Whether you’re an aspiring gourmet, a novice cheese connoisseur, or someone who is just obsessed with eating cheese and throwing parties— chances are you might be overlooking one of the most versatile and tasty cheeses around. When you discover what you can do with Fontina cheese (or Fontal, but we’ll get to that later), you’ll want to add it to your weekly grocery list for entertaining, cooking, and even daily snacking.
And with that, let’s get into all things you can do with this cheese. (Spoiler alert if you want the highlight reel: Fontina and Fontal are nearly interchangeable when it comes to taste and texture, and they’re both perfect for melting, sauce making, easy entertaining, egg scrambling, and can be substituted in for most other cheeses.)
What is Fontina cheese?
Fontina cheese enjoys a rich history in Italian culinary culture. This cheese dates back to the 12th century where it was first produced from the milk of cows who grazed in the rich pastures of the Valle d’Aosta mountains of northwestern Italy. Fontina was then aged in nearby caves for three to five months, as the caves were found to provide the ideal environment of low temperatures and humidity levels for aging.
What’s the difference between Fontina and Fontal?
We’ve talked about PDO status several times around here before. The Protected Designation of Origin comes from legislation handed down in 1992 to protect regional foods, and Fontina has PDO status for that area in Italy we mentioned above. So, Fontal is the domestic version of Fontina cheese (just like Parmigiano-Reggiano versus Parmesan). Our Fontal is produced from pasteurized cow’s milk, and is a bit milder than the original Fontina. The result is a unique taste that is modern, sweet yet still buttery, and perfect for being enhanced with spices, sauces, and rubs. Everything you can do with Fontina cheese applies to Fontal, so since Fontal is what you’ll see most often in the United States, from here on out that’s what we’ll use in this article.
At Cello we use that mild taste to our advantage by rubbing our Fontal with different seasonings—eight to be exact. The result is a cheese that enhances everything, from a cheese board to your favorite homemade pizza. Using one of the rubbed Fontal cheeses in a simple recipe can take an ordinary dish to the next level. This way, you can fool your friends into thinking you’ve spent hours in the kitchen instead of slicing up a wedge and adding it to an easy recipe. We call that a win.
Its versatility makes this cheese an ideal choice for most dishes, so have fun discovering new ways you can work it into your everyday repertoire.
What can you do with Fontal cheese?
1. Melt it
Any member of the Fontal cheese family is well-suited for melting. A basic grilled cheese is next-level good when you substitute your usual cheese choice with a spice rubbed Fontal. If you prefer something truly different and want to be transported to an Italian pub, add our Tuscan Fontal to this grilled cheese recipe.
If you love a gooey layer of cheese atop stuffed shells, baked ravioli, or as the final layer of lasagna, try Fontal as the finishing touch on your final pasta layer. Plus, we already mentioned it’s an ideal cheese to use for your next pizza party!
2. Make a sauce
If pasta is one of your mealtime staples, you’ll enjoy exploring different sauce recipes featuring Fontal. As a smooth melting cheese, the addition of Fontal to a tomato-based sauce can lend to a surprisingly smooth and buttery finish that balances the acidity of the tomatoes.
One of the best reasons to use Fontal in a cream based sauce is that it melts seamlessly and eliminates the need for a roux, which requires a precise temperature and amount of whisking to perfect. Using this cheese in your next alfredo dish will help the sauce instantly cling to the texture of all pasta. When you choose a tube-shaped pasta like a penne or a macaroni, the hollow vessel becomes a tasty trap for that smooth, creamy sauce.
Our smoky pepper Fontal is sure to add some zing to your next macaroni and cheese dish. Substitute some of the Parmesan in this hearty recipe with the rubbed Fontal to impress a crowd—one batch serves up to eight people!
3. Entertain with ease
If you’re a fan of appetizers or tapas, Fontal cheese is a must-have for your next small plate soiree. For a fun and traditional party food, get out the fondue pot and melt one of the rubbed Fontals for a surprisingly flavorful tasting experience. If it’s a fall football party, try the pumpkin spice Fontal paired with crusty bread or the best of the harvest’s apples and pears. For an Oktoberfest celebration, go for a fondue using the Fontal rubbed with dijon and herb and paired with pretzels for dipping and a rich, dark German beer for sipping.
It’s not a real party without a fried appetizer, and this Arancini recipe can be prepped in just 30 minutes if you have leftover risotto. Or if you’re in a hurry and just want a show stopping cheese board for your guests, a spice rubbed Fontal cheese is great with dried fruits like dark raisins, figs, and dried black or blueberries.
4. Add it to eggs
Fontal’s smooth texture and buttery finish pair well with eggs prepared almost any way. But if you’re looking to elevate your scrambled eggs, grate some over your next batch to make breakfast feel like it’s coming from your favorite diner.
If you have a tradition of preparing a make-ahead breakfast for overnight guests or special occasions like Christmas morning, a hearty winter breakfast strata is perfect to be made ahead of time and balances the crunch of crispy potatoes and crusty bread with the creaminess of airy eggs and gooey Fontal. Save some prep time by swapping out the fresh herbs and use a rubbed Fontal, like the smoky pepper wedge or the fragrant bergamot and hibiscus. Both cheese flavors also pair well with cured meats like ham and bacon. Slide on your fuzzy slippers and grab a mimosa for total cozy indulgence.
5. Substitute it
No matter what kind of food you prepare with cheeses like cheddar, mozzarella, provolone or Swiss, if you substitute with Fontal cheese, you’re in for a treat. That’s because the mild taste and smooth, slightly nutty finish make it a great choice for everything from pizza to sandwiches, to a quick and satisfying standalone snack.
And when you substitute with one of the eight available rubbed Fontal cheeses, you’ll elevate your next dip, dish, or snack and be cheesing confidently with ease.