Share your wisdom, oh cheese lovers!
August 18, 2010 3:31 PM   Subscribe

Talk to me about cheese! What do you pair with cheese that I'm not considering? I don't eat grains, corn or rice so I'm having trouble coming up with something not cracker-and-cheese or cube-of-cheese for my fix of dairy goodness

I love cheese. But I'm doing the specific carbohydrate diet. Which means grains of any type, including, rice, wheat, corn etc are all out. long list if you're interested in what the "rules" are. I don't mind bending them occasionally, but I do feel better when I eat grain-free.

But I love cheese (lactose free only, I miss me some mozzarella) and I'm at a loss at what to pair it with. I'm used to cheese-and-crackers and I'm sure there are some amazing combo's out there that I can try and happily enjoy that don't have me just eating cubes of cheese on their poor sad lonesome.

Types of cheeses I've been trying and enjoying are Muenster, Swiss, Fontina and Gouda. Each time I go to the store I try something new, so I'm sure there are more out there I'd enjoy.

So what's your favorite pairing?
posted by gilsonal to Food & Drink (65 answers total) 34 users marked this as a favorite
crisp apple slices!
posted by pipti at 3:33 PM on August 18, 2010

Fruit! Try apples, pears, grapes. Also jams/spreads - quince is nice.

I would also just google the type of cheese you're working with and see what others are doing. No need to reinvent the wheel (ha!)
posted by cestmoi15 at 3:34 PM on August 18, 2010

Swiss and cashews!
posted by General Tonic at 3:35 PM on August 18, 2010

Pear slices and sliced gouda. Mmmm.

Also seconding apple slices -- for which I favor sharp cheddar.

Few things are as nice as steamed broccoli with a little melted cheese.

Dunno if wine is on your list, but red wine goes nicely with many cheeses.
posted by bearwife at 3:35 PM on August 18, 2010

Dulce de Batata with a slice of mozzarella is amazing.

And caprese salad is easily in the top 5 foods on the planet.
posted by The World Famous at 3:35 PM on August 18, 2010

Cherry tomatoes or cucumber slices and...well, any kind of cheese, really!
posted by corey flood at 3:39 PM on August 18, 2010

Yes to the fruit -- pears with blue cheeses, apple with gouda but try anything! Almonds are tasty. Either plain or those fancy marcona ones.

Olives, of course! My favorite are the small green piccolini olives. Have those with manchego.

I also like dried fruit -- dried cranberry or apricot. And jam (though I typically pair jam with the cheese and a piece of bread -- you can certainly put it on the cheese) -- quince and fig jam are always winners.

Also beer! Try nut brown ales, wheat beers. Avoid hoppy beers with cheeses -- these are difficult pairs.
posted by amanda at 3:39 PM on August 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

Apples/pears (as mentioned above) are classic. Figs, quince paste as well. One not mentioned yet is honey to with gorgonzola (or presumably other blues).
posted by madmethods at 3:40 PM on August 18, 2010

I eat slices of cheese straight up. No shame. Also-- good honey pairs amazingly with lots of cheeses, especially blues, double and triple creme, and some others I can't think of. Think about the cheese as the substrate; instead of putting it on something, put something on it.
posted by supercres at 3:40 PM on August 18, 2010 [2 favorites]

Watermelon and melon, probably the best cheeses to mix with this are halloumi or feta. Great combo.
posted by razzman at 3:41 PM on August 18, 2010 [2 favorites]

Er, read the question: no mozzarella. Also, beer is on the linked "illegal" list.
posted by supercres at 3:42 PM on August 18, 2010

A soft cheese goes nicely with a celery stick. If calories aren't a concern hard cheese can be thickly sliced, dipped in a bowl of beaten egg and fried in oil.
posted by Hardcore Poser at 3:42 PM on August 18, 2010

if you can eat goat cheese, try it with a fig spread. just put on a plate and take a scooping of both. or for the stealth digestive system, goat cheese and prunes. YUM!
posted by raztaj at 3:42 PM on August 18, 2010

Crisp pears with parmigiana.
posted by bonobothegreat at 3:43 PM on August 18, 2010

Pickled things -- check out the ploughman's lunch.
posted by kmennie at 3:44 PM on August 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

I had a lot of leftover cranberry sauce after Thanksgiving one year (the kind you make with real cranberries, not the canned gelatin stuff) and discovered that it was really good with cheese on bread. You'll be skipping the bread, but the tartness of the cranberries is wonderful with the creaminess of cheese.
posted by Mala at 3:45 PM on August 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

I'm just going through your list and looking at things from the "good food" side that would be best with cheese. Lots of them would be good with melted cheese, like artichoke, asparagus, broccoli and black beans, but in terms of really interesting exciting stuff:

dates: oh my god, medjool dates stuffed with soft cheese and maybe a walnut or two, oh my god!

ham: very thinly sliced ham wrapped around a hard, mild piece of cheese (like one of the white Spanish cheeses), totally awesome!

mushrooms: you can take the stalks off, stuff the caps with cheese and then broil them, oh my god, tasty!

olives: are...uh...good with cheese. Sorry, no tasty serving suggestions for olives.

pears: with a semi-soft mild cheese. There's actually a quasi-tapas place I like that serves a pizza thing with brie, carmelized pears and balsamic vinegar, but you could certainly do this without the crust.
posted by infinitywaltz at 3:45 PM on August 18, 2010 [3 favorites]

Beans -- there are no beans that aren't better with some cheese.
Meats -- put cheese between two slices of any cold cut, and get to the heart of a sandwich (add tomatoes and lettuce at will.)
Eggs! -- scrambled or whatever, salsa is optional.

Is there really a food that you can't add cheese to?
posted by Some1 at 3:46 PM on August 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

Tree nuts pair well with cheese, particularly walnuts, almonds, and pistachios. Stick to unsalted or minimally salted. Sugared or glazed nuts can work as well.

Many kinds of charcuterie go well with cheese.
posted by jedicus at 3:46 PM on August 18, 2010

Dried meats, smoked meats, nuts, dried fruits, ice cream. You've listed some nice generic industrial cheeses, maybe some regional/local/specialty cheeses and meats would be a nice mix.
posted by Nanukthedog at 3:47 PM on August 18, 2010

I just had cherry tomatoes in a lovely local goat cheese - I dunno what the lactose situation is there but it was fantastic. I've also been known to just throw four cheeses together in a coffee cup and nuke it til it sizzles, then pour off the grease and eat it with a fork.
posted by restless_nomad at 3:51 PM on August 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

I guess we can generalize, based on the suggestions: anything that adds sweetness and/or acidity.

Also, one of my favorite appetizers ever is this one from Tria in Philly: Warm Poached Black Mission Figs with Gorgonzola and Prosciutto di Parma
posted by supercres at 3:54 PM on August 18, 2010

quince is one of my favorite pairings.
posted by violetk at 3:59 PM on August 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

This is basically the thread I've been waiting for my whole life.

Havarti and apricot jelly on a cracker, to me, is about as perfect as a cheese pairing can get.
posted by windbox at 4:02 PM on August 18, 2010 [2 favorites]

These are all great ideas but I bet if you want to keep exploring ideas you could look up some on line menus for ideas.

Here's a place I go. They have great ideas.

And here's a link to a Time article about cheese restaurants with links to their websites which I bet will hve some unique cheese pairing in their menus.
posted by beccaj at 4:03 PM on August 18, 2010

This cheese-pairing guide might give you some tasty ideas.
posted by moira at 4:15 PM on August 18, 2010

yes meat.


posted by The Biggest Dreamer at 4:16 PM on August 18, 2010

I like cheese all by itself.

Apples go with almost any cheese.

Ditto almost any jam or fruit preserve, the heartier and more rustic, the better. Maybe not citrus based, though.

Charcuterie, of course.

All of these pairings work very well with hard cheeses which are the ones without lactose.

If you can do melty cheese, what about making fondue? You can dip almost anything into fondue - either sweet (fruits) or savory (meats or vegetables). One of my favorite fondue vehicles is roast fingerling potatoes - I'm not sure whether potatoes count in your diet; probably because they are starchy and most carbophobes consider them only slightly more wholesome than crack. But it's heaven, I'm not going to lie. Any other mild roast or grilled vegetable would probably substitute - I'm especially salivating at the idea of dipping grilled eggplant or zucchini into fondue.
posted by Sara C. at 4:22 PM on August 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

Feta cheese in salads is amazing. Barring that, grate some whatever cheese you like and sprinkle it on everything in sight. Chili, soup, etc...

You could try a salad wrap. Instead of using tortillas as the wrapper, use lettuce, and layer it with meat and veggies and of course CHEESE.

(Someone mentioned Havarti as a type to try, and OH GOD YES. If you weren't no-grains, I'd say grilled cheese sammiches.)
posted by Heretical at 4:22 PM on August 18, 2010

Oh, and pears. How did I not mention pears? Especially with blue cheese.
posted by Sara C. at 4:22 PM on August 18, 2010

Some great suggestions here. I'm in total agreement with recommendations for fruit (especially dried) and nut pairings.

I favor dried cranberries with a nice cow's milk triple creme, and walnuts with just about any goat cheese you care to name. Almonds work, too.

I'm also a fan of the old Spanish tapas standard, thinly-sliced green apples with Manchego.

What else. Via James Beard's low fat cookbook, I nearly pass out over crumbled feta cheese and chopped fresh parsley served atop sliced turkey breast. It's one of those, OMG, who knew, combinations.

As to fresh figs, well, cheese is fine, but you haven't lived until you've had them with vanilla ice cream and sage sugar cookies. (I know, I know, that's not on your list.)

Finally, though she writes about lots of things not on your list, for all things cheese, my go-to authority is Laura Werlin.
posted by Short Attention Sp at 4:23 PM on August 18, 2010

I love cheese and peanut butter. Especially cheddar and crunchy peanut butter.

I also have been known to nuke pepperoni in the microwave between two sheets of paper towels to get a crispy warm meaty thing to pair with cheese and other stuff.

I have never met a cheese I didn't like, but lately I've been craving Farmer's Cheese (a mild white creamy cheese), Colby Jack, and Cheshire Cheese (a crumbly strong cheddar-like cheese from England) which my local cheese store does not stock! Yet.
posted by julen at 4:50 PM on August 18, 2010

Dulce de membrillo!
posted by hot soup girl at 4:50 PM on August 18, 2010

toss some shredded cheddar or whatever into a non-stick pan and fry it until it looks like a pancake, all crispy...takes on another flavor altogether.
posted by ~Sushma~ at 5:17 PM on August 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

Parboil some asparagus, grate a cup or so of cheese on top, put under the broiler for 5 minutes or so.
posted by Jeanne at 5:25 PM on August 18, 2010

You say - au contraire, mon frere, je ne peux pas manger le pain - no bread!
Use button mushrooms for dipping.
And do drink some kirsch with it, to prevent...uh...blockage. And if you're going to get kirsch, get German kirsch (schladerer is fine or Etter is AWESOME). The French stuff is usually not very good.
posted by plinth at 5:29 PM on August 18, 2010

2nd vote for medjool dates (fresh ones)... yummm
posted by buckaroo_benzai at 5:50 PM on August 18, 2010

Raclette with potatoes, gherkins, pickled onions, potatoes and prosciutto = heaven. Or mix and match!
posted by Solon and Thanks at 6:05 PM on August 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

Soft crumbly cheeses (blue, gorgonzola) go well in salad. So does chevre--it's not aged but apparently some lactose intolerant people do ok with goat milk. And of course you can't have Caesar salad without parmesan.
posted by phoenixy at 6:23 PM on August 18, 2010

Fresh tomato and basil. Make yoself a caprese salad, my friend. Delicious stuff. A little drizzle of olive oil, salt, pepper, balsamic vinegar. Tasty, tasty stuff.
posted by carlh at 6:47 PM on August 18, 2010

Beat up a couple eggs, throw in some diced tomato, add in some feta (or your favorite cheese), and make an omelette! You can sautee some onions and throw those in, or just use some green onions if you like.
posted by Earl the Polliwog at 7:01 PM on August 18, 2010

steamed vegetables (broccoli, green beans, brussels sprouts) topped with grated cheese
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 7:03 PM on August 18, 2010

Quince paste.
posted by pompomtom at 7:53 PM on August 18, 2010

red wine goes nicely with many cheeses.

It does indeed. But be careful about mixing red wine with bleu cheese - you sometimes end up with a very metallic taste that's not at all pleasant. Some spice-coated almonds, however, go great with bleu.

I love me a salad of watermelon, feta, and fresh basil, dressed with some olive oil and a light dusting of cayenne pepper.
posted by Guernsey Halleck at 7:53 PM on August 18, 2010

I had a small cheese plate recently that included a very good Brie, a small helping of roasted red grapes (I would imagine you just kind of chuck these in your oven until they get a little stew-y), and a small crumble of bacon.

It was delightful. Try that!
posted by padraigin at 7:59 PM on August 18, 2010

I like to melt cheese on a plate and then eat it, runny and hot, with a fork.

Or make cheese crisps- the recipe is unnecessarily specific, basically you just melt little piles of grated cheese until they're lacy and crisp (like larger versions of the crisp cheese bits that run over the edges of grilled cheese sandwiches).
posted by pseudostrabismus at 8:04 PM on August 18, 2010

Steamed broccoli topped with a little mustard and some grated cheese (toss, then cover for a few minutes so the cheese melts).
Roasted beet slices with goat cheese or other soft cheese.
Scrambled eggs with any cheese.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 8:09 PM on August 18, 2010

Cheese in salad!
posted by bearette at 8:14 PM on August 18, 2010

This bar I love serves a cheese plate with thin apple slices and spiced walnuts... best EVER. Also cheese in salad, or in scrambled eggs... grapes are of course nice too.
posted by ista at 8:44 PM on August 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

Any sausage has some sort of cheese that is amazing with it. I like a spicy hard sausage (like a real salami) with a hard mild cheese, like gruyere or parmesan or even some types of cheddar.
posted by oinopaponton at 8:59 PM on August 18, 2010

I have a favorite combination of beets, walnuts and feta cheese - granted, feta is off your 'legal' list for six months, so perhaps there's a decent substitute. I've used goat cheese as well - perhaps another soft cheese would work, or the "goat milk yogurt drippings" that site lists as an alternative for Chevre.
posted by LOLAttorney2009 at 10:25 PM on August 18, 2010

Dark, sweet cherries are absoutely delicious with aged sharp cheddars. If you hurry you still have time to enjoy this one while cherries are at the peak of their season!
posted by troublewithwolves at 11:53 PM on August 18, 2010

Cut up some veg - I like courgettes, sweet potato, garlic, aubergine and red onion - and roast in the oven with a little hard cheese on top. I like Gruyere but Swiss would be nice.
posted by mippy at 4:25 AM on August 19, 2010

Not sure how far along you are on the diet, but once you're well enough for nuts, definitely get your hands on some SCD legal almond flour. You can recreate any sort of baked good with it (though usually with some experimentation) and I know there are great SCD cracker recipes out there. Good luck to you!
posted by fairfax at 6:26 AM on August 19, 2010

Weird but VERY tasty: A sharp cheese (I have used cheddar), spread with a piquant mustard & covered with a leaf of fresh basil.
posted by pointystick at 7:41 AM on August 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

Good leaf lettuce can replace bread or a cracker as a foundation for cheese.

If you have silpat mats, make little heaps of good grated Parmesan cheese. Toss in the oven (I don't remember, so I'll say 350F) until they turn into crispy wafers. When you pull them out, they'll still be flexible.
posted by QIbHom at 8:23 AM on August 19, 2010

I've got a pot of chile-tomato jam on the burner right now, and later I'm making aspic (how old school, but with chile). Both are intended for cheese! Actually, pretty much every jam I've made this summer is probably going to be eaten with cheese because I don't eat grains, so I can't do the bread thing either.

Also, the ice cream cookbook The Perfect Scoop has a recipe for Pear & Pecorino ice cream, which is a mashup of two of my favorite things: ice cream, and pears/pecorino/walnuts.
posted by catlet at 8:51 AM on August 19, 2010

Apples with cheddar are one of the best combinations ever. Grapes also go nicely with a lot of cheeses.
posted by ObscureReferenceMan at 8:59 AM on August 19, 2010

Thin strips of fried haloumi atop avocado-spread pumpernickel. Mmm.
posted by mandrake at 11:48 AM on August 19, 2010

Gratins! Like macaroni and cheese, but with cauliflower, potatoes, winter squash, broccoli, or any other vegetables all baked together into deliciousness. Many recipes call for bread crumbs, but you can skip that layer and still have some gratin-y goodness.
posted by bassjump at 11:51 AM on August 19, 2010

Guava paste and fresh cheese or feta. In Brazil it's a traditional dessert called Romeo and Juliet.
posted by TheGoodBlood at 12:56 PM on August 19, 2010

Banana, Muenster and jam. I only know this because my favorite brunch place always serves a chunk of unpeeled banana with a slice of Muenster placed on top. The cheese has a taste of banana, and I put it on a bagel with the jam. I think you could do: chunk of banana, spread with jam, place a piece of cheese on top.
posted by waitangi at 4:59 PM on August 19, 2010

Cheese plus straight garlic. A nibble of this, a nibble of that. Mmmm.

Get rid of the garlic breath with fresh rosemary.
posted by aniola at 6:25 PM on August 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

Seconding grapes-red and green (in case you missed it above). Salty (cheese) + sweet does the trick.
posted by cynicalidealist at 1:17 PM on August 21, 2010

The person above mentioning lacy cheese cups is referring to frico, if you want to google for more ideas once you've got the cups. Very nice stuff.

Can't agree hard enough with the calls for mustard, mushrooms (take flavorful mushroom caps and fill with Emmentaler or other good Swiss and whole toasted brown mustard seeds, broil...yum), whole garlic particularly roasted (know you're doing grains but I know this from making roasted garlic spaetzle topped with lots of cheese), cranberries (YES! Cranberry jalapeno salsa + rosemary sprigs + provolone = holiday heaven) and therefore probably good cherries, grapes (for a change of pace try roasting them first to get a deeper, wine-y flavor), watermelon and basil with light creamy cheeses, prosciutto and asparagus "roll ups", fontina with deep dark par-cooked greens and white beans as well as some pork product if you like (so good and classic), apples and pears and (if you're weird like me) jicama slices, carrot sandwiches with something sharp and melt-y (if no bread substitutes, maybe a shredded carrot and cheese salad?), arugula or sprouts, nuts (esp. almonds), dark chocolate (no really), could also do a variation on that trashy eats thing of taking a brick of cream cheese and spreading it with jalapeno jelly, normally eaten on crackers but you could find something else...and if cream cheese is out, a variation with a creamy soft mild slightly sweet but ok for you cheese.
posted by ifjuly at 8:17 AM on August 24, 2010

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