Ingredient Introduction #37 – Manchego Cheese

This week’s ingredient introduction is brought to you by a great sale at The Fresh Market.

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The store, which is one of my favorites, was offering Manchego cheese for $15.99 per pound. Yes, I too think it should be wrapped in gold and have the ability to rub your feet for that price. But, normally it’s $17.99 per pound, so I had to splurge.

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This cheese is off-white, and firm. It has small holes in it.

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I think it tastes almost like a cross between Swiss and Parmesan. It doesn’t have the bite of Swiss, but like Parmesan, it has a buttery, nutty flavor. It’s very smooth and creamy.

It’s often served as-is on a cracker or a crostini or on a meat and cheese platter.

I wanted to do more with it. So, I made a pizza.

To pay respect to the origin of Manchego, I went with a Spanish theme, specifically substituting good ol’ pizza sauce for Romesco (peppers and nuts), which is a sauce from Spain. I topped the pizza with caramelized onions (this takes time) and shrimp.

Here’s what you need:
Pizza dough (I made my own, store-bought is great, too)
1 yellow onion, sliced
Olive oil
1 Tbsp. butter
8-10 shrimp, peeled & deveined
Manchego cheese (as much as you want or can afford)
¼ cup whole almonds
2 cloves garlic
1 heirloom tomato, quartered
¼ cup olive oil
2 tbsp. Sherry vinegar
2 chipotle peppers (from a can)
1 Tbsp. of the adobo sauce from the can of chipotles
½ tsp. paprika
3 Wasa crackers (or 1 slice of crusty bread)

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees.

Prepare your pizza dough. If using store-bought, skip to the next step.

In a large pan, add a drizzle of olive oil and a tablespoon of butter. Add the onions and cook over medium high heat for 10 minutes. Stir occasionally. Add salt, and cook for another 20-25 minutes, or until the onions shrink down and turn a caramel color.
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While the onions cook, roast the tomato, almonds, and garlic cloves for 7-8 minutes.

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In a blender, add the vinegar, olive oil, chipotle peppers and sauce, the roasted tomato/almonds/garlic, paprika, crackers, and salt. Blend until combined. This will be a very thick, almost chunky sauce.

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I used the Wasa crackers, because that’s what I had, and because they’re low in carbs and give some extra fiber. One slice of crusty bread works well, too.

Use a vegetable peeler, to create ribbons of the Manchego cheese. Use as much as you want, but enough to give a good topping to the pizza.

Preheat a grill. If you don’t have one, the oven works fine, too.

Roll out your pizza dough. Put olive oil on both sides, and drop onto the hot grill. Watch it. It’ll burn fast. Once the dough begins to firm up and get grill marks, flip it. Reduce the heat on the grill to low.

Using extreme caution, spread the Romesco sauce onto the crust. Top with caramelized onions and the shrimp. Spread out the Manchego cheese.

Turn the grill up to medium-high, close the lid, and let the shrimp cook. This will only take a few minutes. Once the shrimp is pink and the cheese is melted, you’re good to go!

Shave some more of the Manchego cheese over the pizza just before serving.

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This pizza is packed with flavor. It’s so different. You won’t find this combination in the freezer section or in a cardboard box delivered to your doorstep.

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The Romesco sauce is spicy and rich. The crust is crunchy, the onions and shrimp are sweet. The Manchego cheese is creamy, salty, and buttery.

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If you can find this cheese and the money to spend on it, go for it!

I think the Manchego would go perfectly with chorizo or ham. Maybe together on a pizza?

Tip: Whether it be Manchego, or any other cheese, serve it at room temperature.

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One Comment Add yours

  1. You had me at cheese! This looks divine. Can’t wait to try this.

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