Like most countries, Croatia’s cuisine differs from region to region. Along the Dalmatian Coast, you’ll find a Mediterranean diet and climate, the best watermelons in the summertime, sweet figs in the fall.. In the northwest region of Istria, there is a strong Italian influence and more olive groves than I’ve ever seen before, while inland where Zagreb is, there’s a continental climate and cuisine. Throughout the interior regions, you’ll find heavier dishes, many specialties include dried meats and salami like kulun sausage, and a plethora of meat and potatoes. So I’m always trying to come up with new salads and lighter options at home.
This week has been abnormal weather for this time of year, of the very best kind. Totally sunny, dry and in the low 70’s! That along with the fresh produce from our market and this beautiful basket of fresh lemons inspired this very fresh, delicious salad full of complimentary flavors.
Crispy Mozzarella Salad with Lemon Garlic Vinaigrette
fresh spinach or fresh greens
1 apple, thinly sliced
1/2 pear, thinly sliced
handful of grapes, halved
handful of walnuts, optional
3-4 fresh mozzarella balls, room temperature
2 TBS plain breadcrumbs or panko
2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
2 TBS flour
1 TBS dried oregano
1 TBS dried basil
2 tsp fine sea salt + more for taste
1/4 C extra virgin olive oil + more for cooking
For the dressing:
1 lemon’s worth of juice
1/4 C evoo with 2 cloves of minced garlic from mozzarella marinade
1 TBS honey
Marinate the mozzarella balls in a bowl with 1/4 C of extra virgin olive oil and the 2 cloves of minced garlic. Set aside while preparing the salad, though the longer you can marinate it the better! Set the marinated mozzarella in another bowl of beaten egg. Pour the evoo and garlic into a small jar with the lemon juice and honey and shake thoroughly to combine. Toss with the first six ingredients. After covering the mozzarella in egg, dip it in the combination of breadcrumbs or panko, flour, dried herbs and sea salt.
Once the saute pan is hot, on medium high heat, drizzle enough olive oil in to cover the bottom. Fry each side of the mozzarella balls for about two minutes each, adding more olive oil as needed, or until each side is browned and the cheese begins to ooze. Place ontop of the salad and serve immediately. It’s best while they are still hot! Enjoy with a glass of crisp white wine.