Lidia Bastianich's Cheese Rule You Should Never Break

Ah, the wide, wonderful world of cheese. We don't know about you, but we never seem to tire of the dairy goodness offered by this extensive category, whether we're piling American between two slices of bread for a grilled cheese sandwich, broiling up some Gruyere toasts to top a bowl of French onion soup, or layering some fresh mozzarella between sliced tomatoes for an always-popular Caprese salad.

Television food personalities seem to like their cheese, too. Let's take Lidia Bastianich, for example. This well-respected chef, restaurant owner, cookbook author, and public television host is known for her deep and comprehensive knowledge of Italian cuisine. Partly raised in the northeast area of Italy known as Istria, Bastianich immigrated to the United States as a child, eventually acquiring a love of cooking and opening a series of Italian restaurants (via The New York Times). The host of several shows, including "Lidia's Italian Kitchen," Bastianich has a clear affection for cheese, as evidenced by dairy-heavy recipes on her website such as Montasio cheese crisps, pizza rolls with ricotta, and home-style lasagna.

Bastianich is a big fan of Grana Padano, which she has described as her "favorite grated cheese" (via Twitter). But she has a pretty specific rule about how you should select your cheese.

Don't go for the pre-grated cheese

If you like cheese, you would probably like Grana Padano, which is a nutty-tasting aged cow's milk cheese that is similar to Parmigiano-Reggiano (via The Spruce Eats). It works well in a variety of recipes: folded into risotto, used in stews, and, of course, showered atop pasta. If you like Grana Padano, you've probably seen it in stores in a variety of forms, among them grated and in wedges.

Lidia Bastianich, arguably the doyenne of Italian cuisine in the United States, says that you should avoid the pre-grated cheese. Discussing a go-to soup recipe that uses Grana Padano, she told Taste of Home, "I always tell everyone to buy chunks of cheese." Why? "None of that grated cheese works because it loses some of the flavor. Get a chunk."

This advice applies to pretty much any type of cheese. In a different article, Taste of Home points out that pre-grated varieties don't melt as evenly as cheese grated at home, are more expensive than blocks of cheese, and may contain anti-clumping additives such as potato starch. So now you know: Go for the chunk, and avoid the grated. Your cooking will be the tastier for it.