SPANISH MEDITERRANEAN DIET - FOODS, RECIPES & BENEFITS
A way of eating based on traditional foods
Manchego Cheese is a gourmet product from Spain known for its sweetness with hazelnut, caramel and meaty accents. Made with 100 percent sheep milk, it has a history and heritage that stretches into antiquity.
Manchego Cheese is made exclusively with milk from Manchego sheep, a breed that was known to prehistoric man. Archeological digs have uncovered remains that clearly demonstrate people in the Bronze Age were making cheese from the Manchego sheep’s early ancestors. True Spanish Manchego Cheese is only made in the country’s La Mancha region.
A semi-firm cheese, the level of moistness and sharpness of flavor will depend upon how long it’s aged. Fresco is “fresh” cheese that’s been aged for 2-4 months, while curado (matured) cheese has been aged for a year. The longer it’s aged, the drier and more crumbly the texture.
Manchego was drained and molded in traditional baskets made with esparto grass at one time that created a unique pattern on the cheese. More modern plastic baskets are now used that imprint the rind with the distinctive crisscross herringbone pattern, making the cheese easy to identify in the marketplace.
Stringent standards are maintained in its creation, from the sheep’s diet to the aging process. It belongs to an elite group of gourmet foods safeguarded under the banner of Protected Designation of Origin. Cheese artisans utilize traditional methods for a unique taste that can’t be simulated anywhere else in the world.
The cheese is traditionally served with foods that include Iberico ham, "marcona" almonds and "membrillo". It pairs well with full-bodied white wines and an extensive range of red vintages. Manchego melts easily and is especially popular when used in egg-based cuisine or served on a cheese plate. This cheese has become a staple topping for gourmet pizza and connoisseurs enjoy it in mac-and-cheese for its rich golden color and scrumptious creaminess.
Manchego Cheese has been welcomed with open arms outside its native Spain. It makes a delicious dip and adds distinction to quesadillas. It’s uniquely suited for melting over vegetables and to spice up soups and salads and it’s being used by professional chefs in haute cuisine around the world and by home cooks who have embraced it for sandwiches, hotdogs, as a topping on flatbread, and multiple types of meat pies and dishes.
Whether it’s used as a topping, a dip or as a tasty snack, Manchego Cheese is a savory sensation that shouldn’t be missed. With its historical beginnings and unique taste, Spanish cheese has taken its place among the premiere gourmet foods around the world.