We had plans to make a big batch of pasta salad for weekday lunches, but we've been getting tired of our old cheese standbys. We wanted something new for summer. Something fresh, light, and mild. The woman at our favorite cheese shop recommended this forme di formaggio, and we're glad she did!
Forme di formaggio is a kind of fresh milk Italian cheese made simply by separating the curds and whey. The curds get pressed together to form a compact ball and extract as much whey as possible. This is also called "basket cheese" because of how it's made and for the cheese's distinctive bowl-like shape after draining.
We first thought to cut it into cubes, but then saw that we could easily shred the cheese back into large curds with our fingers. We decided that we liked the rustic look of the irregular nubs of cheese in the dish.
The cheese itself had a chewy texture similar to mozzarella but slightly more firm. Its mild milky flavor was exactly what our summer salad needed, making a nice contrast the lemony vinaigrette and the crunchy raw vegetables. We also tried and liked it in a simple pasta dish. Like paneer and other fresh cheeses, the basket cheese didn't melt, but the curds got warm and soft in the hot tomato sauce.
Our cheese vendor said that forme di formaggio makes a good substitute for queso fresco if you can't find it. She also said that if you don't use the whole block at once, the cheese can be re-wrapped and frozen it for later. Just set it on a plate in the fridge for a few hours to thaw before using.
Give it a try and tell us what you think!
(Images: Emma Christensen for the Kitchn)