Alla scoperta dei 5 formaggi siciliani Dop

Today we are going to discover the Sicilian PDO cheeses which have recently become 5 thanks to a well-deserved new entry. Do you already know them? Purchasable online thanks to the numerous e-commerce on the net (Sicilyaddict has a great selection ) some are historic Sicilian cheeses that boast a very long tradition. From pecorino to ragusano Dop , here are their characteristics and uses in the kitchen, but first some info!

Historical Sicilian cheeses

Cheese, it won't create surprise, has always been one of the basic products and foods of the diet of shepherds and farmers. Emblem of poor cuisine , it is a complete food that the latter have learned to make due to the need to keep the milk longer, which otherwise would have been lost. The cheeses of the Sicilian dairy tradition are the result not only of raw materials closely linked to the territory , but also of particular tools used, an integral part of the socio-cultural context of Sicily of those who raise and work the land (just as, moreover, this concerns also Sicilian cured meats ).

List of Sicilian PDO cheeses

As anticipated, the list of Sicilian PDO cheeses has just been enriched with a new entry. Those who already know her know how much she deserved this ambitious position. Here they are, one by one, with their peculiarities and perfect combinations : they are all part, in one way or another, of the history of Sicilian cheeses.

Sicilian pecorino dop

Not to be confused with the " Sicilian cheese with pepper " which we will see below, pecorino has very ancient origins. It has a particularly strong and slightly spicy taste. Its degree of flavor increases as it matures. In the kitchen it is used both as an ingredient and, grated, to be sprinkled on pasta. It is prepared from whole sheep's milk and its shape is guaranteed by resting it in special baskets , called fasceddi , which then help to create the classic stripes on the rind. The DOP label is reserved only for Pecorino Siciliano aged from 3 to 18 months. As anticipated, there is a particular type of cheese, similar to pecorino and studded with whole grains of black pepper, which however does not boast the protected designation of origin. Pecorino Siciliano DOP is served as part of rustic appetizers with pickled green or baked black olives, cured meats and pickles as well as fresh "homemade" bread. It goes well with full-bodied red wines.

Ragusano Dop

Ragusano Dop is one of the oldest Sicilian cheeses (there are traces of it as early as the 1500s). It is a stretched curd cheese made with whole raw cow's milk. With a sweet and aromatic taste, spicier if aged, it finds ample space in the typical Sicilian cuisine . Ragusano is produced in traditional wooden forms called “ mastredde ”. These are responsible for the particular and unmistakable parallelepiped shape that this cheese has. Protagonist of some typical recipes such as caciocavallo all'argentiera , baked pasta, anelletti timbale and much more. It can be used in place of Parmesan or Grana Padano on pasta. It can be accompanied by white wines (especially when it is "young") and reds as part of an aperitif. Among the latter, it goes well with Nero d'Avola and Syrah. It remains delicious, however, as a table cheese .

Piacentinu Enna DOP

The production of Enna Piacentinu - limited to the municipalities of Aidone, Assoro, Barrafranca, Calascibetta, Piazza Armerina, Pietraperzia, Valguarnera and Villarosa - is punctually exhausted before the end of each year, this in the face of the great demand compared to the small supply. Yes, because the producers of Piacentinu, in Sicily, are very few. The cheese is made with raw whole sheep's milk , has a color that turns yellow thanks to the presence of saffron which also brings the delicate smell. In the kitchen it is used in recipes for first courses such as pasta ncasciata or bundles filled with Piacentinu, to make stuffed artichokes or carrubbeddi, pancakes based on cheese enriched with anchovies which is then dipped in batter and fried.

The vastedda del Belice Dop

Vastedda della Valle del Belìce Dop indicates exclusively the stretched curd sheep's milk cheese, obtained with whole raw sheep's milk raised in the homonymous valley (located in the south-western part of Sicily). The fresh sheep's cheese has a particular flavor with acidic notes. With a white texture, it has the classic focaccia shape. The Dop must have a diameter between 15 and 17 cm and must not exceed 700 grams, but not less than ½ kg. The Vastedda della Valle del Belice is mainly consumed fresh, also thanks to the production period, which is concentrated in the summer. It gives its best with tomato, oregano and a drizzle of oil and goes divinely with typical Sicilian wines .

Provola from the Nebrodi Dop

The latest addition to the list of Sicilian DOP cheeses is the provola dei Nebrodi . Stretched curd cow's milk cheese, there are different types. It can be found fresh, semi-seasoned, seasoned, flaky and with green lemon (a gem, the latter). The cheese was born in Floresta. When fresh it has a classic pear shape, with or without a head; the other types are oval with a short neck. Depending on the seasoning it is more or less spicy. It can be enjoyed as a table cheese in home-made appetizers and in place of mozzarella in some oven-baked preparations. It goes well with both white and red wines.