3 Recipes with Mozzarella
Confession time. I am a non-cheese eater. There. I’ve said it. To most foodies this is unthinkable, I know. It’s where I fall down as a Glutton! Just all of a sudden one day I was eating it and had to stop – I just wasn’t enjoying the flavour or texture. I hope one day to enjoy it again, but I’m not there yet. That said, my husband is a vegetarian, so I get to cook with cheese regularly and try out lots of exciting things, with a very willing test-subject to give me feedback. This is a great compromise for me as a cook and for my husband as a fan of fromage!
Recently he was really craving cheese having been without (well, almost!) for a few weeks. This coincided neatly with us happening upon an Italian deli near our flat which had a fabulous fresh buffalo mozzarella just ripe for the picking. So we scooped it up and discussed different things to try out. After much discussion it became apparent that we couldn’t agree. The diner wanted a classic pairing of tomato and basil in a Caprese salad. The chef wanted something with a little more actual cookery involved. We decided that luckily there was enough for both and one more for luck, so here are my 3 takes on buffalo mozzarella for you to try.
The diner’s choice.
A simple dish which takes no time and hardly needs explaining, so I will just take you quickly through the steps I followed, which I feel get the best flavours out of the ingredients. I won’t give precise amounts as this can be adjusted to suit how many people you are cooking for. Just make sure you use roughly the same amount of mozzarella to tomatoes.
* First, slice your mozzarella thickly and your ripe tomatoes half as thick. This helps balance the two flavours.
* Second, muddle 5/6 big basil leaves (the big ones have the most flavour) with a sprinkle of salt and best quality olive oil in a pestle and mortar. Mix til the olive oil takes on the oil from the basil leaves and turns slightly green. Remove the leaves at this point.
* Third, pop the toms, cheese and some fresh basil leaves, torn or chopped, onto your plate. There’s no real benefit to any particular arrangement, so just do it however you think is prettiest.
* Finally, liberally drizzle with your green oil, add a little salt and lots and lots of black pepper.
We served ours very simply with lettuce dressed with the basil oil & balsamic vinegar, black olives and some ciabatta sliced thin and drizzled with the remaining drops of basil oil. Delicious!
I feel adding basil to the oil really brings out the flavours in this dish, but it’s not tradtional so just use plain oil if you prefer. It is important to ensure that your mozzarella is really cold and your tomatoes are at (warm) room temperature.
If you haven’t got great mozzarella and fantastic tomatoes, then probably don’t bother. I mean, if you’re craving it then go for it, but otherwise you’ll be underwhelmed. It’s all about the clean, milky, slightly grassy taste of the mozzarella bouncing off the rich tart-sweet tomatoes and the pungent basil. If you’ve just got some faintly plasticky mozzarella from the supermarket then cook it instead, it’ll go nice and stringy and be much more enjoyable that way.
Speaking of cooking mozzarella… recipe number two (my choice)
Sesame Mozzarella Bites with Sweet Chilli Dipping Sauce
The chef’s choice.
Another dish which is simple to prepare and does its best to showcase one of the fabulous mozzarella’s best features – the gloopy stringy stretchiness of it!
You will need:
Black & White sesame seeds
Salt & Pepper
Sweet Chilli dipping sauce to serve
To make these delicious mozzarella morsels you need to:
1 – Chop the mozzarella into large cubes. These need to hold together while cooking, so it should be a bit bigger than postage stamp size. Because mozzarella is round they won’t be even cubes. Don’t worry, just make sure there’s some heft to them so that when you pop them in the hot oil they don’t just wilt away to nothing.
2 – Leave them to dry a little. Discard any water which comes out of them and pat dry with a paper towel.
3 – Get 3 small plates ready with whisked egg on one, seasoned flour on another and a mix of black and white sesame seeds on the last.
4 – You need to work fast for the next few steps, so put your pan on to heat now. Make sure there is plenty of oil in the pan, enough to half cover the cubes.
5 – Roll all your mozzarella cubes in flour. Be firm, the flour needs to stick on all sides.
6 – Roll them all in the egg – again make sure it covers ALL sides
7 – Roll them in the sesame seeds, making sure they are totally covered. You want to create a firm seal all the way round to ensure no leakage of the precious gooey cheese while cooking.
8 – Get them straight into the hot oil. I say you have to work fast here because buffalo mozzarella is stored in water and is a very moist cheese, so you need to get them cooking before the moisture begins to leak out and break the seal you’ve carefully created.
9 – When cooking, don’t move them around much. Let the bottom half cook really well til properly golden brown, then quickly flip them with a pair of metal tongs. Be delicate – don’t split them in half by accident or squeeze too hard so they pop!
10 – When both sides are golden (or if they start to ooze) pop them on a paper towel to drain for a couple of seconds.
Eat these molten mozzarella bites with sweet chilli dip as soon as they are cool enough. Don’t leave it too long though, they are much less fun when the cheese cools again!
By the way, if you can’t get black sesame seeds then you can just use normal ones. The black ones look cooler and have improved depth of flavour, but it won’t spoil the dish. If you can only get cheaper mozzarella, don’t worry about it. This will work well with either kind!
Mozzarella, Courgette and Almond Salad
With some of our delicious buffalo mozzarella left we decided to make the last dish an experiment. My fellow Glutton Sally has an abundance of courgettes and has been looking for ways to use them. Plus when I told her I would be writing about mozzarella her words were something to the effect of “worst of all the cheeses”. So, I dedicate this dish to her.
This was an experiment dish, so the recipe below is a guide to creating something similar – don’t feel you have to stick slavishly to it. For example, I think pine nuts might be a nice swap for the almonds and possibly mint a good choice to switch for basil. Next time I would also add a little crushed garlic to the dressing for more of a kick. This salad is a very light refreshing summer meal, but would benefit from a little extra flavour boost to make it really more-ish. This makes a light lunch for 2 or a big lunch for 1.
As an aside, marinated courgettes as a salad are really lovely and would be delicious alongside a piece of fish or meat too.
150-200g fresh buffalo mozzarella (in salads always use the best quality you can get – as mentioned above)
1 red chilli
10 basil leaves
Toasted almonds – plain, not salted and flaked if possible
Salt & Pepper
• Cut your courgettes into ribbons. I did this using a vegetable peeler as this was the best way to get lovely thin ribbons for the salad. Simply discard the first couple of peels which are mainly skin and then firmly scrape all the way down the length of the courgette to produce a lovely thin slice.
• Pull your mozzarella apart into small chunks. The courgette is in ribbons so it is nice to have a rough texture to the mozzarella to contrast. Also because the ribbons are very thin, you need small pieces of cheese to balance – about the size of a clove of garlic. Leave these in a sieve to drain to remove extra moisture.
• Prepare the courgette marinade with sliced red chilli – I used half, it wasn’t quite hot enough, so judge based on the heat of your chilli and how spicy you like it. Add basil oil (prepared as above) and lemon juice. I used two tablespoons of each. Add a couple of thinly sliced basil leaves too and plenty of black pepper.
• Toss the courgette ribbons in the marinade and leave to soak up the flavours for 20 minutes – this takes away any bitterness and improves the texture of the raw courgette.
• Taste the marinade as this is the dressing for the salad. I found that mine needed an extra tablespoon of basil oil to balance the sharp lemons, but not too much more so that it still stayed light.
• Mix the mozzarella into the courgettes. Rip up remaining basil leaves and add to the bowl. Taste for seasoning.
• Plate up and sprinkle liberally with the toasted almonds. I served my almonds in halves, but this was too big – chop them up finer or use flaked ones if you can get them.
I hope you’ve enjoyed my three mozzarella recipes. It was fun to create some new dishes with an ingredient I don’t use much. And to see my husband’s happy face as he tucked into his cheese – after I’d taken loads of photos of course!
Have you got any good mozzarella tips or recipes? Please share them in the comments if you do!