This simple preparation for olive oil-steeped cheese makes an appealing accompaniment to fresh pears or thin slices of fennel. The leftover oil is great for dipping bread, or it can be strained and used in a vinaigrette. The cheese should marinate for at least 2 days, but a longer stay won't hurt it.
- 1/2 pound wedge young Pecorino Toscano, rind removed
- 1 1/2 teaspoons cracked black pepper
- 2 bay leaves, crumbled
- 2 teaspoons finely chopped rosemary
- 2 long strips orange zest, about 3/4 inch wide
- 1 1/2 cups extra-virgin olive oil, or more as needed
- 12 to 18 outer radicchio leaves
- Balsamic vinegar, for garnish
- Kosher salt, for garnish
- 1/3 pound seedless red grapes or champagne grapes, for garnish
Working from a long side of the cheese, cut the cheese into about 20 thin slices. Place them in a dish large enough to hold them in a single layer. Scatter the pepper, bay leaves, rosemary and orange zest over the cheese. Cover completely with olive oil. Cover the dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 days.
To serve: Remove from the refrigerator 4 hours beforehand to allow the cheese to come to room temperature. Divide the radicchio leaves among individual plates, spooning a little of the seasoned oil and cracked pepper on top. Drizzle the leaves lightly with balsamic vinegar to taste, and sprinkle with salt to taste. Arrange the marinated cheese slices over or alongside the radicchio. Garnish each plate with a small cluster of grapes.
This recipe, adapted from "The Cheese Course," by Janet Fletcher (Chronicle, 2000), came from Brian Streeter, chef at Cakebread Cellars in the Napa Valley.
Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick.
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