Asiago is a hard cheese recognized with the D.O.P. which is produced in the provinces of Vicenza, Trento, Padua and Treviso.
Asiago is a hard cheese recognized with the D.O.P. which is produced in the provinces of Vicenza, Trento, Padua and Treviso. Originally this cheese was produced only in the Asiago plateau, from which it takes its name, but over time production began to expand from the plateau to the surrounding hills and alpine huts.
The history of this cheese is to be found around the year 1000, when it was produced only with sheep’s milk; only later, around the fourteenth century, given the large number of cattle present on the plateau, did cow’s milk begin to be used instead of sheep’s milk, and in the years that followed until today, cow’s milk has continued to be preferred to the sheep one for its production.
Asiago cheese can be produced in both fresh and aged versions.
Fresh Asiago is a soft cheese, with many irregular holes and a traditionally white texture. Its typical flavor is that of freshly milked, slightly acidic milk, which recalls both the aroma of butter and that of yogurt; its maturation lasts at least 20 days. The presence of live lactic ferments inside makes it an excellent cheese for a balanced and complete diet, especially if included in a Mediterranean diet.
Seasoned Asiago is certainly the oldest version and closest to the one prepared from the 1500s onwards. The flavor of seasoned Asiago varies according to its maturation: if it goes from 4 to 6 months it is called “mezzano”, over 10 it is called “old” and over 15 months instead “stravecchio”. Middle Asiago is sweet, the old one is fragrant, while the extra-aged one is decidedly intense. Its rind is thin and yellow, while its paste is compact and straw-coloured. Its aroma is very characteristic: it vaguely recalls the scent of dried fruit and raw bread dough. It is a true concentrate of proteins, vitamins and minerals, and can alone represent 50% of the daily protein requirement of an adult.
To best consume fresh Asiago it is advisable to keep it in the refrigerator for a maximum of 10 days once the package has been opened; the seasoned one, on the other hand, must be wrapped in a moistened cloth and can be kept in the refrigerator for up to a month after opening.
Asiago, both fresh and seasoned, can be used in many ways in the kitchen. In addition to being eaten alone in a nice cheese platter, accompanied by white or red wines according to the seasoning, they can form the basis or be the ingredient in many special recipes.
Fresh Asiago can be diced and used as a particular ingredient in vegetable salads, or in chunks in savory pies and vegetable flans, where it melts perfectly.
Another way to use it is in creams and fondues, or as a filling for ravioli.
Aged Asiago, on the other hand, can be used in the kitchen as a condiment for pasta, or to cream risottos, or even to give a touch of decisive flavor to salads.