One Cheese Five Ways: Mozzarella | culture: the word on cheese
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One Cheese Five Ways: Mozzarella

Written and photographed by Derek Bissonnette

Fresh mozzarella is a non-aged, semi-soft, rindless cheese (try saying that five times fast!), typically made with cow’s milk in the United States, but it can also be made with goat, sheep, and buffalo’s milk (the latter used most in Italy). Mozzarella stretches and melts beautifully, is available in a variety of shapes, and is often named for its size. For example, “ciliegine” translates to cherries, so ciliegine mozzarella is named because it resembles the round, bite-size fruit. Mozzarella often appears on margherita pizzas, antipasti plates, or stealing the show in a Caprese salad, but we’ve crafted a summer spread that highlights the fresh Italian staple in five clever ways. Saluti!

Cheese provided by Caputo Cheese

Cornbread Panzanella Salad with Mozzarella

Swapping traditional bread with cornbread modernizes this classic. Sweet cornbread complements rich and creamy mozzarella, while acidity from tomatoes and balsamic vinegar provide balance. Grit from the cornmeal adds just the right amount of texture to contrast the delicate cheese. Serve as a side or add a protein to make it a main course. For best results, make the cornbread a day in advance.

Maine Lobster Croissant Toastie

Take your traditional lobster roll to the next level! In Maine, there are two types of lobster rolls: warm with butter or cold with mayo. This elevated recipe combines the two by layering a flaky croissant with melted mozzarella, a generous swipe of sweet bacon jam, Maine lobster in a mayo and crème fraîche bath, and topped with spicy arugula.

Mozzarella Ice Cream with Confit Tomatoes, Candied Basil, and Balsamic Reduction

Cheese ice cream—what!? Sugar plays a vital role in the consistency of freshly churned ice cream, so it’s important to choose sweet ingredients to marry in savory components. Since mozzarella is mild, the natural milk sugars are drawn out—a perfect addition to ice cream. Imagine a scoop of this in your summer gazpacho! This recipe requires an ice cream maker.

Thumbprint Pasta Salad

This recipe uses orecchiette mozzarella, which looks likes thumb prints and resembles the pasta shape by the same name. (Fun Fact: orecchiette translates to “little ears.”) If you can’t find orecchiette mozzarella, you can cut any fresh mozzarella into 1⁄2-inch cubes. The cheese is added to warm pasta toward the end of cooking, melting to a soft and stringy consistency. Mint provides a bright note in the deconstructed pesto, resulting in a fresh summer bite.

Mozzarella Sticks with Marinara

Sounds boring, right? Give these chain restaurant staples an upgrade by making them at home with quality cheese and homemade marinara. Patience is key: don’t skip triple breading and freezing overnight. By frying frozen, the batter will seal around the mozzarella and you won’t be left with a mess.

Derek Bissonnette

A former chef who worked in bakeries and three Michelin-starred restaurants throughout America and Europe, Derek Bissonnette has switched gears and now documents his passion for creating food with his camera (One Cheese, Five Ways, p. 25). Derek is the author and photographer of six cookbooks and is currently working on his seventh. He combines his skills for recipe development, styling, and photography at his studio in Saco, Maine.

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