Pasta filata cheese

Formaggi a pasta filata is a family of cooked, kneaded cheeses that dates back to the Renaissance. The term "pasta filata" translates to "spun paste". Though these cheeses have curds with a common structure, they vary widely. Pasts filata cheeses may be fresh and unripened, soft to firm, ripened and firm to hard, smoked or not, mild or piquant, to many shapes and sizes. Here are a few to check out.

Caciocavallo~ translates to "horse" in Italian. Caciocavallo comes from Campania in southern Italy. Today, cow's milk gives this cheese its straightforward, full and mellow flavor. This cheese is a style of Provolone, with a golden yellow interior, firm texture, and intense and lingering aroma. At three months of age, Caciocavallo is sweet and supple, enjoyed as a table cheese. As it hardens with age, it becomes a grating cheese. As a table cheese, Caciocavallo is great with fruit (figs, dates and melon), ham, mushrooms, olives, roasted peppers, and crusty Italian bread. It can be used in place of Provolone and Mozzarella. A mature Caciocavallo is excellent grated over pasta and potato dishes. Chianti Classico, Zinfandel or Cabernet complement Caciocavallo well.

Kasseri~ Kasseri is a stretched curd cheese with a combination of sheep's milk and goat's milk, or cow's milk. Domestic Kasseri is 80 percent to 100 percent cow's milk. Kasseri is salty and full-flavored. The texture is rubbery, resembling Provolone. Kasseri is used in Greece in place of Mozzarella. Other Greek cheeses in the Kasseri family include Kefalotyri and Keflograviera. Kasseri is a great cheese to saute, grill or serve with raw vegetables. Try with dried fruits, figs and dates. Olive bread is a good choice, as well as almonds, Serrano ham and olives. Red Wine Recommendations are Claret, Cabernet or Pinot Noir.

Scamorza~ Although similar to Mozzarella and Provolone, Scamorza is drier and chewier. Scamorza matures within a few days and has a mild flavor. Scamorza Affumicate is a popular smoked version. Scamorza Affumicate produced in the United States is smoked over burning pecan shells. Use Scamorza Affumicate in pasta dishes. It is wonderful with ham, mushrooms or grilled veggies. Plain Scamorza can be used in place of Mozzarella or Provolone. Fruit choices are figs, dates and melon. Crusty Italian and foccacia are good bread choices. Choose Italian Reds such as Chianti, Sangiovese or Cabernet Sauvignon.

Asadero ~ Often referred to as Mexican Mozzarella, Asadero was created in Oaxaca. It is a cow's milk cheese sometimes called Queso Oazaca, and is similar to Provolone. It is an excellent cooking cheese. It's flavor ranges from quite bland to buttery and sweet. Great for chili con queso, fondue, quesadillas to cubed in tortilla soup. Asadero complements peaches, apples and pears. Flour tortillas, jalapenos, beans, chilies, roasted peppers and salsa are great accompaniments to Asadero. Wine choices are Chardonnay, Sangria, or even sparkling wines and Champagne.

Ripened Mozzarella and Provolone are in the Pasta Filata Family.

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