What’s Summer About
If Not Heirloom Tomatoes and Fresh Mozz
Mozzarella is always delicious, but it’s especially tasty in the summer. That’s because the dairy cows, or water buffalo if you’re lucky, are grazing on sweet grasses and herbs that grow in the warmer months, imparting fresh flavors and unique aromas into the milk and resulting cheese. Those herbaceous notes compliment the shit out of late-summer heirloom tomatoes, which I find especially sweet. And I’ll have you know that there are some mighty surprising health benefits to mozzarella cheese too.
Just one ounce of mozzarella contains 18% of your daily calcium requirement, in addition to plenty of protein, phosphorus, potassium, chloride, and iron. I picked up a ball of Zingerman’s mozzarella, mostly because I couldn’t find their burrat (that’s a post for another day when I do get my hands on some.) Zingerman’s is an adorable community of businesses located in Ann Arbor, Michigan. They have a bakehouse, a delicatessen, a creamery, and a lot more. They are committed to creating one excellent product after the next, so keep your eyes peeled for their zany packaging. I especially recommend Manchester, a little soft-ripened sweetheart of a cheese that’ll straight put you on cloud 9. But, enough of that. I’m talking about mozzarella. And I’m melting it all up on some local produce.
Milk: pasteurized cow
Provenance: Ann Arbor, MI
Cost: about $20.00 a pound
Palate level: beginner
Profile: fresh, milky, soft
Pairings: tomatoes, balsamic, high acid wines
Eggplant and Heirloom Tomato Stacks
- 2 medium eggplants, longer rather than round
- Kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 2 heirloom tomatoes
- 1 ball fresh mozzarella
- Balsamic vinegar
- Sea salt
- Freshly ground pepper
- Aged cheese to top, I used Pantaleo
- Basil leaves
- Baking sheet
- Cutting board
- Tin foil
- Preheat oven to 425° F. Line a baking sheet with tin foil.
- Trim the tops off the eggplants. Slice into 1″ rounds. Arrange on a cutting board and salt generously. Let stand for 5 minutes. Rinse off the salt, and repeat on the other side of the eggplant slices. Pat dry.
- Arrange eggplant slices on the baking sheet. Drizzle with the olive oil. Be sure the bottoms of the eggplant slices are coated with oil. Roast eggplant for 30 minutes, flipping halfway through.
- While eggplant is cooking, slice the tomatoes into 1/4″ slices. Slice the mozzarella ball in to similar size slices.
- Reduce oven heat to 350°F. Stack the slices, beginning with the largest tomato slice, then the eggplant, mozzarella, and tomato again.
- Return stacks to oven and cook for five minutes, until the mozzarella begins to melt. Drizzle with balsamic and sprinkle with basil leaves.