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Scamorza is strangled mozzarella. It’s nowhere near as popular in the UK as its non-strangled sister, though significantly easier to spell correctly – no confusing double consonants. But it’s quite a difficult word to remember, a cross between ‘camorra’ and ‘Scaramouche’.
Strangled and hung out to dry after shaping, it takes on the appearance of a gigantic belly button or a stump of an amputated limb – it does look quite gross. The hanging and drying lets it develop a lovely skin or rind which is usually the best bit of any cheese. Then it may or may not be lightly smoked, hardening the skin and deepening the flavour. It can be used wherever you’d use mozzarella and complain that it’s watery/not stringy enough/bland.
Bruschetta is a grilled slice of bread, usually rubbed with garlic and drizzled with olive oil. It’s awkward to pronounce: instead of the expected by an Anglo-Saxon ‘broo-shetta’ it has an explosive ‘SK’ in the middle: ‘broo-sketta’ being the correct, rarely heard outside Italy, pronunciation.
Baked scamorza with bruschetta then is nothing other than posh Italian cheese on toast. It’s completely delightful and very much worth the semantic and phonetic challenges.
baked scamorzaServings: 2Time: 20 minutes
- 200g (6oz.) scamorza (aged mozzarella)
- two sprigs of thyme, leaves stripped
- 1 day-old ciabatta or small sourdough loaf
- 1 garlic clove, peeled
- 2-3 tbsp. olive oil
- For the rocket salad:
- 2 tbsp. pine nuts
- 2 tbsp. pumpkin seeds
- 250g (2 cups) rocket leaves
- a drizzle of honey
- 2 tbsp. olive oil
- ½ lemon
Preheat the oven to 220C/425F/gas 7. Toast the pine nuts and pumpkin seeds in a dry frying pan until golden. Prepare two individual ovenproof dishes. Slice the scamorza thickly and divide between the dishes, sprinkle the thyme leaves over the cheese.
Slice the bread and brush each slice with olive oil. Rub the garlic over each slice and place them on a baking tray. Transfer to the top rack in the oven while you place the dishes with scamorza on a lower one. Bake for 10 minutes, or until the bruschettas are toasted and the scamorza bubbling and coloured.
In the meantime sprinkle a pinch of salt over the rocket, drizzle with honey and oil and squeeze half the lemon over it. Toss the leaves in the dressing using your hands. Sprinkle with half the toasted seeds.
Remove the bruschetta and the scamorza from the oven, sprinkle some toasted seeds over the cheese and serve immediately.