Parmesan rinds have a not-so-secret depth that can flavor-boost your food. The cheese is more crystallized closer to the edge, and these crumbly bits imbue a pronounced nuttiness. It’s arguably the most flavorful part of the Parm, and at the top of the list of ingredients you should save for future dishes.
Although it’s commonly added to enhance a warming pot of Italian Pasta and Bean Soup—Pasta e Fagioli, there’s so much more this rind can do. Here are some recommendations for our favorite ways to use Parmesan rinds. (These suggestions also work with Pecorino Romano and Gruyere!) Waste not, want not.
How to Store Parmesan Rinds
Store Parmesan rinds in the freezer in a zipper-lock bag. They’ll last indefinitely; no need to thaw them before using.
1. Add it to risotto
Cook’s Illustrated’s Annie Petito knows a thing or two about using ingredients you’d normally toss. When it comes to Parmesan rinds, she has a special use for them: “I like to add a rind to my risotto once the liquid is in and the rice is simmering. In our Almost Hands-Free Risotto with Parmesan and Herbs, the bulk of the liquid is added at once and for me, it would be after that addition so it can hang with the rice and get cheesy.”
2. Make Parmesan stock!
Cook’s Illustrated’s Editor in Chief Dan Souza provided a simple recipe to make a flavor-maximizing broth: “One idea is to make straight Parmesan broth with a few of them. Can be simmered on the stovetop or done in an instant pot. Make, chill, freeze in small portions, and you can add it quickly to pan sauces, soups, stews, etc.”
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3. Add it to vegetable stock
Without the benefits of bones and collagen, vegetable stock often falls flat. Including a Parm rind adds depth without adding meat. When the stock is made in an Instant Pot, the pressure helps extract even more flavor from the rind.
4. Add it to soups and stews
ATK TV cast member and Italian food expert, Jack Bishop, suggested tossing one (or more!) Parm rinds into any pot of soup or stew. In our Wild Rice and Mushroom Soup, the Parmesan brings an extra hit of umami to bolster the meatiness of the mushrooms. It also adds dimension to our Hearty Minestrone.
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5. Add it to a pot of beans
ATK Reviews Deputy Editor and former cheesemonger, Kate Shannon, supplied the following: “My mind immediately goes to beans and greens . . . so anything kind of brothy with canned or dried beans and chopped kale or escarole, like Tuscan White Bean and Escarole Soup (Acquacotta) would probably benefit from a cheese rind.” For an extra-indulgent weeknight meal, pasta, beans, and greens come together with the help of Parmesan and its rind in a meaty, rich Pasta with Beans, Chard, and Rosemary for Two.
6. Add it to grains and lentils
Beans are most often associated with Parm rinds, but they also add savory flavor to grains, lentils, and pastas. Add it as you would to risotto—along with the broth. Whip up some Campanelle with Lentils to see for yourself how the cheesy flavor in a Parmesan rind beautifully complements the lentils’ earthy notes.