If you’re willing to venture off the beaten (aka American) path, you may just discover your new favorite Italian cheese, one that’s cheaper than Parmigiano Reggiano with a similar flavor profile. We’re talking about Grana Padano, a hard, pale yellow cheese that is made from semi-skimmed cow’s milk and aged for about two years, according to Cheese.com. Grana Padano even comes from a specific Italian region, reports Bon Appétit. Sound familiar?
Despite its similarities to Parmigiano Reggiano, you don’t have to break the bank to get ahold of Grana Padano. According to Wise Living Magazine, Grana Padano has a similar taste and texture to Parmigiano Reggiano but is significantly less expensive. This may have to do with the fact that Grana Padano comes from a larger Italian region, so more people are allowed to make it (via Bon Appétit). It could also be because the restrictions around Grana Padano are much looser. Parmigiano Reggiano cows can only eat food grown in the area and their milk has to be at the dairy within two hours of milking, while Grana Padano cows are subject to no such regulations, notes Saucy Dressings.
Besides being affordable, Grana Padano is also slightly milder and sweeter than Parmigiano Reggiano, which can make it a more versatile cheese. If you’re unconvinced, take a page out of chef Lidia Bastianich’s book — she adds it to almost all her pastas and keeps extra on the table.