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Rather than relegate great cheese to a before-the-meal appetizer, let it shine the Italian way — as the course before dessert.

This simple fruit and Parmesan offering is from Rick Tramonto’s “Osteria” (Broadway Books).

Parmiagiano-Reggiano with aged balsamic

1 Granny Smith apple, cored but not peeled

1 firm pear, cored but not peeled

1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

1 tbsp. lemon juice

1 tbsp. thinly sliced fresh basil

Kosher salt and ground black pepper, to taste

6 to 8 oz. Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

4 tsp. aged balsamic vinegar

Using a mandolin or sharp knife, cut the apple and pear into thin matchsticks.

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Place the apple and pear in a bowl, then add the olive oil and lemon juice and toss to coat.

Add the basil and toss again, then season with salt and pepper.

Break the cheese into about 8 equal chunks.

Divide the apple and pear mixture between 4 serving plates, then place 2 cheese chunks at the center of each.

Drizzle the vinegar around the cheese, then sprinkle lightly with pepper.

Serve at room temperature.

Makes 4 servings.

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