Asiago may not be as well-known as Parmigiano Reggiano, but it’s equally as delicious and just as versatile.
Asiago is produced in the alpine area of the town of Asiago, province of Vicenza, in the Veneto region. There are two main varieties of Asiago: Asiago d’Allevo and Asiago Presstato (or Asiago Fresco). Asiago has a protected designation of origin (Denominazione di Origine Protetta or DOP); in other words, the only “official” Asiago is produced in the region.
Asiago d’Allevo DOP has a much more distinct taste. Its aroma is stronger with respect to that of the “pressato” (or Asiago Fresco) and is reminiscent of the fragrance of yeast, dried fruit and occasionally one can even distinguish a note of boiled chestnuts. To the touch, it is fairly solid; slightly elastic if relatively young (3 to 8 months aging), and harder when fully matured (9 to 18 months). On average, though, Asiago d’Allevo is aged anywhere from 6-12 months. Asiago d’Allevo is great as a table cheese or for grating over casseroles, gratins, pastas and hot soups.
Asiago Pressato DOP has an aroma slightly reminiscent of yogurt and butter. It is soft to the touch, but not sticky or oily. Its pale straw yellow color is indicative of its freshness and aging period of only 20 days. This highly ‘soluble’ cheese has a soft, slightly adhesive structure when tasted. The flavor is sweet, with a touch of acidity due to its freshness. It is not salty and, above all, it is never bitter. To the palate, this variety is reminiscent of yogurt, butter and whole milk. Once a morsel has been swallowed, a slightly sweet, mildly acid taste tends to linger in the mouth. Try this young Asiago as a table cheese or melt on paninis, sandwiches, and gourmet pizzas.
If you’re looking to get back to the basics, both of these Asiago cheeses are affordable, versatile options that won’t disappoint.
Check out these Asiago recipes: