Softly, softly: Skye Gyngell's mouthwatering alternative accompaniments for mozzarella

Summer is the perfect time to eat young cheese. Soft, sweet and pliable, mozzarella is perhaps the best and most beautiful of all the fragile curd cheeses. The word mozza in Italian slang means "to cut", in this case when the heated curd is stretched and cut into balls. It is traditionally made from buffalo milk – which is lighter and sweeter than milk from cows – in Campania, in the south of Italy. Look for artisan cheeses if possible, rather than factory-made. Made with the freshest milk, its texture is light and very slightly chewy – neither rubbery nor bland.

The classic combination of mozzarella with tomatoes, basil and extra-virgin olive oil is almost unbeatable, but do choose an oil that is gentle – the balance is key if all the flavours are to shine.

Skye Gyngell is head chef at Petersham Nurseries, Church Lane, Richmond, Surrey, tel: 020 8605 3627, petershamnurseries.com

Mozzarella with roasted red peppers, grilled aubergines, roasted sweet potato and cannellini beans

Serves 6

1 red pepper
1 sweet potato
80ml/3fl oz extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt and black pepper
3 tbsp red-wine vinegar
1 aubergine
1/2 tsp dried chilli flakes
1 small bunch of marjoram, leaves only
1/2 tin cooked cannellini or borlotti beans
6 balls of mozzarella

Heat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas6. Slice the pepper in half, scoop out the seeds and cut into eighths. Peel and slice the sweet potato into one-inch chunks and place in a roasting pan along with the pepper. Pour over half a tablespoon of the olive oil. Season with a little salt and pepper and add a tablespoon of the vinegar. Toss together and place on the middle shelf of the oven; roast for 30 minutes or until tender. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

Cut the aubergine into one-inch slices. Drizzle half of the remaining olive oil over and place under a grill until golden-brown. Turn and do the same on the underside. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

Once the vegetables are at room temperature, place in a bowl and drizzle over the remaining oil and vinegar, chilli, marjoram and cooked beans. Season well and mix together thoroughly. Arrange on plates along with the mozzarella. If you feel it needs it, drizzle over a little more oil just before serving.

Buffalo mozzarella with peaches, figs and San Daniele prosciutto

Of the three recipes here, this is the lightest in feel and taste – and it takes only a few minutes to prepare. Here it is pictured on an individual plate, but it is also lovely served on a large platter and placed on the middle of the table for all to share. It is important that the fruit is at its very best. Prepare this dish as close to serving as possible – preferably as you are sitting down to eat.

Serves 6

3 very ripe peaches
6 ripe figs
6 balls of mozzarella
12 slices San Daniele or Parma ham
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the basil oil

1 generous bunch of basil, leaves only
Pinch of sea salt
80ml/3fl oz olive oil

Start with the oil: chop the basil finely and place in a bowl with a pinch of salt, then pour over the oil and stir to combine. Now slice the peaches in half, remove the stones and tear into generous-sized pieces. Tear the figs and the mozzarella in half. Arrange all the ingredients attractively on a plate. Season generously with salt and pepper, spoon over the basil oil, and serve.

Mozzarella with radicchio, fennel and spinach

Serves 6

200g/7oz young spinach leaves
1 small head of radicchio
1 fennel bulb, tough outer leaves removed, sliced as finely as possible
The juice and zest of one unwaxed lemon
1 tbsp grated Parmesan
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
6 balls of mozzarella
6 anchovy fillets

Rinse the spinach well under cold running water and place in a saucepan that holds it comfortably. Place over a low heat and cook, stirring frequently, until the spinach has just wilted. Remove from the heat and drain in a colander. When cool enough to handle, squeeze out the excess moisture with your hands.

Wash and pat dry the radicchio and tear into generous-sized pieces. Place all the vegetables into a bowl and squeeze over half the lemon juice, add the Parmesan and lemon zest, season with salt and pepper and drizzle over most of the olive oil. Toss together thoroughly.

Arrange the mozzarella on plates and arrange the salad leaves alongside. Gently lay the anchovies over the finished dish. Squeeze over the rest of the lemon juice, drizzle over the remaining oil and serve.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
News
The data shows that the number of “unlawfully” large infant classes has doubled in the last 12 months alone
i100Mike Stuchbery, a teacher in Great Yarmouth, said he received abuse
Arts and Entertainment
The starship in Star Wars: The Force Awakens
filmsThe first glimpse of JJ Abrams' new film has been released online
Sport
Rio Ferdinand returns for QPR
sportRio Ferdinand returns from his three-game suspension today
News
The Speaker of the House will takes his turn as guest editor of the Today programme
arts + ents
News
people

Watch the spoof Thanksgiving segment filmed for Live!
Sport
Billy Twelvetrees will start for England against Australia tomorrow with Owen Farrell dropping to the bench
rugbyEngland need a victory against Australia today
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of The Guest Cat – expect to see it everywhere
books
Sport
Tyson Fury poses outside the Imperial War Museum in south London ahead of his fight against Dereck Chisora
boxingAll British heavyweight clash gets underway on Saturday night
News
i100 Charity collates series of videos that show acts of kindness to animals
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Recruitment Genius: Senior Project Manager - Bristol

    £31000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: In the UK, the major project fo...

    h2 Recruit Ltd: Sales Executive - Meetings & Events (MICE) - £40,000 OTE

    £30000 - £40000 per annum + benefits: h2 Recruit Ltd: Are you a high achieving...

    h2 Recruit Ltd: Account Executive - Hotel Reservation Software - £40,000 OTE

    £30000 - £40000 per annum + benefits: h2 Recruit Ltd: A rapidly growing Hotel ...

    Recruitment Genius: Tyre Technician / Mechanic

    £15000 - £16800 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Tyre Technician / Mechanic is...

    Day In a Page

    Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

    Christmas Appeal

    Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
    Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

    Is it always right to try to prolong life?

    Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
    Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

    What does it take for women to get to the top?

    Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
    Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

    Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

    Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
    French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

    French chefs campaign against bullying

    A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
    Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

    Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

    Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
    Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

    Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

    Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
    Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

    Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

    Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
    Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

    Paul Scholes column

    I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
    Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

    Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

    So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
    Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

    Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

    It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
    Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

    Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

    The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
    Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

    Sarkozy returns

    The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
    Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

    Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

    Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
    Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

    Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

    Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game