mixed with beaten eggs, milk, chopped parsley (and optionally some flour if the mix needs thickening), formed into small balls, and boiled.
Moliterno, especially Moliterno al Tartufo, is plenty flavorful to act as a substitute in the recipe, giving the dish a fancier spin.
Quattro Formaggi Pizza, But Special
Quattro Formaggi is one of the easiest pizzas to make at home, as long as you’ve got all the right ingredients. And by the right ingredients, I mean pizza dough and four types of cheeses. You don’t even need tomato sauce! The Pizza Quattro Formaggi without pizza sauce is called Blanca (“white”), while the one with the sauce is called Rossa (“red”). I’ve noticed recently that the trend with Pizza Blanca seems to be on the rise, with more and more restaurants skipping out on the sauce, but you do you!
Classic Quattro Formaggi Pizza almost always includes mozzarella as the fundamental ingredient for its melting quality, but the rest of the Italian cheeses tend to change based on the Chef’s taste! Some kind of blue cheese is almost always present (usually Gorgonzola), as well as shredded parmesan and a softer cheese with good melting qualities.
The best Quattro Formaggi Pizza is the one that balances all four types of cheese textures: soft with mozzarella, mature with blue cheese, hard cheese with parmesan or pecorino, and creamy cheese with the likes of ricotta or robiola.
Swap the hard cheese for Moliterno al Tartufo, and enjoy Quattro Formaggi pizza like never before!