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Author Notes: Gorgonzola terrine is an elegant recipe that you can serve at a buffet or as an appetizer, either with crackers or Italian ciabatta bread, and accompanied by nice glass of fruity white wine or an aged Port wine. This delight is also suitable as a cheese course in an important dinner. The pungent and distinct Gorgonzola flavor blends well with the sweetness and tenderness of the figs and the crunchy flavor of the nuts. This is a rich recipe, but there also a healthy side to it, of course!!!!. In fact figs are rich in fiber, vitamins and minerals while walnuts, in addition to vitamins and minerals, also pack high amounts of protein and omega-3 fatty acids, which as we know is beneficial to keeping your heart healthy and your cholesterol low. (At least this is something to balance out the gorgonzola!) With Italy’s reputation as the country of love and passion, it’s no wonder that a popular legend ascribes the origin of Gorgonzola cheese to a love story. One evening a young boy working as an apprentice in a dairy factory neglected his job, because he was “distracted” by a visit from his girlfriend and forgot to tend to his daily task. The next morning he found the milk curds covered by mold! He tried to cover his negligence mixing the curd from the day before with a new batch. He didn’t get rid of the mold, but the result was a new cheese never produced before and that now enjoys a solid and devoted following. This is, of course, only a legend to lend a little extra passion to this delicious cheese, which is made by adding a species of mold to fresh curd from whole pasteurized cow’s milk. It was already being produced in the Middle Ages, and its name comes from the town of origin, Gorgonzola, to the east of Milan. Nowadays several cities in Lombardy and a few in Piedmont are the main centers of Gorgonzola production. During these cold winter days I would also suggest enjoying sweet Gorgonzola spread on warm polenta. —Paola Lovisetti-Scamihorn
Serves 6-8 people
- 12 dried figs
- 1/2 cup dry Marsala wine
- 14 ounces sweet (dolce) Gorgonzola cheese
- 1/2 cup chopped nuts (pecans)
- 4-5 pecans for decoration
- 3 ounces mascarpone cheese
- Finely slice the figs and soak in the Marsala in a small bowl for at least 30 minutes.
- Line the inside of a loaf pan with baking paper, allowing it to extend amply beyond the edge of the pan. Divide the gorgonzola into 3 equal parts, remove the crust and place a gorgonzola cheese layer (about 1 cm, ½ inch thick) into the pan. (I use a regular loaf pan as a form, filling only one end of the pan.) Cover the gorgonzola with half of the figs, then place half of the ricotta cheese on top (about 1 cm, ½ inch thick). Add half of the nuts on top of the ricotta.
- Repeat the same procedure, and finish with the third Gorgonzola cheese layer.
- Cover the top with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours. Remove the plastic wrap and lift the terrine carefully from the pan holding the baking paper. Place the terrine on a serving plate and remove the baking paper. Cover the top and sides with a thin layer of mascarpone and garnish with some nuts.
- Let it rest for 10 minutes at room temperature, then serve in slices.
- Note: You can store the left over terrine (if there is any!!!) in the refrigerator for one day in plastic wrap. (Fresh ricotta does not keep very well once opened) Anyway this recipe is tastier when it is eaten the same day it’s prepared. There are two types of Gorgonzola: sweet Gorgonzola (dolce) and aged Gorgonzola (piccante, or zesty). The first one has a distinct but mild flavor and a creamy texture, while the second one has a stronger taste and a hard, crumbly consistency. You can freeze sweet Gorgonzola cheese, wrapped well in plastic wrap, for a few weeks.