Fresh Mozzarella: The Good Stuff
Why do I say "the good stuff?" Because I want to differentiate fresh mozzarella from the mass-produced part-skim and fat-free cheeses that tempt healthy cooks. First, let me clarify. I often use part-skim mozzarella in sauces, baked toppings and casseroles because it shreds and melts easily, blends well with other ingredients (because it’s less flavorful than fresh) and using fresh would be a waste of a fabulous (and slightly more expensive) ingredient. I never use fat-free because it’s flavorless and doesn’t melt correctly.
I use fresh mozzarella when I want to experience the smooth, velvety cheese in all its glory, embellished very simply with fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs. Fresh mozzarella is typically sold in a liquid bath (brine, whey or water) which helps the cheese retain hydration and shape. It's mild and slightly sweet with a distinct milk flavor. The creamy texture is much softer than mass-processed mozzarella.
Nutritionally speaking, you might be shocked to learn how similar the varieties are, especially if you’re watching fat and salt intake. Fresh and part-skim mozzarella are basically the same in terms of calories, fat and saturated fat, BUT part-skim has carbohydrates (1 gram per ounce, probably from added potato starch) and ridiculously more sodium (over 200 milligrams more per ounce than fresh mozzarella).
Note: Keep fresh mozzarella in its liquid bath until ready to eat, and eat it within 2 to 3 days.
Take a look at the nutritional breakdown for fresh, part-skim and fat-free mozzarella to see what I mean:
To fully enjoy fresh mozzarella, try my salad below. Creamy, soft cheese partnered with caramelized pineapple, sweet strawberries, grapes and melon, fresh mint and balsamic. Heaven on the plate and palate.
Fresh Mozzarella Salad With Grilled Pineapple, Mixed Fruit and Balsamic
You can easily double or triple this recipe to serve more people.
Coat a stove-top grill pan with cooking spray and preheat to medium-high. Add pineapple slices and cook 2-3 minutes per side, until golden brown. Remove from heat and, when cool enough to handle, cut slices into 1-inch pieces.
In a large bowl, combine grilled pineapple, mozzarella, melon, grapes, strawberries and mint. Add vinegar and oil and toss gently to combine and coat cheese and fruit. Serve room temperature or chilled.