Salsa di Parmigiano; Homemade Advent Calendar, for next year perhaps

Salsa di Parmigiano

Yesterday I spent the afternoon with two of my aunts in northern Virginia. Over the course of seven hours, we found a reason to use this sauce — salsa di Parmigiano — three times. For our lunch, we spread it onto French bread and made paninis filled with artichoke hearts, golden cherry tomatoes, and fontina cheese; for the children’s dinner, we tossed it with pasta; for our meze-style dinner, we spooned it onto grilled bread, which we ate all evening along with some olives, feta, and various other treats. It was a delicious spread, but this dipping sauce received the most attention by everyone who joined the party.

This is a nice little sauce to know. Made mostly in the food processor, it comes together in less than ten minutes and makes enough to last you for weeks. Apparently, at Michael Chiarello’s Bottega, every table receives a bowl of the sauce along with crispy bread before the main courses arrive. Sounds heavenly.

For the homemade advent calendar, see below.

Giveaway from Minted: It has been so much fun hearing about all of your favorite homemade food gifts — preserved lemons, Barbara Tropp’s China Moon Chili-Orange Oil, meyer lemon curd, homemade sriracha, pickled green tomatoes, dulce de leche, peppermint marshmallows, peach nectarine syrup, runner bean chutney, eggnog cookies, Molly Wizenberg’s triple layer peppermint bark, John the Electrician’s Kahlua Bread, homemade Limoncello, cowboy candy, flavored compound butters, sea salt caramels, and bourbon cherries to name a few — but it is time to end the giveaway. The Minted gift certificate goes to: Kari Pollack.

ingredients for salsa di Parmigiano

cheese in cuisinart

sauce minus the olive oil

Salsa di Parmigiano

Source: Michael Chiarello

1/2 pound Parmesan, not too dry
1/2 pound Asiago cheese, not too dry
2 to 3 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons chopped scallions
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (I used 2, but start with 1)
1 to 1 1/2 cups extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1. Remove any rind from the cheeses and chop the cheeses into rough 1-inch chunks. Pulse the cheeses and garlic in a food processor until reduced to a fine, pea-sized gravel. Transfer this mixture to a bowl and stir in the scallions.

2. Add the oregano, rubbing it between your fingers over the bowl, red pepper flakes, 1 cup of the olive oil and black pepper. Stir. If mixture seems dry, add more olive oil by the 1/4 cup. Cover and let stand at room temperature for at least 4 hours before using.

Salsa di Parmigiano

advent calendar & stockings

I have had my eye on this advent calendar from Terrain since seeing it on The Garden of Eden last December. I was tempted to buy it last January after it went on sale and am still tempted to buy it — it’s so beautiful and it’s now on sale again — but I’ve assembled a homemade version that will suffice in the meantime. It was really fun and relatively easy to put together, and I am sure you real crafters out there have better knowledge regarding stamping and fabric paint that will make the process even easier.

These are the materials I used:

• Two sets of these spice bags from Sur La Table
• clear plastic stamp set from Michael’s (I can’t find it online)
• red paint — I just used a tube I had, not specific for fabric, and it worked ok
• green wire from Michael’s (again, can’t find it online)
• stumps sawed off from Xmas tree*
• electric drill
• nails for hanging

*I had two saved from Christmases past and had to go scrounge for a third at a Christmas tree lot.

Notes: If you are interested in making this advent calendar, I suggest buying the bags first. They’re cheap ($7.95 for 12), and if you don’t use them for the advent calendar, you can make mulled cider spice sachets instead — this blog post is where I first learned of the bags. Then, I suggest taking one of the bags with you to a craft store like Michael’s, where you can look at the various stamp sets and see if they’ll fit on the bags. There were not too many sets left at my Michael’s, just a head’s up, so you might have better luck online, though I found it hard to find specs on many of the stamp sets I was interested in. Paper Source has some beautiful sets, too.


hanging bags

hanging bags


  1. says

    I love how this is called a ‘salsa’ but it is pretty much cheese and oil. I was interested from your description and then I saw the photos of the processed cheese and I got really excited!

    I think I will have to make this at my friends house next week when I go stay – she loves cheese!

    • says

      Colleen — it’s actually Greek oregano. My mother always brings me bags of it — it is in branch form — it has a nice flavor. It’s sometimes a pain bc the little twigs break off into whatever you are adding but overall i love it.

  2. says

    Okay, I am going to first make this Salsa di Parmigiano and then marvel (again) at how great your advent calendar turned out. I love it! Terrain has nothing on you.

  3. jolene says

    I just made this for the in-laws yesterday and they loved it! Thanks for the great recipe – it was really easy to throw together as well.

  4. says

    Okay, so this salsa di parmigiano is absolutely awesome? Four hours of waiting before eating it? I couldn’t resist! I ate some with a spoon and then more on my pasta for dinner. The only downside I can find so far is that I can’t think of how to eat it for breakfast. So good and simple.

  5. Emmy says

    What a fun idea for an advent calendar. I’m wishing I’d stumbled upon this post last week. Guess I’ll just have to save the idea for next year. What kinds of fun goodies did you put in each bag?

    • says

      Emmy — so glad you like it! Well, I basically just scrounged some things up from around the house, mostly things that the kids have sort of forgotten about — bouncy balls, mini play doughs, mini bubbles (birthday party favors), silly putty, chocolate, mini snow globes, mini ornaments, matchbox cars, pop-up sponges, etc. If I were making it for my husband, I would have a harder time filling the bags. He would appreciate chapstick, maybe some herbal tea (don’t tell him I told you), wallet sized photos of the kids, etc.

  6. Emmy says

    What an excellent idea for an advent calendar! I’ll have to keep this in mind for next year. What kinds of fun goodies did you put in the bags?

  7. Lollie ~ The Fortuitous Housewife says

    Oh my, this “salsa” looks AMAZING!
    Thinking I’ll make a test batch this weekend, and another batch for a Christmas present for my husband s Italian aunt.

  8. Pia says

    Holy moly!! This was soooooo good. I balked at first, after looking at quantity of cheese required. But a little of this goes a long way and it is so versatile. I served it as a an
    “horderve” of sorts (with thin slices of baguette) for a cookie party I had. Then used it on sandwiches, then some eggs and more recently loving it on pasta. Its ridiculously easy to make for all that flavor. This is going to be a regular in my fridge. oh yeah and I didn’t wait more than 1/2 hour for it to marinate 😉 Thanks so much Alexandra!! LOVE LOVE LOVE your blog and recipes.

    • says

      Pia — I know, the quantity of cheese is a little shocking, but it’s so true what you say — a little goes a long way and its uses seem to be unlimited. Love the idea of spooning it over eggs…haven’t tried that one yet. Thanks so much for your kind words. Happy New Year!

  9. Barbara Cardany says

    Loved the salsa!!! MAde it last night. Was eating before the 4 hours, Actually started right after I made it. Just one question, How long will this last? Should it be stored on counter or fridge? Thanks again for the recipe.

    • says

      Barbara — so happy to hear this! I would store it in the fridge, and if time allows, bring it to room temperature before serving/using. And, I have had a jar in my fridge for about two weeks now that I am still using — I used about 3/4 of it within a couple of days, and have been using the rest on pasta for my children’s dinner. So, while the authorities might not recommend storing it for much more than a week, I think you are safe for at least a couple of weeks if not longer. I think the olive oil helps preserve it? Don’t quote me :) Happy 2013! Thanks for writing in.

  10. says

    We love to eat applesauce throughout the year. I serve it with lunch or as a great after school snack. My husband loves it in the morning on toast or wheat pancakes. He especially loves it on hot wheat bread right out of the oven.

  11. says

    I have been to Bottega and always wondered how to make the magical Salsa di Parmigiano. Well now I can and you have made me the most popular hostess around! People go absolutely gaga for this stuff. Thank you for this recipe and the rest of your beautiful blog, which I am so enjoying following!

    • says

      Emily, so nice to hear from you! I have heard so much about you from Amy, and im sorry I never got to meet you while I was in CA. Very jealous of your experience at Bottega — I love Michael Chiarello’s food, though I’ve only tasted it via his cookbook, Tra Vigne. And I’m just so happy you like this salsa! It is such a good thing to have on hand.

  12. Alyssa says

    I’ve been dying to make this ever since you posted it, and I finally did! (Right now it is sitting for the requisite few hours before we begin devouring it). I’m wondering how to store the leftovers…do you keep it in the fridge, or can it be left at room temp for a few days? We’re going to serve it again at a dinner party in a few days and I’m not sure what to do. It seems like it wouldn’t be good cold, but I can’t imagine I can leave it out for too long. Maybe refrigerate, and then get it out early so it warms up before serving??

    • says

      Alyssa — so happy to hear that you’ve made this! And, I am impressed you are waiting the suggested few hours before tucking in. OK, so I stored the remainder of the salsa in a glass ball jar in the fridge, and then on the days when I wanted to use it again, I would take the jar out of the fridge about an hour before serving — just as you are suggesting. I suppose the ideal would be to store it in a few jars that way you aren’t taking out the same jar every time and returning the same jar to the fridge every time, but I have had no issues with it spoiling storing it the way I have described. I hope that helps!

  13. eli says

    Hello, I am a girl italiana.che say … in Italy the parmesan sauce is one other thing. but your sauce is really good … I provata.molto beautiful your live near venice but are native to southern Italy. lover of good food and especially the one with lots of vegetables. if you want some Italian recipe ask. still hello and congratulations for your blog … will copy a few recipes in America. sorry for my English but I used the google translator. ely

    • says

      Maravilloso escuchar esto. No te preocupes por el Inglés – estoy usando el traductor de google también. Así que me alegro usted tiene gusto del salsa. Y usted las gracias a por tu comentario nice!

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