Shari Darling
February 20, 2014 | Shari Darling

Zesty White Wine Paired with Fresh Mozzarella, Tomato and Basil Salad

My brother Jay is an avid home cook, a chef really. While home from Vancouver, he created this lovely salad for our family. I love fresh mozzarella. It’s so easy to make. Below is a recipe for making homemade mozzarella from scratch. When fresh, mozzarella is not rubbery, but creamy, adding wonderful texture to salads and entrees. In this particular salad, the primary taste sensation is sourness from the balsamic vinegar. Choose a crisp, dry white wine like Sauvignon Blanc with enough acidity to match. If you cannot find balsamic pearls, then substitute white balsamic vinegar in the recipe to work with the wine.

Tomatoes are best to be consumed in the summer when they’re local, fresh and ripe! But tomato salads are so tasty, it’s nice to enjoy them in the winter, too.  Be sure to purchase your tomatoes about 1 week in advance. Put them into a paper bag in a cool area away from sunshine and heat. Let the tomatoes ripen slowly over 5 or 6 days. 

Fresh Mozzarella
There are several recipes for making fresh mozzarella. Here is a basic recipe to start off your journey in making this cheese. Over time you’ll develop your own measurements to taste.  For this recipe you can use goat, buffalo or cow’s milk.

Large pot, big bowl,
2 gallons of non homogenized whole milk
1/4 of vegetable rennet tablet (dissolved in water), available at health food stores
1.5 tablespoons of citric acid, available in a pharmacy
1 tablespoon of salt

In a small bowl add 1/4 cup of water. Add 1/4 rennet tablet and let dissolve. Pour milk into a large pot. Turn stove to medium-low heat. Gently heat up milk to 95 degrees F. Add citric acid and salt. Slowly stir it into the milk. Stir and check the temperature.  When the temperature reaches a stead 95 degrees F, add the rennet and stir for about 30 seconds. Turn off the stove. Cover the pot with a lid and move the pot off of the heat. Set the timer for 25 minutes and let the milk sit.  Cut the curds in a patched style. Using a slotted spoon remove the curds from the way, draining all the whey.  Place the curds in a cheese cloth over a bowl and drain the reminder of the whey. Let the curds sit in the cheese cloth for 15 minutes. Pour the whey into a bowl and set aside. Add some cold water to the whey. Let cool.

Heat up water bath. Be sure to wear rubber gloves so as not to burn your hands. Place come curds into the hot bath of water.  Let sit for 2 minutes. Pull the curds out of the bath and pull together into a ball, then start to stretch the curds. Pull all the smaller pieces out of the water and add back into the large ball of curds. Fold the curd ball in half, turn it 90 degrees and fold it in half again. Keep kneading the cheese until its shiny and smooth and stops being grainy. Put the finished ball in the bath of cool water and whey. Work another piece of curd.  The longer you work the curds, the more firm the cheese becomes.  Be sure to make balls of cheese about the size of the fresh tomatoes to be used in your salad. Store the cheese in the whey bath in the refrigerator and use as needed.

Fresh Mozzarella and Tomato Salad with Basil and Balsamic Pearls

Serves 4
Olive oil (as needed)
1 French Baghuette, sliced
Kosher salt (as needed)
4 tomatoes (variety of choice)
Fresh basil
Balsamic Pearls or white balsamic vinegar (as needed for garnish)

In a iron skillet heat oil. Pan fry slices of baguette on both sides until golden, about 5 seconds per side. Drain on paper towel.  Sprinkle toasts with kosher salt.  Let toasts cool. Slice the tomato into slices (of desired thickness). Slice the fresh mozzarella into the same sized slices. Lay fresh basil leaf on toast. Add slice of fresh mozzarella. Add slice of tomato. Add balsamic pears or drizzle with balsamic dressing. Serve.

Suggested Wine: Choose a white wine with crisp acidity to harmonize with the acidity in the white balsamic vinaigrette.

Choose one of the following from

Harmony On The Palate is used in colleges and universities across Canada for chef and sommelier training.
To Learn, Discover and Enjoy The Art of Pairing Wine with Food Click the Book Cover Below.   

Shari darling


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