There are many kitchen tasks I look forward to, like scrambling eggs, kneading bread dough, mashing pesto, and frosting cakes. But there are just as many I would rather hand off to my
sous chef husband, like washing lettuce, washing herbs, really washing anything, and grating cheese.
Actually, I used to not like grating cheese. Tedious at best and knuckle-bloodying at worst. (Box graters, Microplanes, I’m looking at all of you.) But then Ina Garten taught me a better way, as she always does.
The secret? Skip the grater entirely and turn to a food processor instead. And no, not to the food processor grating attachment. Just throw the cheese in the bowl and pulse, pulse, pulse.
The clear benefit of this method is time. While you’re still grating, grating, grating away, Ina hits a button a few times, ends up with a mountain of cheese, and says, “How fast is that?” Very!
But the bigger benefit, if you ask me, is texture. Grated cheese, whether it’s on the biggest-possible holes or an ultra-fine Microplane, yields slivers and shards. Meanwhile, blitzing cheese in a food processor yields a nubby, pebby, ground-up consistency—a lot like the pre-grated Parm you’d buy at a supermarket. (Hm! I wonder how they do it!)
Not only is this uniform texture preferable in bread crumb coatings, like Ina is assembling in the video above for chicken Parm, but it’s A+ in dressings, and pretty dang addictive as a topping, for everything from salad to pasta.
Below are six recipes that come together faster—and better—with Ina’s cheese-grating hack. (Psst: This method also works for most hard cheeses that are similar in texture to Parmesan.)
With some olive oil and white wine (you already have both around, right?), Heidi Swanson turns grated cheese into your new favorite crudités dip.
We deem this frittata: the perfect spring dinner. With spring greens, pancetta, and lots of Parm, it’s a meal all on its own. But we wouldn’t turn away some crusty bread and rosé.
The lazy cook’s fettuccine Alfredo? Sign me up. Here, instead of cooking the pasta in one pot and making sauce in another, you join forces (and conquer the world!).
This Parmesan dressing was created for a shaved cauliflower, beet, and fennel salad. But don’t let that hold you back from pouring it on all sorts of roughage.
Not all pesto has to start with basil and end with pasta. This one swaps in thyme and grilled bread and plops some lemon crème fraîche on top.
This Marinated Steak With Almost Caesar Salad comes together like that thanks to the food-processor trick. Plus, there are no eggs—or worrying about emulsifying eggs either.