Orange & Mozzarella Starter
Earlier this month I had two dentist appointments. At the first one, while waiting for my turn, I was too freaked out to read the gossip magazines – which I just realised I only ever read at the doctor’s or the hairdresser’s – because I was in for a root canal treatment (which was finally done today, yay!).
For my second appointment I was a tad more relaxed, and that was when I read an interview with a German actor who now has a restaurant. Being asked what kind of food he served he said only things he liked himself, and he mentioned a few dishes his family made at home as well as friends’ recipes his restaurant uses. Then he said “…there’s this woman who does this incredible thing with oranges, mozzarella, olive oil, and toasted pine nuts”.
And there it was, already in my head before I had finished reading the sentence – a vision of this dish. Although I knew I wouldn’t be able to eat after my appointment, I went straight to the supermarket for the ingredients.
My vision was pretty clear except for how I would serve the oranges – finely sliced, which meant removing all the white inner skin – or filleted – which would mean real work. Of course I chose the former… I finely sliced the orange over a mandoline, used a knife for the mozzarella, and that’s about all the work you have to do. The pine nuts will toast in the pan while the slicing’s going on, so this is a 10 minute prep.
I was lucky to get oranges that were sweet, a good quality mozzarella, and what’s really important here is to use really good quality olive oil. You don’t need much, but it’ll have to complement the two main ingredients. I used the Madagascar pepper that I mentioned in a post before but, of course, you can use any kind of freshly ground pepper. You can also use buffalo mozzarella instead of plain. The quality of the oil is more important for me, even if only a drizzle is required.
Result? Even better than I had imagined. The mix of mozzarella and oranges is delicious, and when the juices of the oranges mix with the oil… perfection for me.
This is a perfect seasonal starter, I think totally suitable for a Christmas dinner as well. I’m already looking forward to use up the rest of my oranges this way. I’ll also try this with blood oranges once they hit the shops here, I think that might be sensational.
Orange & Mozzarella Starter
1 ball mozzarella [125 g]
handful of pine nuts
good quality olive oil
freshly ground black pepper
Drain the mozzarella in a sieve.
Peel orange and remove as much of the white inner skin as possible. The orange should be smooth rather than having bumps of white skin left in places.
Start toasting the pine nuts but keep an eye on them so they don’t burn.
Meanwhile thinly slice the orange over a mandoline. Thinly slice the mozzarella [I used a knife instead of the mandoline]. Arrange both in layers on two small plates. [The oranges will be dripping with juice – don’t dry them off as the juice is a bonus.]
Drizzle a little oil over the orange & mozzarella, season with a turn of freshly ground black pepper, and sprinkle with the toasted pine nuts. Serve at room temperature.