At the height of summer, it’s hard to think about eating anything other than fresh tomatoes and light cheeses, like mozzarella. Luckily, great mozzarella is easy to come by in Philadelphia – Di Bruno Bros. makes it fresh daily, and you can buy it in any number of sizes, from baseball-shaped rounds to braided strands to tiny beads that are great for tossing into salads.
If you’re looking for a creative angle on fresh cheese, here are five combinations that require little work without turning on the oven. Put these dishes together for a quick main course or appetizer. They’re great for patio entertaining, beach get-togethers, or lone feasts while watching March of the Penguins.
Bread Salad (Panzanella)
Toast up some stale baguette cubes, then load them into a big bowl of chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, and purple onion. Add a healthy drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar, then give everything a toss. Let this sit for half an hour so that the juices meld. Before serving, add chopped mozzarella and lots of fresh basil. Serve with red wine and hulky olives.
Mozzarella and Peach Caprese with Balsamic
Alternate slices of ripe peach and sliced half-moons of mozzarella on a large plate. Tuck leaves of fresh basil between every couple slices, then douse the whole bonanza with really good balsamic vinegar (I like Balsamico Suite), extra virgin olive oil, and a few cranks of white pepper. Serve with baguette rounds, speck, and a bottle of fruity white or rosé.
Bocconcini with Zucchini Noodles and Pesto
This dish requires a spiralizer to spin whole zucchini into narrow ribbons that look like angel hair pasta. Beg, borrow, or steal one, then toss the zucchini “noodles” with pesto, halved cherry tomatoes, and bocconcini (knuckle-sized mozzarella balls). Serve with a lemony wheat beer, and tell your guests they’re in for a special version of spaghetti and meatballs, summer style.
Black Bean Salsa with Mozzarella Pearls
In a big bowl, combine a can of drained black beans, a drained can of corn, chopped fresh tomatoes, chopped sweet red pepper, purple onion, garlic, and as many jalapenos you can endure. Add the juice of one or two limes and some sea salt, plus a container of drained mozzarella pearls. Serve with tortilla chips and sangria. For a meal, mound the salsa into avocado halves.
For more cheese recipes, please visit Madame Fromage.