The history of Pecorino Romano dates back thousands of years. Even as far back as 48 AD Virgil, writing on the topic of nutrition, tells us that the daily consumption allocated to each soldier was 27 grams each day. The ration was included in the staple daily meal, spelt soup, which gave soldiers the energy they needed to face battles and unending journeys in what was, then, the unknown world. Thanks to its nutritional properties and the ease with which it could be transported and conserved, the cheese’s transformation techniques were shared over the centuries in Tuscany and Sardinia.
Today, Pecorino Romano is made in Lazio, Sardinia and in the province of Grossetto – territories with ideal conditions for its production: indigenous breeds of cows, and unspoilt pastures that are rich in herbs that give the cheese its characteristically intense flavor. The cheese is nutritious, genuine, rich in proteins and easy to digest. The subtle ivory or strawcoloured rind can be left as it is or covered with a black coating. The dough is strong and compact or even slightly holey and is white or straw-coloured. The taste is fragrant, slightly spicy and full bodied as a table cheese; intensely spicy with varied taste once grated. The maturation period is about 5 months for table Pecorino Romano; 8 months for the grated variety. The cheese comes in cylindrical shape – its weight can vary from 25 kg to 35 kg; it is between 25
and 40 cm in depth and 25 to 35 cm in breadth. On the base the cheese carries the mark of origin that is made up of a diamond with rounded edges; in the centre is the figure of a goat and the words Pecorino Romano.
To preserve its characteristic features, Pecorino Romano should be conserved in the fridge and tied up with paper or a cotton cloth and – to get the most of its fragrant taste – it should be kept at room temperature for at least an hour before serving.
Spaghetti with cheese and pepper with cream of broad beans
Ingredients for 4 people:
• 320 g spaghetti
• 80 g of grated Pecorino Romano
• 500 g broad beans
• 1 small fresh onion
• A drop of extra virgin olive oil
Take the beans out of their pods and put them in boiling water for 10 seconds. Clean and fry the onion with a little oil, add the beans and cover with water. Add salt and pepper and add mint leaves to taste.
Leave to cook for a few minutes before whisking the mixture together to form a green, smooth and homogenous liquid. Cook the spaghetti according to instructions in slightly salted water. When al dente, drain the pasta and conserve a little of the cooking water. In a frying pan heat the Pecorino Romano, the cooking water and the pepper until it forms a cream. Distribute the broad bean sauce and the spaghetti on plates, sprinkling Pecorino Romano and pepper on top.