Grana padano is a cow’s milk grating cheese made in various parts of northern Italy. It is similar to the better-known, richer Parmigiano-Reggiano, but it is not aged as long and, as a result, has a less complex taste. It is perfect for many pasta dishes.
Recipe courtesy of Williams-Sonoma
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 sweet white onion such as Vidalia, finely diced
- 1 leek, white portion only, rinsed well and finely diced
- 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- Tiny splash of brandy or cognac
- 1 can (35 ounces) plum tomatoes, chopped
- 1 bay leaf
- Leaves from 2 or 3 large fresh thyme sprigs, minced
- Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 1 pound spaghetti or bucatini
- 1/2 cup pitted Mediterranean-style black olives, halved
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- Leaves from 3 or 4 large fresh flat-leaf parsley sprigs, coarsely chopped
- 1 cup grated grana padano or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- 1 In a large fry pan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the onion and leek and sauté until soft, about 5 minutes.
- 2 Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant and very lightly golden, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the brandy and let it boil away. Add the tomatoes, bay leaf and thyme.
- 3 Increase the heat to high and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is slightly thickened, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
- 4 Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Generously salt the boiling water, add the pasta and cook until al dente (tender but firm to the bite), 7 to 9 minutes.
- 5 When the pasta is almost ready, add the olives and cream to the sauce. Simmer gently over low heat for a few minutes to blend the flavors.
- 6 Drain the pasta well and add it to the sauce. Add the parsley and toss gently. Pour into a warmed large, shallow bowl and serve immediately. Pass the cheese at the table.