Let’s see: sweet red, yellow, orange, and green bell peppers, crushed red flakes, and slightly crushed green peppercorns – yep – 6 peppers.
Plus a bit o’ garlic and oil and a few other goodies, just for fun; these nicely flavored chunks of mozzarella are a perfect addition to salads or antipasto platter, and, as it happens, pretty little jars make for a mighty fine gift at this festive time of year.
You need 2 weeks to let it sit before splitting it up, and ideally another 2 weeks before folk should be sampling the cheesy wares; so you’d better get a move on if you plan on having this ready for Christmas!
I’ve made a version of this recipe ever since finding it in one of those 1980’s vintage holiday cookery magazines I have stashed here and there around the house, but I think this may be my best batch yet.
•16 oz. mozzarella
•1 cup olive oil
•1 cup canola oil
•1 medium red or green pepper, cut into strips – as noted above, I used small red, yellow and orange peppers, plus 1/2 green pepper
•1/4 cup white wine vinegar
•1 tbsp crushed red pepper
•1 tbsp crushed green peppercorns
•1 tsp 21 Seasoning Salute
or your salt-free season blend of choice
•3 cloves garlic, halved
The original recipe never specified – but I am using fresh mozzarella and not aged, ’cause I think it better suited to soaking up all the flavor.
Slice the mozzarella and randomly prick with a fork, then cut into 1/2 inch cubes and stash in a covered 1 quart container.
Slice the fresh peppers into thin strips and add with the garlic halves and seasonings to the oil in a small saucepan.
I should note here that the original recipe called for using all olive oil, but I’ve found that blending half and half with canola oil will keep my marinade from turning into a semi-solid chunk o’ stuff, much nicer, I think, to spread all that flavor goodness around.
Stir the oil and seasonings together over moderate heat just until it begins to bubble and turns fragrant.
Remove from the heat and set aside to cool, then pour over the cubed cheese in the container.
Give it all a nice stir to really cover the cheese, add a sprig of fresh thyme if you have it, then cover and stash in the fridge for 2 weeks – giving a bit of a shake if you think about it.
After 2 weeks, transfer the cheese to four 1-cup covered jars, pour the marinade over, then cover, and – ideally – pop back in the fridge for another 2 weeks before giving – tho’ I will be cutting mine a bit close this year.
When you do give this gift of cheese, add a note explaining that it should be brought out and up to room temperature for about an hour before serving – in salads or as a munchie to spear with a toothpick. I would note that the oil and stuff make for a fairly pleasant bread dipper, too.