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David Lissner
for restaurants

Eat this! Gorgonzola, tangy blue cheese from Northern Italy

Texas de Brazil's grape salad with roasted apples and gorgonzola cheese.

Texas de Brazil's grape salad with roasted apples and gorgonzola cheese.

What it is: Rich and blue-veined, with an inedible, rough pinkish-grey rind, Gorgonzola is a creamy, crumbly, tangy cheese from Italy. A mold, Penicillium glaucum, gives the cheese its distinctive flavor and appearance.

On the spectrum of blue cheeses, Gorgonzola falls in between the mild Roquefort and the sharper Danish blue. The younger, fresher version, aged at least 50 days, is called Gorgonzola dolce; a firmer, more pungent, aged type, named Gorgozola piccante or naturale, is matured more than 80 days.

Where it comes from: Named for a village now part of Milan, authentic Gorgonzola can be made only with whole milk from cows in the Italian regions of Lombardy and Peidmont. Originally called stracchino verde, the cheese’s beginnings are obscure and may reach back to ancient Roman times, but the name “Gorgonzola” only became officially attached to it in the 1950s. The cheese received Denomination of Protected Origin (DOP) certification in 1996.

Evandro Caregnato

Evandro Caregnato

In the United States, where European Union laws do not apply, blue cheeses from Wisconsin and elsewhere may be called “gorgozola.” The foil wrapper of authentic Italian gorgonzola has an official “g” mark.

What to do with it: Gorgonzola can be eaten out of hand, as part of a cheese plate or with crackers, nuts, crudites or fruit. It can go into pastas, top burgers and steaks, and it’s wonderful in salads. At Texas de Brazil in River North and Schaumburg, Chef Evandro Caregnato pairs gorgonzola with fruit in a wine-friendly salad, served as an accompaniment to roasted meats.

Texas de Brazil’s grape salad with roasted apples and gorgonzola cheese
Chef Evandro Caregnato

“This salad is especially great if accompanying roasted pork loin or leg of lamb,” says Caregnato, who created this recipe in order to serve a salad that goes well with wine.

2 golden delicious apples, peeled and cored
1-1/2 cups seedless red grapes
1-1/2 cups seedless green grapes
1-1/2 cups mayonnaise
1 tablespoon lemon juice
3/4 cup crumbled gorgonzola cheese

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Cut the apples into 1-inch cubes and dust with a little sugar. Place the apples in a single layer in a greased pan. Roast for about 20 minutes or until lightly golden. Let cool.

Combine 1-1/2 cups roasted apples with the remaining ingredients in a large bowl. Mix well and chill before serving. 10 side-dish servings.

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