Shepherd’s Steak – Abruzzo’s Pastoral Cheese on Toast

Shepherd SteakWe were sent this recipe for Shepherd’s Steak by our organic cheese-making friends at La Porta dei Parchi, in response to a request we had for an Abruzzo Cheese recipe. The enquiry was from a lady in the US who is writing an international book on cheese and wanted to feature something of Abruzzo, due in particular to the region’s reputation for making excellent pecorino (sheep’s cheese), considered second-to-none across Italy.

Not only is this recipe delicious, vegetarian and super quick, it also combines two of my favourite ingredients: cheese and mint. For any halloumi cheese lovers this is a dish that you’re bound to relish, as well as being a canny roadmap to the socio-economic history of Abruzzo.   You can easily imagine Abruzzo’s shepherds putting this together at the end of the day from the ingredients in their knapsacks, utilising milk from the sheep and chopping a little mint and other meadow herbs that the sheep have grazed on through the day; you wouldn’t be eating your main assets after all!

It also answers one of my recent questions about what my neighbours do with the stale bread when they buy in bulk for a long bank holiday weekend, as I know for sure the oldies in the village don’t go in for Tuscan Panzanella-like salads, this is no doubt one of the supper dishes they cook using up that hard bread.   Like other regions in Italy with a high diaspora rate, this traditional Abruzzo dish points to inventive recycling with leftovers, made perhaps with an old slice of baguette & left in the oven for another 5 minutes it would make great party finger food; we ate it with some raw sweet fava beans (broad beans)…it leaves cheese on toast out for the count.

Abruzzese Shepherd's Steak

A traditional Abruzzo cheese recipe that combines 2 of my favourite ingredients cheese & mint as well as being a canny roadmap to its socio-economic history
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: cheese, pecorino
Yield: 1 Person
Author: Sam Dunham


  • 2 Slices Stale Bread
  • 50 ml Milk
  • 1 Red Onion finely sliced
  • 100 g Young Pecorino (aged 1 to 3 months or a similar cheese)
  • Fresh mint leaves


  • Cut the onion into thin slices; dip the slices of bread in the milk both sides and place in a shallow roasting tin.
  • Add the onion onto the bread (at this point I also added a little ground black pepper) and then cover with slices of cheese.
  • Put it into the oven (180 ° C) until onion is cooked (about 10 min.).   Add mint leaves and enjoy!

Location fo La Porta dei Parchi







Sam Dunham
Author: Sam Dunham

Sam is a very lucky midlife 'mamma' to A who is 12 and juggles her work as a self-employed freelance SEO food and travel copywriter and EFL teacher. She is the founder of the Life In Abruzzo Cultural Association, co-founder of Let's Blog Abruzzo. she is the founder of the 'English in the Woods' initiative, teaching English outdoors in a forest style school.

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18 July 2011 21:34

Thank you for a most enlightening post. My grandfather who was from Abruzzo snacked on essentially this treat – and now I know why. Mille grazie

Serena Mariani
Serena Mariani
28 April 2016 14:21

I didn’t even know about this!

Sam Dunham
Sam Dunham
28 April 2016 20:19
Reply to  Serena Mariani

It was a great discovery, so glad that they shared the recipe

Christina Yocca
29 April 2016 00:18

Ahhh, memories. They served this at the end of the tranzhumanza when I went with La Porta dei Parchi.

Life in Abruzzo
29 April 2016 05:50

I’m so envious, one day I’ll get to go on it

Life in Abruzzo
27 April 2016 13:22

Do you think that’s because of the diversity of each province? We’re always so surprised how different dishes are just 15 km down the road. This recipe was given to us to share by Nuncio Marcelli (the region’s head shepherd) whose farm, La Porti dei Parchi is in Anversa degli Abruzzi AQ

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