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.
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.