Mozzarella is a much-loved cheese, and for good reason. Creamy and mild, it pleases palates of all ages and makes even the simplest dish taste decadent (mozzarella and tomatoes, anyone?).
Mozzarella is a stretched curd cheese that originates from Italy. Mozzarella is usually made from cows' milk, unless it is called mozzarella di bufala, which is rare and made from the milk of water buffalo.
1. Styles of Mozzarella
"Packaged" or "firm" mozzarella has a semi-soft texture that can be grated. This type of mozzarella is mainly used for cooking (such as pizza or lasagna) since it melts well without becoming too watery.
Fresh mozzarella is usually sold in plastic containers and immersed in salted water or whey. Fresh mozzarella has a softer, creamier texture. The most common and largest shape that fresh mozzarella is sold in is a ball, about the size of an orange. Bocconcini is fresh mozzarella that's shaped into a slightly smaller ball (about the size of an egg) and ciliegine is smaller still (about the size of a cherry).
2. How to Make Homemade Mozzarella
There are many similar recipes for making mozzarella at home. A few good ones to try:
- Fresh Mozzarella recipe from Homecooking.About.com
- Ricki's Fresh Mozzarella recipe from New England Cheesemaking Supply Co.
- Fresh Mozzarella recipe from Barbara Kingsolver's Book, "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle"
- Fast, Fresh Mozzarella recipe from Culture cheese magazine
3. Mozzarella Appetizers
- Mozzarella, Tomato and Prosciutto
- Mozzarella, Tomatoes and Pesto
- Mozzarella, Asparagus & Tomatoes with Black Olive Tapenade
If you're in the mood for something new, try fresh mozzarella with other combinations of flavors:
- Asparagus Wrapped in Mozzarella and Prosciutto
- Mozzarella and Sundried Tomatoes
- Mozzarella and Pesto
- Mozzarella and Piquillo Peppers
- Mozzarella Prosciutto Rolls Stuffed with Olive Tapenade
- Mozzarella with Peaches and Walnut Bread
4. Mozzarella Main Courses
- Green Salad with Chicken and Mozzarella
- Mozzarella Bread Salad
- Mozzarella and Asparagus Pizza
- Eggplant Mozzarella Sandwich with Pesto
Firm mozzarella is better for long-cooking recipes, because it melts well without becoming watery.