Fresh mozzarella cheese stars in Caprese salads, where it is served with tomatoes, fresh basil and olive oil. Its texture is light and moist, and it holds up well to marinades. You can cook fresh mozzarella as well, although cooking dries it out somewhat, compromising some of its most appealing qualities. When substituting fresh mozzarella for the aged variety, add a little salt to enhance the flavor of the fresh cheese.
Fresh Mozzarella on Pizza
Fresh mozzarella makes a classic pizza topping, melting quickly at high heat without losing its creamy texture. Its flavor is more delicate than that of aged mozzarella, so use a light hand when choosing additional flavors to complement it. Lightly apply a flavorful marinara, and sprinkle on sliced fresh basil. Avoid intense salty ingredients such as olives, capers and anchovies on a fresh mozzarella pizza, because they overpower the delicate flavor of the cheese.
Fresh Mozzarella With Pasta
When cooking fresh mozzarella with pasta, add it at the last minute so that it heats through without growing hot enough to melt. Timing this addition correctly allows you to enjoy the light texture of the fresh cheese without it growing stringy and stretchy. If possible, use medium-size fresh mozzarella balls, or ciliegine, which are about the size of a cherry and retain their shape when quickly heated.
Fresh Versus Aged
You can substitute fresh mozzarella for aged if you want the cheese to bake and melt. However, it is a waste of the fresh quality when it will likely get lost among other flavors, such as in lasagna filling. Show off fresh mozzarella when you use it. Slice it rather than grating it, and arrange it on top of casseroles before baking to make it prominent and visible.
Fresh mozzarella cheese has a higher moisture content than the aged variety, which dries out over time. When cooking with fresh mozzarella cheese, account for this extra moisture when planning dishes. Drain fresh mozzarella well before adding it. Avoid using fresh mozzarella with ingredients such as spinach, which tend to release moisture. With savory pastries such as calzones, serve extra sauce on the side rather than adding it to the filling and risking a soggy dough.
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