Sep 14, 2014

Marvelous Mozzarella

During the Nine Days most families will use lots of mozzarella cheese. It’s versatile, tasty and you will
find it in hundreds of dairy recipes.

Created in southern Italy, mozzarella refers to a mild, white fresh cheese that's made by the special
process, whereby the curd is dipped into hot whey, then stretched and kneaded to the desired
consistency. At one time, mozzarella was made only from the milk of water buffaloes. Today, however,
it's typically made with cow's milk.

Mozzarella comes in two basic styles. Most regular mozzarella, which can be found in low-fat and non-fat forms in supermarkets, is factory produced. It has a semisoft, elastic texture and is drier and not
as delicately flavored as its fresher counterpart. This style of mozzarella is best used for cooking and is
popular for pizza because of its excellent melting qualities. It is available in blocks, slices and logs called “string cheese” and shreds.

Fresh mozzarella is usually packaged in whey or water, is often labeled "Italian style." It's generally made from whole milk and has a much softer texture and a sweet, delicate flavor. Mozzarella di bufala (also called buffalo mozzarella) is the most prized of the fresh mozzarellas. Most buffalo mozzarella available in the United States is made from a combination of water buffalo milk and cow's milk. Two popular forms of mozzarella are boconccini, which are little balls that are commonly marinated in olive oil and sometimes herbs, and the even smaller cherry-sized ciliegini. Fresh mozzarella is excellent simply spread on bread with salt, pepper and a little olive oil. It’s also delicious served as a salad with sliced tomatoes and fresh basil.

Try one of these tasty recipes before or after the fast:

Homemade Mozzarella Sticks

One of the most popular uses for mozzarella, these sticks can be prepared in advance and cooked as

needed. They are perfect as an appetizer or side dish.
1 1/2 cups Italian-style breadcrumbs
1 1/3 cups grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon salt
2 (16-ounce) blocks mozzarella cut into 4 by 1/2-inch sticks
4 large eggs, beaten to blend
1 1/2 cups canola oil
4 cups Marinara Sauce, recipe follows

Stir the bread crumbs, 1 cup of Parmesan and 1 teaspoon of salt in a medium bowl to blend. Dip the cheese sticks in the eggs to coat completely and allow the excess egg to drip back into the bowl. Coat the cheese in the bread crumb mixture, patting to adhere and coat completely. Place the cheese sticks on a baking sheet. Repeat dipping the cheese sticks in the egg and bread crumb mixture to coat a second time. Cover and freeze until frozen, about 2 hours and up to 2 days.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Working in batches, fry the cheese until golden
brown, about 1 minute per side. Transfer the fried cheese to plates. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese
and serve with the Marinara Sauce.

Homemade Marinara

Use this sauce for dipping mozzarella sticks, on your eggplant parmesan or even pizza.
1 large onion, minced
1 green bell pepper, seeded and minced
2 tablespoon vegetable oil
3 cloves garlic, minced or crushed
1 fresh hot pepper, minced (optional)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 large can crushed tomatoes or
2 -15 ounce cans tomato sauce
2 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons fresh basil, checked and chopped
1 teaspoon dried oregano or Italian seasoning

Heat oil over medium flame in a large sauce pot. Add minced onion and pepper and sauté until slightly
softened. Add garlic and optional hot pepper and continue sautéing for one minute. Season with salt.
Add the tomatoes or tomato sauce. Add the sugar and herbs. Bring to a boil and cook 10-15 minutes.
Taste and adjust seasonings to your liking. Use immediately or freeze in airtight containers for 3-4

Penne with Mozzarella and Tomatoes

This light, tasty dish is excellent after the fast!
1 pound penne pasta
1/4 cup olive oil plus 2 tablespoons, divided
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped garlic
5 cups chopped plum tomatoes
1/2 cup shredded basil
Freshly ground black pepper
3/4 pound fresh mozzarella, sliced or cubed
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

Put a large pot of salted water up for the pasta. Cook the pasta in the pot of salted boiling water for 12
to 13 minutes until al dente. Drain the pasta.

While the pasta is cooking, prepare your sauce. In a large skillet, heat 1/4 cup of the olive oil. Add the
garlic and cook until just fragrant, about 1 minute or less. Add the tomatoes and cook them for 3 to 5
minutes, just until they begin to release some of their juice.

Add the pasta and basil to the pan with the tomatoes and toss. Add the cubes of mozzarella. Season to
taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Serve the pasta in bowls, dividing between 4 bowls. Drizzle the remaining olive oil over the bowls of
pasta, sprinkle with parmesan and serve immediately.
Wishing all an easy fast!

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