Originally, all the delicious Mediterranean cheeses that we love were made with goat’s, sheep’s or buffalo’s milk. Now, because of high market demand, cow’s milk often creeps into the production so keep an eye on the label and choose the former – from a cooking point of view, for authenticity of flavour and for nutritional purposes (fewer people are intolerant to goat’s and sheep’s milk).
Mozzarella with courgette and mint
Place 1 whole small yellow, green or stripy courgette (about 75g) in a pan of boiling salted water and cook for 1 minute. Drain and thinly slice while still warm. Place the warm courgette in a bowl, mix in 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil and 6-8 mint leaves and season to taste. Partially split open 1 x 150g buffalo mozzarella ball on a serving plate. Spoon over the courgette mixture and leave to stand for 10 minutes. Roughly tear 1-2 courgette flowers (optional) into pieces and scatter them over. Serve as part of a spread or as a sharing plate.
Buratta with pomegranate and pistachio
Place 75g pomegranate seeds in a bowl with 75g roughly chopped pistachio nuts, 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil and 2 tbsp pomegranate molasses and stir. Season to taste. Tear 1 x 150g buffalo burrata into large pieces, arrange on a serving plate and spoon over the pomegranate mixture. Leave to stand for 10 minutes, then serve as part of a spread or as a sharing plate.
Dates stuffed with feta and sesame seeds
These make an excellent aperitif finger food or an alternative dinner party dessert. Slice 115g feta thinly. Open out 12 pitted medjool dates. Insert a slice of feta in the middle of each one, then arrange on a serving plate. In a small bowl, whisk 2 tbsp tahini paste with 50ml water until smooth, then sprinkle with a pinch of sea salt. Drizzle the tahini over the dates, then drizzle over 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil. Scatter over 1-2 tbsp toasted sesame seeds and serve.
Ricotta with flat pasta, asparagus and pea shoots
Have ready 150g fresh ricotta, drained. Finely slice 2 small shallots. Trim 350g asparagus and cut into 3cm pieces. Place the shallots in a bowl with the juice of 1 lemon and leave to stand for 5 minutes. Cook and drain pasta to serve 4 (for example, thin sheet pasta cut into triangles, squares or rounds, such as the homemade ‘rag’ pasta in the book, or use wide flat noodles). Heat 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil in a large frying pan and sauté the asparagus for 3 minutes. Add the shallot mixture to the pan and continue to cook until the asparagus is tender, adding a little reserved pasta cooking water if necessary. Stir in the cooked pasta, toss in 150g pea shoots and season. Divide among serving bowls and top each one with a heaped spoonful of ricotta, dividing it equally. Serve with an extra drizzle of olive oil.
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