Make Ahead

Black Pepper and Parmesan Panna Cotta

March 31, 2016
2 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
Author Notes

Last year, my husband and I went to Italy. It was one of our most awaited trips. Those who have been to Italy know why it is such a wonderful place to visit. We dined at so many wonderful places and filled our bellies with such amazing flavors and homemade foods. But I cannot forget this one restaurant where we had an awesome savory panna cotta. Honestly, until now I always thought of panna cotta as a dessert option. But this experience changed it all. So, here's my attempt of making the savory panna cotta. I cannot completely remake with the same flavors, but this recipe can definitely do some justice. —PistachioDoughnut

Test Kitchen Notes

This was delicious! I thought all the suggested toppings paired really well with the cheesy wanna cotta. However, next time, I'll add a bit more freshly ground pepper and Parmesan and a pinch of salt to the panna cotta custard. I look forward to preparing and serving this again! —Bebe Carminito

  • Serves 4
  • 2 sheets gelatin
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Pinch freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, separated
  • Handful cherry tomatoes, to serve
  • Basil oil or premade basil pesto, to serve
  • Pine nuts, to serve
In This Recipe
  1. Bloom the gelatin sheets in a bowl of cold water while you make the base.
  2. Heat milk and cream in a saucepan. Bring it to boil, and mix in the Parmesan cheese and black pepper very thoroughly. Take the gelatin sheets (without the water) and add them in the hot mixture. Stir to combine completely.
  3. Pour this mixture into ramekins or glass cups. Place in the refrigerator to set, at least 5 hours or preferably overnight.
  4. Just before serving, assemble the garnishes: Prepare the balsamic reduction by heating balsamic vinegar with sugar until it reduces and looks thick.
  5. Cut cherry tomatoes in half. Toss them in 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and grill them in a grill pan until you see grill marks on them (or roast them in the oven for about half an hour at 350° F).
  6. You can serve the panna cotta with either premade basil pesto or with homemade basil oil: Process 1/4 cup of basil leaves with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Process it in a way that it does not become a puree but is instead a coarse/rough mix. (You could also do this with a mortar and pestle.)
  7. To serve, spoon a little bit of basil pesto or oil on a plate. Unmold the panna cotta (directions below) and place it on it. Top it off with cherry tomatoes and drizzle some balsamic glaze on top of it. Garnish with pine nuts (or a Parmesan crisp!).
  8. To unmold the panna cotta, run a knife around the edges of the ramekins and then try to invert it on a plate before you place it on serving plate. I have found silicon muffin molds very useful for unmolding panna cotta. If you do not want to unmold them, you can serve them in small serving glasses and top off with the pesto, tomatoes, and glaze. Either way, it will taste great.

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