A few weeks ago, I was contact by my friends at Whole Foods about an upcoming contest just for bloggers to help celebrate Parmigiano Reggiano in their stores. Remember when I created a recipe for Brussels Sprouts and Chicken Pizza with Parmigiano Reggiano? Oh, yes, that was delicious. And, as you probably know, I love cheese. So much, in fact, it would be my last meal on earth. Anyway, long story short, when Whole Foods asked me if I wanted to participate in their contest, I was all about it. They also gave me a $25 gift card to buy some Parmigiano Reggiano and create my recipe, so… get creative in the kitchen, eat some tasty cheese, and blog about it? It sounded like fun to me!
Here’s what the special blogger contest is all about:
We are constantly evolving, and that is no exception when it comes to our food palates. Whether you’ve refined your palate over months or years, Parmigiano Reggiano is often a part of the equation. Share your personal journey of how your palate has evolved on your blog, along with an original recipe featuring Parmigiano Reggiano that showcases just how far you’ve traveled.
To be considered, please include both your culinary journey (in whatever format suits your blog, be it video, photo, essay, or a combination), along with a recipe that calls for Parmigiano Reggiano in your blog post. Email the link to your live blog to firstname.lastname@example.org no later than Wednesday, March 6, at 11:59 CST. Entries will be judged by a panel of Whole Foods Market Team Members by 50 percent storytelling and 50 percent recipe appeal. To win, you MUST be able to travel to New York City during the travel period (May 15, 2013). If you are unable to attend, the prize will go to the runner up. To claim your prize, please respond to the communication you’ll receive via email Whole Foods Market within five business days.
A trip for two to New York City for an exclusive media event on Wednesday, May 15, showcasing high-end, sustainable cheeses and some of our favorite wines. You’ll be able to meet the cheesemakers, our cheese guru Cathy Strange and mix and mingle with top wine influencers. Prize includes round-trip coach airfare, two night’s hotel of Whole Foods Market’s choosing (Tuesday, 5/14 and Wednesday, 5/15) and admittance to the event. All other costs associated with trip are at winner’s expense.
Now that you know what the contest is all about, here’s my entry!
My Love Affair with Cheese
My love affair with cheese started as a toddler. My mom said my two favorite foods as a baby were chicken fingers and macaroni & cheese, and I practically lived off of them. I’ve pretty much loved cheese for as long as I can remember.
When I was older, Kraft Macaroni & Cheese was a weekly staple in our family meals. My sister and I really liked it, and, as a single parent, it was an easy, convenient meal for my mom to make for us. It might not have been the most nutritious, but in my mother’s defense, she managed to provide dinner every night, and we were just happy to have a meal and mom home with us.
Kraft Macaroni & Cheese was actually the first thing I learned how to cook as a kid. Ok, I could throw together a sandwich or add milk to cereal, but boiling water for pasta and mixing up the bright orange powered cheese with milk and butter were big steps in my culinary journey. I guess you could say mac & cheese started it all!
Growing up, stinky cheese was often at the center of parties and get-togethers with my extended family. My grandparents spent many years in Switzerland, so they brought back the tradition of eating fondue and raclette. Whenever there was a special occasion to celebrate, we’d often get together to “eat cheese.”
In more recent years, my mom, sister, and I have enjoyed fondue together at The Melting Pot, Fondue Fest, and to celebrate something special. My cousins, my sister, and I have also continued this cheese-eating tradition with “cheese parties” a couple of times a year. As you can see, we love cheese in our family!
I honestly love all cheese, but, over the years, my palate has changed from artificial (neon orange) powdered cheese to more “sophisticated” varieties with tons of flavor, like Parmigiano Reggiano. I swear, just sprinkling a tiny bit on top of a dish instantly makes it a zillion times tastier. There are so many complex flavors (sweetness, sharpness, nuttiness) in Parmigiano Reggiano, a little goes a long way!
With that said, here’s my Parmigiano Reggiano recipe, which was inspired by the fresh, in-season asparagus at Whole Foods. I knew I wanted to make a dish with thin potato skins, like nachos, but I wasn’t sure about the toppings until I saw a huge display of bright green asparagus. After that, the recipe just flowed. I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I did!
P.S. I think bacon pieces would be really good in this recipe (in place of the chicken or in addition)!
Springtime “Nacho Skins” with Parmigiano Reggiano
- 3/4 cup mushrooms, sliced
- 3/4 cup asparagus, chopped into 1/4-inch pieces
- 1/2 cup onion, diced
- 1 cup chunked chicken breast
- 2-3 medium Russets potatoes, cut into thin slices
- 2.5 tbsp olive oil
- 3/4 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano
- 1 tbsp garlic powder
- Salt & pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
In a large mixing bowl, coat potato slices with 1.5 tbsp olive oil, garlic powder, salt, and pepper.
Place potato slices on a large baking sheet. Try not to overlap them, so they cook evenly. Bake for 15-18 minutes until potatoes are lightly browned on top.
Meanwhile, add remaining tablespoon of olive oil to a large skillet on the stove top. Saute mushrooms, asparagus, and onions until the mushrooms and onions begin to soften and the asparagus is bright green.
Remove potato slices from the oven and then flip them with a spatula. Sprinkle potato slices with 1/2 cup of grated Parmigiano Reggiano and return to oven to bake for another 3-5 minutes until cheese is baked on.
Remove cheesy potato slices from oven and place them on a serving dish.
Top with mushrooms, asparagus, onions, chicken, and 1/4 cup of Parmigiano Reggiano (more if desired), and enjoy immediately!
Mal and I ate the entire portion of Springtime “Nacho Skins” with Parmigiano Reggiano in one sitting on Friday night. They were awesome! I loved that they were lighter and more nutritious than typical potato skins or nachos, but still really satisfying and, of course, delicious. We didn’t need tons and tons of cheese to enjoy them because the Parmigiano Reggiano added so much flavor.
Question of the Day
What’s your relationship with cheese? What’s your FAVORITE type of cheese?
P.S. Check out my interview on Fit Bottomed Girls!