A Spring Evening: Fresh Mozzarella + Roasted Red Peppers


by Katie of The Parsley Thief

As my husband finished off the last remaining pieces of a recent patio expansion and I completed the yearly clean-up in the gardens, we sat back and admired our work. This is my favorite time of year – when most nights still require a sweater, or a fire blazing in the chimenea, and the mosquitoes have yet to dampen the mood, but the yard is bright green, with flowers beginning to bloom.

Evenings like this are the perfect time to relax, enjoy some good food with a glass of good wine, and celebrate a recent accomplishment. Inspired by everyday moments in Cheese Cupid’s pairing videos, this antipasto-inspired cheese platter is a requisite for those moments. The components can be made ahead of time and will be ready to serve and enjoy when you are.

A mainstay at family gatherings for as long as I can remember, the combination of Wisconsin Fresh Mozzarella and roasted peppers is as familiar and comforting as it is delicious.

This method of roasting peppers is one I learned from my mother-in-law and I was quite happy to use it in place of my old method, which involved charring the peppers, one by one, over a stove burner, then steaming them to completion in a brown paper bag. With this technique you can skip all that, as they’ll be perfectly charred, with skins that peel off easily, in under an hour, while you’re off doing something else. Best of all, they keep really well too – leftovers are perfect in frittatas, on pizza, tossed with pasta, or as a burger topping.

Marinated Wisconsin Fresh Mozzarella & Roasted Sweet Bell Peppers
by Katie of The Parsley Thief

Serves 4-6

4 sweet bell peppers (orange, yellow or red, or a combination)
1 pound Wisconsin Fresh Mozzarella
3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for roasting peppers
1 small clove garlic, sliced in half
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste
kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste
a loaf of seeded Italian bread
a bottle of good quality pinot grigio, chilled

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Wash and dry the peppers and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Brush the entire surface of each pepper lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for about 40 minutes, or until the peppers are soft and charred in spots. Use tongs to rotate the peppers several times while roasting. Remove the peppers from the oven, and transfer to a bowl to rest until cool enough to handle.

Once cool, remove the stems –  they should pull right off. Peel the skins off, slice each pepper down the middle, and scrape out the seeds. Slice the peppers lengthwise into thin strips and transfer to a bowl. Add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, the sliced garlic, and half the herbs to the bowl. Season with salt and pepper; toss to combine. Let the peppers marinate for at least one hour. Note: I like to remove the sliced garlic after the hour, or before serving, as it tends to dominate the flavor of the marinated peppers if left in too long.

While the peppers are marinating, arrange the fresh mozzarella on a serving platter. Drizzle with the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil. Season with the remaining herbs, crushed red pepper flakes, and a light sprinkle of salt. Let the cheese rest for at least 15 minutes before serving.

To serve, arrange the roasted peppers in the center of the Fresh Mozzarella. Slice the bread into 1/2-inch diagonal slices, and stack them alongside the cheese plate. Pour the pinot grigio and enjoy.