• Stuffed onions with pancetta and mozzarella (Rachel Tolosa Paz)Source: Rachel Tolosa Paz
When you're seeking comfort on cold nights, mozzarella recipes are here to slay the winter beast.
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15 Jul 2021 - 11:53 AM  UPDATED 15 Jul 2021 - 11:57 AM

Desperate times call for desperate measures, but grabbing a packet of pre-grated 'mozzarella cheese' from the supermarket cold shelf doesn't always cut it.

Pre-grated cheese has a low-moisture content (otherwise it would all just clump right back together). It might result in good browning in the oven, but it also tastes rubbery and bouncy and generally nothing like the mozzarella you want to be eating.

Think fresh

Fresh mozzarella comes in two kinds. First, the 'real' kind according to mozzarella aficionados (of which you are now one). This is fresh mozzarella made from buffalo's milk, aged for only a few hours. It's the traditional Italian way to make mozzarella and the flavour is delicate and creamy, but with a distinctive tang.

“Once, a buffalo farmer and cheese maker in Italy said to me: ‘You need to understand that the mozzarella has to be so fresh, you should feel the buffalo breath in the cheese as you eat it,” Elena Swegen told SBS Food. You can read more of her story here:

How well do you know 'real' buffalo mozzarella?
Most of the mozzarella sold in supermarkets is made from cow's milk, not pure buffalo. So what is 'real' buffalo mozzarella and why does it taste so good?

Then there's the cow's milk variety - the kind you are most likely to find wrapped at the deli or supermarket. In Italy, cow's milk mozzarella is often referred to as fior di latte, not mozzarella. It's lower in moisture content than buffalo mozzarella, so the cow version is good for pizzas and other dishes that require a good melt.

The key to buying cow's milk mozzarella is to look for a version that is white, not yellow. It will preferably be packaged in a container filled with whey, not wrapped in plastic. If you buy anything less, you'll face a cheese set like a rubber doormat the instant it cools.

Now, go wrap your best fresh mozzarella around some of these beauties.

Mozzarella with roasted garlic

When you get your hands on the finest buffalo mozzarella, this is the dish you want to make. It puts the cheese right in the centre of its olive and garlic heart.

Cheesy fire chicken

This is the ultimate way to fire up your mozzarella. Buldak is hot, hot, hot! The mozzarella does double duty, putting out fires while it works its creamy magic.

Stuffed onions with pancetta

Slow-cooked onions, sweetly caramelised and topped with one of nature's blessed food combos: pancetta and mozzarella. These little taste bombs will rev up any meal.

Potato pizza

Trust only the simplest pizza toppings to showcase mozzarella's deliciousness. This potato, zucchini flower and buffalo mozzarella version gets it exactly right.

Pizza's that serve mozzarella well
Frying pan Neapolitan pizza

Baking your pizza in a super-hot cast iron pan will give a beautiful, golden base and crust, though it's hard to mimic a true Neapolitan pizza, which has been named a national treasure of Italy.

Tomato and mozzarella pizzette (pizzette con pomodoro e mozzarella)
You can vary the toppings on your pizzette and serve them as an antipasto at dinner parties. There are five varieties in this chapter, but please experiment with your favourite pizza ingredients. Just remember the rule of keeping it simple and seasonal – and no more than three toppings on a single pizzetta.
’Nduja pizza

If you own a barbecue, you also own a pretty decent pizza oven. By using a pizza stone, or even a heavy baking tray, you can cook beautifully light, crisp pizzas in minutes. The basic dough and sauce can be used for any pizza, so play around with toppings. The biggest mistake people make is to add too many ingredients, which means the crust is cooked well before the toppings have got going. Use your toppings sparingly, spread in an even layer ,and you can’t go wrong. This recipe uses one of my favourite ingredients, ’nduja. It's a fiery Italian salami from Calabria with a soft, spreadable consistency, perfect to dab over a pizza.

Corn pancakes with pork

When a recipe calls for melted cheese, it's got to be mozzarella for the win. This Venezuelan dish provides just the right amount of cheesiness to balance the sweet and savoury pancake.

Portobello pizzas

The recipe for these low-carb portobello mushrooms (suitable for vegetarians) feature in the new cookbook, the Fast 800 Easy.

Turn mushroom pizza on its head by making the mushrooms the main event. No dough, just veggie magic and plenty of mozzarella.

Silverbeet pie

The sharp tang of silverbeet needs a gentle partner and the creamy mildness of mozzarella is a good match. It balances silverbeet's overwhelming tendencies to bring balance to this cheesy Argentinian pie.

Shakshuka

What could possibly make this Middle Eastern brunch favourite even better? Why, mozzarella, of course. After all, tomatoes are always happiest when they're playing with cheese.

Fried mozzarella balls

Fried mozzarella balls (mozzarella fritta)

Bocconcini are small mozzarella balls that you can find in most supermarket cabinets. They make a great snack straight from the container, but don't forget to cook with them as well. This recipe will convert you quick-smart.

Baked cheese atayef

Ricotta is not the only cheese that works well in sweet dishes, as this atayef shows. Mozzarella has a gentle creaminess, but also offers its signature stretch to add fun to desserts and sweets.

Three suitably cheesy sweet dishes
Sweet cheese rolls

These soft, creamy pillows are perfect with a cup of coffee or for a light dessert, and make a unique bring-a-plate idea for your next gathering.

Cheese pastry (künefe)

You can find this pastry, made from kadayif (angel hair pastry) and cheese, from the Middle East to Greece. The Turks use a desalted cheese; mozzarella does the job very well.

Bread pudding (capirotada)

Often served on Good Friday, this golden pudding consists of chunks of bread soaked in a sweet sherry mixture, and topped with queso Oaxaca, a stringy Mexican cheese that is similar to mozzarella.

Mozzarella sandwich

Carrozza, a fried mozzarella sandwich, is traditionally made from day-old sliced bread filled with mozzarella.

There's a cheese toastie, and then there's a fried mozzarella sandwich. Make this recipe and you will never confuse the two. You'll probably never make a cheese toastie again either.

Cheesy potato croquettes

When you take a bite and the cheese follows your hand back to the plate. That's amore!

Filo triangles

This Middle Eastern recipe reveals just how versatile fresh mozzarella is. It pairs so well with ingredients used all over the globe. In this dish, it's working back well with cumquats, orange-blossom water and filo pastry.

Gnocchi Sorrentina

Despite its willingness to work with any cuisine, any time, the last word has to go to a classic Italian dish. After all, the king of all buffalo mozzarellas, Mozzarella di Bufala Campana originated in Campania and Italians do any kind of cheese so well. Be generous with the mozzarella in this dish (and in life).

Stretching the cheese
Baked bread rolls stuffed with chorizo, mozzarella and capsicum (pan choripán)

There is a little work required to create pan choripán from scratch, but it is a process that pays dividends.

Seared mozzarella in smoked ham with figs

Melty mozzarella wrapped in smoked ham, with fresh figs. You'll be whacking hands away to pick one of these up off the plate. This recipe is for a canape, so double it for an entreé size.

Salami, olive and mozzarella croquettes

Double dipping these potato croquettes in crispy crumbs gives them sensational crunch. They're filled with salami, olives and mozzarella, and served with a delicious Dijon mayonnaise.

Say yes to arepas and Colombian hot chocolate served with mozzarella
You’ll start wondering why all hot chocolate doesn’t come with cheese. Also not to be missed is the signature at La Tienda, bandeja paisa: red beans, rice, chorizo and chicharrón.
Ricotta and mozzarella are curd-ish cousins
The world of fresh curd cheese is simply delicious.
Heritage tomato and mozzarella salad with olive crumb

This salad is one of the simplest and its success relies on using the ripest tomatoes. I have chosen four of the tastiest varieties – they are perfect for salad, each of them sun-ripened, juicy and fleshy. Gastronomy can be simple... when you have wonderful produce!

Buffalo mozzarella, bread and zucchini ‘lasagne’

Like so many recipes that were born out of thrift, this is a great way to use up stale sourdough. Buffalo mozzarella is a bit more of an indulgence, but it makes it taste so much better.

Homemade mozzarella and fig salad

A beautiful salad drizzled with balsamic and served with homemade mozzarella.

Double fried plantain, mozzarella and jam sandwich (aborrajados)

A Colombian treat that sits on the fence as both a savoury and sweet snack, aborrajados are a serious snack for those with a bent for the best of deep-fried food. The combination of plantain, cheese and jam is one of South America’s best.

Chicken breast stuffed with mozzarella and pesto

Chicken breast stuffed with mozzarella and pesto