Last Updated on August 8, 2023 by Aaron
The consumption of any food, including provolone, evolves based on the cultural context, availability of ingredients, and culinary innovations of a region or country. While Italians have their traditional ways of enjoying provolone, its versatility has led to various adaptations worldwide.
Provolone, like many Italian cheeses, holds a special place in Italy’s culinary traditions. While the ways of eating provolone can vary, below are some typical Italian methods of enjoying this cheese.
If you want to use provolone other than just as a regular sandwich, grilled cheese, salads, and pizza. You’re in the right place!
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Antipasto, which means “before the meal” in Italian, is a traditional first course or appetizer in Italian cuisine. Antipasto platters are typically made up of a variety of colorful, savory small dishes. The goal is to whet the appetite for the upcoming meal, not to satisfy hunger completely.
Provolone is a classic choice for antipasto platters and is frequently featured in traditional Italian spreads.
When preparing, cut provolone into thin slices or small wedges. Try to use both Provolone Dolce (mild) and Provolone Piccante (sharp) if available, to give guests a range of flavors.
A mix of soft and hard cheeses is ideal, for example, you can also use mozzarella (fresh balls or slices), Parmigiano-Reggiano (in chunks), Gorgonzola, or another type of blue cheese.
Provolone pairs wonderfully with a variety of items commonly found on antipasto platters:
- Cured Meats: Such as salami, prosciutto, coppa, or mortadella.
- Olives: Both green and black varieties, or even better, a mix of different marinated olives.
- Marinated Vegetables: Think artichoke hearts, sun-dried tomatoes, roasted red peppers, or pickled vegetables.
- Nuts: Almonds, walnuts, or other nuts can add crunch.
- Breads and Crackers: Fresh crusty Italian bread,
Provoleta (Grilled Provolone)
“Provoleta” is a traditional Argentine dish made with provolone cheese. It’s basically a melted cheese appetizer that’s a beloved start to any Argentine barbecue (asado). The cheese gets a crispy crust on the outside while remaining soft and gooey inside.
This method of preparation is deeply tied to Argentina’s love for grilling and barbecued foods.
The provolone cheese used for Provoleta in Argentina has some distinct characteristics compared to the Italian original. Argentina, with its rich history of Italian immigration, naturally incorporated many Italian culinary traditions. Over time, this cheese was incorporated into the Argentine culinary landscape and found its place in the barbecue tradition as provoleta.
Unlike Italian provolone, which can be aged for extended periods and can vary from mild to very sharp, the provolone used for Provoleta is typically younger and milder. This ensures that it has a consistent melt and flavor when grilled.
The Philadelphia cheesesteak, often simply called a “cheesesteak”, is an iconic sandwich made up of thinly sliced pieces of beefsteak and melted cheese in a long hoagie roll. While there are different cheese options for a cheesesteak (including American cheese and Cheez Whiz), provolone is one of the traditional choices.
It’s known for its simple, yet delicious combination of thinly sliced beefsteak and melted cheese, all served on a long roll.
The exact origins of the Philly cheesesteak are a bit murky, with several stories and families claiming to have invented or popularized it. However, most accounts trace its creation back to the 1930s. Pat and Harry Olivieri are often credited with its invention. The story goes that Pat Olivieri, a hot dog vendor, decided to put some beef on his grill, and it became a hit, eventually leading to the establishment of Pat’s King of Steaks in South Philadelphia. The addition of cheese came later, and it elevated the sandwich to legendary status.
Over the years, the Philly cheesesteak has grown in popularity far beyond Pennsylvania, and you can now find variations of the sandwich all over the U.S. and even internationally. However, many aficionados believe that to get a true Philly cheesesteak, you have to visit Philadelphia and eat it there.
While the basic cheesesteak consists of meat, cheese, and bread, many people enjoy additions like sautéed onions, peppers, or mushrooms. When someone orders a cheesesteak “wit” in Philly, it means they want onions. If they say “witout,” they’re requesting no onions.
Stuffed Cherry Peppers with Prosciutto and Provolone
Stuffed cherry peppers with prosciutto and provolone are a popular Italian-American appetizer. These small bites are packed with flavor, combining the spiciness of the peppers with the savory richness of the cheese and prosciutto.
It has its roots in Italian culinary traditions, specifically from the southern regions of Italy where both spicy peppers and various cured meats are staple ingredients. From stuffed tomatoes and zucchini to peppers, Italian cuisine often marries fresh produce with rich, savory fillings.
While peppers are native to the Americas, they were introduced to Europe, including Italy, in the 16th century following Columbus’s voyages. In the warm climates of southern Italy, these plants thrived. Over the centuries, peppers became an integral part of the region’s cuisine. The hot cherry pepper, with its fiery punch, is particularly popular in regions like Calabria and Campania.
As with many Italian dishes, the popularity of stuffed cherry peppers spread with the Italian diaspora. Italian immigrants introduced their culinary traditions to new homes, particularly in places like the United States. In Italian-American communities, these peppers became a popular appetizer, often found in delis and Italian specialty markets.
Stuffed cherry peppers are a part of the antipasti tradition. These starters often include a mix of cured meats, cheeses, olives, and marinated or stuffed vegetables.
Pittsburgh-style sandwiches are a unique and iconic culinary creation associated with Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Their defining characteristic is the inclusion of several typically separate side items directly on the sandwich.
The Pittsburgh-style sandwich reflects the city’s blue-collar roots and pragmatic spirit. It’s hearty, no-nonsense, and filled with a blend of textures and flavors that surprise first-time eaters and keep locals coming back.
The typical Pittsburgh-style sandwich starts with thick slices of Italian bread. Inside, you’ll find grilled meat (most commonly steak, but sometimes sausage, chicken, or fish), cheese (often provolone), and is topped with fresh vinegar-based coleslaw, tomatoes, and French fries. Yes, the fries are actually inside the sandwich, adding a unique texture and flavor.
The sandwich is most famously associated with Primanti Bros., a restaurant in Pittsburgh’s Strip District. The story goes that the sandwich was initially designed for truckers and other workers in the 1930s. These workers and truck drivers wanted a meal that could be easily eaten with one hand without the need for sides, so the sandwich was crafted with everything inside, including the fries and slaw.
While the sandwich started as a local specialty, its reputation has grown, and it’s become an iconic representation of Pittsburgh cuisine.
Today, even though Primanti Bros. has multiple locations in and out of Pittsburgh, many other establishments have created their own renditions of the famed sandwich.