Recipe: Italian cheeses

By Grant Allen

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Smoked mozzarella, balsamic and basil grilled toasted sandwich. Photo / Jason Dorday
Smoked mozzarella, balsamic and basil grilled toasted sandwich. Photo / Jason Dorday

Puglia is the region of Italy known for its cow's milk mozzarella (Campania is the home of buffalo mozzarella). Mozzarella is a generic term for cheeses that are made using spinning and cutting, from the Italian verb "mozzare" meaning to cut. It should be as fresh as possible.

Massimo of Italian Cheeses hails from Puglia and makes mozzarella, fresh ricotta, scamorza and other specialist cheeses according to his regional traditions, right here in Auckland. He sells these at various farmers markets and now through the Art of Produce.

Buffalo mozzarella is considered primo but I think the cows milk mozzarella (known as Fior di latte in Italy) is a great product. At around $7 for a 125g tub, it is also more affordable. Use it for pizza cheese, caprese salad or eat it with some crisp fruits like pear or apple.

Scamorza is a mozzarella-type cheese that is dried and sometimes smoked (traditionally hung above the fireplace).

Aldo says it's a great for melting so, taking his advice, I put some slices on sour dough.

I added a few fresh basil leaves and dribbled this with a reduction of olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Placed in a hot oven until the cheese was well melted and bubbly, the result was a gourmet version of cheese on toast.

Scamorza also works well as an ingredient on skewers. Imagine chunks wrapped in prosciutto, threaded with peppers and fresh basil leaves and grilled.

- Herald on Sunday

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