For seven years in a row Whole Foods Market has been celebrating the King of Cheeses, Parmigiano Reggiano. This past weekend all Whole Foods across the country simultaneously “cracked” and sampled an 85- pound wheel of authentic Parmigiano Reggiano.
Did you know that every wheel at every Whole Foods Market is aged for 24 months? This is the best age in terms of taste and texture, in fact it cannot even be called Parmigiano Reggiano until it’s aged at least 12 months.
It has a rich distinctive flavor, it’s creamy, nutty, salty and savory all in one, and a little goes a long way!
They asked me if I wanted to join in the celebration, and of course I said yes. I always keep a hunk of of Parmigiano Reggiano as a staple in my kitchen, a good risotto just doesn’t taste the same without it and I can’t imagine not using it in my butternut squash gnocchi and ravioli.
It’s a great addition in many of my salads, sometimes just by simply grating large shards on top, and it goes without saying that it highlights many pasta dishes, in fact just last weekend I made a baked pasta dish with a tomato cream sauce, and honestly the Parmigiano Reggiano took it over the top, don’t get me wrong I love my Romano, but it wouldn’t have done it justice, and that’s how I feel about it, when I want a special finish to a dish that I’ve made, I always reach for Parmigiano Reggiano.
So to celebrate I wanted to make something that would showcase this special cheese and since spring is literally around the corner I decided to incorporate some of my favorite springtime veggies, lovely artichokes, fava beans, skinny asparagus and baby zucchini, and bathe them in a lemony parmesan cream sauce!
Keep in mind Parmigiano Reggiano has a distinctive tan colored rind that’s pin stamped repeatedly all over, by this you will know it’s the real deal.
So on with the recipe! I used a shallow pan, 8×11, and just 1 1/2 inches deep, you want the veggies to peek out of the sauce, it gives a nicer presentation instead of them all piled on top of one another in a deep pan. You might have to double or triple the sauce ingredients depending on the size of your pan and amount of vegetables you use.
I filled my pan single layer with sliced baby leeks, skinny asparagus, artichoke hearts, fava beans, baby zucchini and sugar snap peas, but you can use any combination of spring vegetables you like.
All the vegetables are pretty much pre-cooked and ready to go. I roasted the zucchini, asparagus and leek slices in the oven until crisp tender. The sugar snap peas were blanched for 4 minutes and of course the artichokes were cooked ahead of time, you could use frozen artichoke hearts if you want, but I wouldn’t use canned. The fava beans were bought and pre-cooked, all I needed to do was peel the skin off, that was easy and save alot of time.
- Assorted spring vegetables of your choice, precooked, placed single layer in a shallow pan, I used leeks, artichoke hearts, sugar snap peas, skinny aspragus and baby zucchini and fava beans.
- 1¼ cups Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, freshly grated
- 1½ cups, heavy cream
- zest of 1 lemon
- fresh mint
- salt and pepper to taste
- In a small sauce pan add the heavy cream and simmer just until it starts to bubble along the edges,
- ( this is a very important step), then remove from stove and toss in half of the zest and half of the grated Parmigiano Reggiano, stir gently.
- Spoon the cream sauce over and around all the vegetables.
- Sprinkle remaining cheese all over.
- Bake in 400 degree oven, uncovered until cheesy sauce sets and is thickened.
- If you want a little golden color, place pan under the broiler for a couple of minutes but please keep checking, don't walk away!
- Garnish with remaining zest and mint leaves, and a little more Parmigiano Reggiano wouldn't hurt.