Saturday, 16 July 2011

Insalata di Mozzarella, Fichi e Bresaola
Salad of Mozzarella, Fig and Bresaola

 Amazingly enough, Summer made a return visit to Frankfurt today! And accordingly, I made a visit to our market hall to see what seasonal produce was on offer, and lo and behold- more fresh figs! Yummy and aromatic, you could already smell them when you stepped through the doors. So I decided to make myself a nice summer salad, but to do something a little different to the typical Caprese of tomato and mozzarella. A Caprese is nice for sure... but trust me- my salad was nicer!

I know the photos seem pretty self-explanatory and yes this is a very simple affair. But there are a couple of little tricks I used that make this into a special treat. Oh, but while we are at it- a little confession. That is just a "regular" mozzarella cheese you are looking at and not an original buffalo milk version. I forgot to get one at the market hall and had to resort to my supermarket when I got home- and they were sold out. So there ya go- welcome to the real world. So my first trick, which sounds kind of strange maybe, is to not slice your mozzarella, but to tear it. It will even make a cows milk mozzarella taste better if you ask me. It is just something about the texture when it has "rough" edges, that makes it seem more complex and less bland- especially if you season it as I did. The uneven surface takes on flavors much better than if the cheese is smooth, it allows it to absorb oil and honey and the aromas of herbs and spices and makes it more pleasing to the palate.

The other simple trick I used was to spread a nice mustard on the plate where you set out your ham, so that it remains hidden, but so that you drag the ham through it when you slice and eat it later. The ham I used was a Bresaola, a lean cured beef, which is very tender and juicy and combines wonderfully with the figs... much nicer than melon and Parma ham!

So, the mozzarella is torn, ready to be flavored and then everything gets sprinkled with sea salt and cracked peppers, drizzled with olive oil, lemon juice and honey and then given a light scattering of dried oregano or thyme. The mint and basil leaves are not simply decorative, but also delicious in the extreme in combination with the cheese, figs and ham... mmm! 

Let's hope the Summer is here to stay for a while!

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