Cheese as meat, pasta substitute?

CHICAGO — No-melt cheeses provide customers and culinary professionals alternatives to make dairy a center-of-plate protein. The cheese retains its form when cooked and could also be used to interchange meat in all sorts of dishes, together with breakfast sandwiches.

“Agency, moist cheeses like panela and paneer are proving to be widespread choices to deliver high quality protein to the plant-forward plate,” mentioned Ben Yee, director of producer partnerships, California Milk Advisory Board (CMAB), Tracy, Calif. “Panela has a gentle taste just like a dry pressed ricotta, with out melting, so it holds up effectively as the bottom for dishes like tacos and even as a meat-like medallion in a tomato sauce. Paneer might be marinated in spices and grilled for kebobs or in sandwiches.”

The CMAB labored with cooks to teach them about the advantages of no-melt cheeses. Dishes that have been developed embody Nashville scorching paneer, the place the cheese replaces rooster, and a keto lasagna, the place paneer stood in for noodles.

The New York-based Blue Apron meal equipment service began providing an “worldwide escape” menu this winter. One of many choices is paneer and vegetable tacos with peanut and arugula salad. The patron is instructed to pan fry the diced paneer after which stuff them into flour tortillas alongside sautéed candy peppers and onion, guacamole and a chipotle sauce.

“These cheeses don’t soften as a result of their protein construction,” mentioned Suzanne Fanning, chief advertising and marketing officer and senior vice chairman, Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin, Madison, Wis. “Both baked or grilled, these cheeses can kind a candy, caramelized, toasted ‘crust’ that’s oh-so-delicious.”

Recognizing this rising pattern for center-of-the-plate cheese, Cheeses of Wisconsin, Cottage Grove, Wis., created The Massive Moo, which “cooks crispy on the skin, heat and melty on the within.” What distinguishes The Massive Moo from different no-melt cheeses is it’s obtainable in flavors like bacon, cheese pizza, jalapeño and roasted garlic. The corporate promotes the product as keto-friendly with one serving containing 6 grams of protein.

“Gayo Azul Queso Blanco is a white delicate and recent cow’s milk cheese that’s rising in recognition,” mentioned Debbie Seife, director of promoting, FrieslandCampina Shopper Dairy North America, Paramus, NJ. “Customers are having fun with cooking with it and including it to their meals and dishes. It is usually improbable crumbled over enchiladas, tacos, salads and soups.”

One other Hispanic ingredient cheese gaining traction in the US is cotija. It’s a crumbly, barely salty cow’s milk cheese.

“Most individuals have doubtless had it on tacos, however the place it’s trending now could be within the many various avenue corn dishes displaying up on menus and in supermarkets,” Ms. Seife mentioned. “The standard dish is made with corn on the cob, spices and cotija cheese.”

The sharp, tangy cheese doesn’t soften when heated. Nonetheless, it has an adhesive high quality when grated that allows it to cling to corn or different meals. This makes it an interesting ingredient as a garnish on scorching dishes.

“Customers are opening themselves as much as experimenting with cheese and to creating plant-forward dishes that also fulfill their cravings,” Mr. Yee mentioned. “Cheese is the ‘glue’ that holds these dishes collectively, offering the flavour together with the performance. The largest problem is lack of know-how of those lesser-known varieties as a result of they’re most frequently related to Indian, Mediterranean or Mexican dishes.”

New types and flavors

Cheese has been an integral a part of Italian cooking, typically even the middle of the plate. One dish that’s relatively new to the US and actually taking off on menus is cacio e pepe, which interprets to “cheese and pepper.” The preparation makes use of lengthy, skinny, cooked noodles, similar to angel hair or spaghetti, which are spun with heat pasta water in a partly hole wheel of pecorino Romano cheese. It’s then closely seasoned with black pepper.

Datassential, Chicago, studies that cacio e pepe was on 48% extra menus on the finish of 2022 than it was 4 years earlier. Curious customers are also experimenting with the tacky pasta dish that some say is an early ancestor to the US staple of macaroni and cheese.

Norseland Inc., Darien, Conn., provides Lotito Presto Cacio e Pepe Pasta Starters. The refrigerated line is available in 4 varieties: authentic, con Pomodori (with sun-dried tomatoes), con Erbe (with wild herbs) and con Picante (with Calabrian chilies). The blends have sheep’s milk pecorino Romano cheese because the No. 1 ingredient. Entire milk powder and whey powder are crucial elements of the sauce combine. To make use of the combo, the patron prepares 1 lb of pasta. Throughout draining, one cup of the new water is saved and added to the sauce starter, then tossed with pasta. Two shelf-stable varieties — authentic and black truffle — will enter the market this spring.

Norseland was one of many first to market refrigerated cheese wraps, a high-protein different to conventional flour-based tortillas and flatbreads. Folios Cheese Wraps are par-baked sheets of cheese which are free from carbohydrates and gluten. The unique line debuted in 2016 in cheddar, Jarlsberg and Parmesan varieties. This 12 months Norseland added mozzarella to the road. The upper moisture content material of mozzarella offered baking challenges that the corporate managed to beat. The keto-certified wraps could also be stuffed, rolled, folded, melted, crisped and baked, mentioned Valerie Liu, model supervisor.

Sofia Auricchio Krans, a cheesemaker with BelGioioso Cheese Inc., Inexperienced Bay, Wis., mentioned the corporate has developed various cheeses supposed for including kick to all sorts of recipes. They supply a further layer of taste via a well-recognized format.

“Pepperoncino has spicy crimson pepper flakes added to the curd for a bit of warmth,” Ms. Auricchio Krans mentioned. “Our Artigiano cheese is available in blueberry, vino rosso (wine) and balsamic with cipollini.

“Our recent mozzarella is obtainable marinated with quite a lot of spice blends, together with pesto, hatch chili and white truffle oil,” she mentioned. “We’ve got an espresso-infused mascarpone that goes nice in desserts.”