Mozzarella cheese became widespread throughout Italy in the eighteenth century, before which it had only been produced in small quantities. I’m glad it is available worldwide and especially where I live on California’s central coast. There is nothing better than a fresh tomato-based salad with fresh mozzarella cheese.
Fresh mozzarella is a soft, mild white cheese that originated in Southern Italy’s Campania region. I use Galbani Mozzarella Fresca (Ciliegine) and let it marinate* while making the balance of the salad. With the addition of a couple of ripe California avocados, you’ve got a flavor combination that can’t be beat. With ripe red tomatoes, you’ve got a colorful salad that not only looks impressive but tastes wonderful as well.
2 ripe avocados (peeled, pitted and cubed)
3 medium tomatoes (cut into wedges same size as avocado cubes)
8 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese balls (cherry size)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
Salt and fresh-ground black pepper to taste
2 teaspoons fresh basil for garnish (chopped)
Gently add avocados, tomatoes and mozzarella to a salad bowl. Set aside.
Mix together olive oil, vinegar and salt and pepper. Pour over avocado mixture and toss lightly. Garnish with basil and serve at room temperature for best flavor.
*Marinade for fresh mozzarella:
½ teaspoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons grapeseed oil
grated zest of 1 lemon
1 clove garlic (minced)
½ teaspoon sea salt
Fresh ground black pepper
Scatter the fennel seeds in a small frying pan. Heat on medium-heat until they begin to pop. Transfer seeds to a mortar and pestle, add the oregano and crush roughly. Place this mixture in a small bowl and add the balance of ingredients. Use this to marinate the mozzarella balls while making the balance of the salad.