I saw this nifty little trick done on No Reservations when Bourdain went to Rome, and had to give it a try. Imagine a delicious taco salad in a hard shelled bowl, and now replace the taco salad with spaghetti and replace the bowl with CHEESE! That’s righht– BOWLS MADE OF CHEESE!
First thing’s first, grate your wedge of delightful, high quality parm, and mix in about a tablespoon of crushed black pepper.
You could theoretically use any hard cheese (Asiago, Pecorino, Romano, etc.), but since this was the first try, we’ll do the traditional. I’d pick up a medium-sized wedge, but you could use as much or as little as you’d like, depending on how thick you want the bowl. Just remember not to overdo it, or it’ll never harden. By the way, if you do a lot of grating, I cannot recommend investing in a rotary grater highly enough!
OK, you’ve got your cheese grated, so now you need to make ‘molds’ for the bowls. I just used a couple of soup bowls covered in foil and brushed with a nice olive oil:
Next, we take a crepe pan, and lightly brush with olive oil, and put it on the stove at about medium. Don’t want it too high, or the cheese will burn, and don’t want it too low or you won’t get a nice, even cheese pancake. Then, we sprinkle the cheese fairly evenly around the bottom of the pan:
Give it a little time on the stove, but don’t leave., and don’t stir the cheese. You want to keep an eye on it and watch for the very moment that the grated cheese melts together into a solid ‘pancake,’ but you don’t want it to get too liquidy and run off of the mold.
Now comes the tricky part: put your bowl mold into the center of the pancake, and flip the whole thing over. The cheese should drape over the bowl, remaining after you’ve removed the crepe pan. You may need to shape it manually a little, but as long as the basic shape is there, you’re golden.
Next, put your cheese-covered bowl mold into the fridge, and leave it for at least an hour. If all worked well, after the hour is up, you can remove the mold, and you’ll have a really nifty, quite impressive bowl made of cheese!
Fill with anything that suits your fancy. The only caveat is that the bowl is made of cheese, so if it gets too hot it’ll melt. I wouldn’t recommend serving a hot marinara or anything. We just drizzled some olive oil over some spaghetti, tossed in a few olives and some fresh farmer’s market tomatoes, and topped with (of course) more cheese.
This would also be an excellent— and impressive– way to serve salad at your next function.
Make some parmesan cheese bowls today!