Parmigiano-Reggiano can't find-Substitute?

mangomoonJune 9, 2009

I live in a very small rural town, for starters, and I am unable to find parmigiano-reggiano in a regular grocery store. Is there a substitute for it that someone can recommend that they have actually tried?

I am looking to make a home-made pesto sauce since I have an abundance of basil growing right now and the recipe calls for this ingredient. I Googled and I have read that it is same or similar to ordinary parm cheese which I have on hand, but I need an expert's opinion before attempting. This would be my first time trying this recipe and I don't want to mess it up. Thanks.

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Parm Reg is just an especially good imported's Parmesan from the Reggiano region.
Any other parm will do.....and in a severe pinch, like the night before a killing frost, I have made pesto with the boxed pregrated stuff....and even with blue cheese.....abnd even with no cheese at all....and added the cheese when I put the pesto over pasta.
Linda C

    Bookmark   June 9, 2009 at 6:20PM
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Yes, use regular Parmesan cheese. Parmegiano Reggiano is exceptional, and would be better in what you're making, but you can use any Parmesan. I'd recommend getting the refrigerated bag of Parmesan in the Dairy section, near the grated mozzarella and cheddar, etc, rather than the 'sawdust in a can'. I'm a little surprised, though, that your store doesn't have Parm-Reg. Are you sure? Have you asked? All supermarkets, large and small carry it around here. But I do live in an area where there are a lot of people of Italian extraction who wouldn't be caught dead using the green cannister.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2009 at 6:35PM
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LOLLLLL- I happen to have the 'sawdust' in a can in my cupboard, but would not want to use that one. I am familiar with the one you are talking about in the dairy section. I believe i have used that one in caesar salad. I looked up and down, left to right reading labels in 2 grocery stores and could not find it.

I am on the West coast and we have a lot of Hispanic extraction and several Mexican markets as well as Asian marketplaces, but no Italian. I think before I attempt this, I will call Trader Joes (half hour away from me) to see if they carry it.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2009 at 7:27PM
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Trader Joe's, also Costco, altho TJ's will have smaller pieces!

    Bookmark   June 9, 2009 at 7:41PM
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I'm surprised you can't find it. It's usually a triangular shaped piece of very hard cheese. Ask the deli manager, it's a very common cheese.

The shaker box stuff is not even close......actually it's a very poor substitute and should not be called cheese. I am shocked Linda, of all people, would have it in her cupboard! LOL

The refrigerates stuff will do for pesto but I would freeze it without cheese until you can get the real stuff, then add it when using the pesto

    Bookmark   June 9, 2009 at 8:07PM
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I agree with the others, check with the deli section of your store. I've found plain parmesan and Parmigiano-Reggiano in the deli section of my store. I've even found it in the deli section of a store in a small town in Oklahoma.

Does anyone offer it mail order?


    Bookmark   June 9, 2009 at 8:16PM
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mangomoon, my Trader Joe's has already shredded parmigiano-reggiano in the cheese area in plastic tubs. Before driving half an hour you might ask your local markets if they have it in such a form. Sometimes you can find it in the refrigerated section with the prepared sauces & pastas.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2009 at 8:17PM
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I think your Question was " can I Sub ".

I've substituted Pecorino Romano for Parmesan. Especially with a rich Spaghetti Sauce.

Parmesan is about twice the price but I don't think that is the issue.
I think Romano is one of the most popular Cheeses shipped into the US.
But it is up to your own taste buds.

If you find both try a test to see what " you " prefer.

My Spaghetti Sauce is so good , it doesn't matter, which I use. LOL

    Bookmark   June 9, 2009 at 9:24PM
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Another place to check in your supermarket would be the area where they sell the fixings for making your own pizza--Boboli crusts, presliced pepperoni, that sort of thing.

I agree with Chase, that if you're going to make the pesto to freeze, hold off on adding the cheese, then add it when you defrost. It's better to do it like that anyway, even if you do have the cheese on hand when you freeze it.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2009 at 9:25PM
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No Parmigiano-Reggiano here, and no other parmesan here either, not grated or the whole triangle, I have to drive 30 miles to Big Rapids for it and that's the closest. I can get the "sawdust in a can", but I don't, LOL.

I also think that plain parmesan would be fine and that romano would make an acceptable substitute, if you are making the pesto right now and not to freeze.


    Bookmark   June 9, 2009 at 10:44PM
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Just for sake of discussion,. I don't think that driving 30 miles or so is a big deal IF you make your shopping list accordingly and optimize every trip. I do that to get to the "good" Costco (much better selection than the closest one, which is an older/small store) or Trader Joe's or a number of other stores. So I just try to make every trip count. And I would do the trick of making the basic pesto and adding the cheese later, too.

Romano is fine taste-wise for a lot of things , but it crumbles more and doesn't grate as nicely as the Parmesan. And the best Parmesan has a wonderful nutty aroma as well. So often I find that the premium products have aromatic qualities that really captivate me.

And be sure that you get yourself a Microplane grater, if you don't have one already!

    Bookmark   June 9, 2009 at 11:07PM
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I think it's like this:

In the U.S., almost any dry grating cheese can be called "parmesan" by manufacturers and packagers. In Italy, many grating cheeses, especially Grana Padano, are called "parmesan" -- but that term is actually rarely used for Parmigiano-Reggiano over there.

Grana Padano, Parmigiano-Reggiano and Asiago (another very good grating cheese) are made from cow's milk. Pecorino Romano is made from sheep's milk and is quite a bit saltier than the first three; but it's a good partner to the others.

Most of the stuff sold in U.S. markets as "Parmesan" in the triangular packages are a young Grana Padano cheese.

As linda, I've used many different cheeses for my pesto. I even like a well-aged gruyere.

All of them are 1 to 1 subs for P-R. But taste them first to determine saltiness and whether or not you need to add a pinch of salt in the recipe (if it calls for it at all).

As for the pre-grated packaged stuff in a green canister, you really do need to taste the real stuff against it to know why cheese lovers cringe at the site of the canisters.


    Bookmark   June 9, 2009 at 11:09PM
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Boy, I only wish I had TJ's and such markets only 30 miles from me! LOL

I will probably get flogged for admitting this on this forum, but I can't really tell any difference between Parmesan and Parmigiamo-Reggiano. I have tried many, many brands, and they all taste pretty much the same to me.

Now we won't even go there regarding the dreaded green can! LOL Once you have the "real" stuff you'll never buy the green can again!


    Bookmark   June 10, 2009 at 10:00AM
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Lynn Rosetto Kasper of "The Splendid Table" had a recipe today for Pasta w/Instant Fresh Pesto and Balsamic vinegar and she used Asiago cheese, which I thought was interesting. This was pesto only for the dish she was cooking. Sounds good and I would post it but I don't know how:( I can only type the whole thing which is quite long because of her comments which are relevant. Anyhow, I thought the substitution for Parm Reg was certainly different.


    Bookmark   June 10, 2009 at 12:02PM
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Helene, I don't have a "good" grocery store in 30 miles, I have a SuperWalmart in Big Rapids, 30 miles away, but that and Meijer's are the only grocery stores even that close. I have a small independent here at home, about half a mile from the house. There's no such thing as "good" parmesan at Walmart, at least not here in Northern Michigan, but you can buy some brand or another in a chunk and it's still better than the stuff in a can.

I can drive 50 miles to Grand Rapids, but the closest TJs is 4 hours away. I can find good cheeses at Russo's or one of the gourmet markets there, but it takes advance planning, there's no "gee, the basil is going crazy so I'm making a 100 mile round trip after work tonight to get parmesan", especially if my 10 or 11 hour workday doesn't end until 7 or 8 at night.

I seldom have it on hand because I just don't eat cheese very much, it's not a favorite food and it's hard on my cholesterol levels, so cheese will usually mold before I use it up. I'd put it in the freezer, except I don't want to take up valuable freezer space.

So, even to get mediocre cheese requires a 30 mile drive, one way. To get good cheese it's 50 miles, one way. It was my perception of what the original OP is dealing with, it's a "what else can I use to avoid a long drive to pick up a specialty item" situation.

I've even been known to use Asiago in pesto, but I'll stand next to doucanoe and catch heck, because I don't even really care much for pesto.


    Bookmark   June 10, 2009 at 12:19PM
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Linda, Remember what Ben Franklin said, ?

" Beauty is in the Eyes of the Beholder "

If you like, use it !!! I won't say anything.

He also said ,
" A Penny saved is a Penny Earned,"
"Except if your are using Credit Cards."

    Bookmark   June 10, 2009 at 2:14PM
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Bumblebeez SC Zone 7

I usually use asiago in my pesto and pecans and sometimes Italian parsley. Pesto recipes are not set in stone and can be played around with to your liking. It's hard to mess up pesto.
I have several basils growing right now and like lemon basil best of the basils.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2009 at 5:18PM
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I agree with OO Annie'92. I avoid the boxed stuff, but there are good substitutes for Parmigiano-Reggiano that are just fine in most recipes. Frankly, I have to say that I appreciate the taste of the plain parmesan "triangle cheeses", romano or asiago more so than the Parmigiano-Reginano that I've purchased; and they're way more affordable.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2009 at 5:59PM
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OOA - LOL, every time I'm about to be jealous that you can grow your own cows, I hear something like that it takes you 100 miles round trip to get good cheese. I guess that helps put into perspective that there's positives and negatives, no matter where you are.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2009 at 6:53PM
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I have to wait to get to a Supermarket too.

In a pinch I've used Kraft Parmesan - Romano on Spaghetti.
It was pretty good. Of course, I'm not as fussy as some of the others.
I'm happy to get what I can.

The last Batch of Meat Sauce was sooooo good it didn't even need Cheese.

Not because I made it. It was just Good!!!
I don't know where I goofed.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2009 at 7:18PM
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I understand, Annie!

    Bookmark   June 10, 2009 at 9:32PM
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After all this, please let us know the outcome !!!!!

    Bookmark   June 11, 2009 at 6:33PM
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