Mozzarella fritters with roast pepper sauce

Sink you teeth into Neven Maguire's cloud-soft mozzarella cheese fritters with crunchy crumb crust and vibrant, tangy sauce
By Neven Maguire
Mozzarella fritters with roast pepper sauce
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 4
  • Cook Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
  • Prep Time: 45 minutes plus at least 2 hrs chilling
  • Effort: easy

Ingredients

For the sauce

  • 1 small head garlic, about 5cm diameter
  • 225 g plum tomatoes, halved lengthways
  • 1 large red pepper
  • 1½ tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ tsp balsamic vinegar

For the fritters

  • 120 g breadcrumbs, made from day-old sourdough bread
  • 2 tbsp coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 tbsp coarsely chopped basil
  • 1 tsp finely grated lemon zest
  • 25 g plain flour
  • 1 egg
  • 4 x 100 g balls buffalo mozzarella
  • olive oil, for deep-frying
  • flaky sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper

Method

1. For the sauce: preheat the oven to 190C/gas 5. Cut off and discard the top quarter of the garlic head and wrap the remainder in foil. Arrange the tomatoes, cut side up on a foil-lined baking sheet and sprinkle lightly with salt. Add the red pepper and the foil-wrapped garlic and roast for 1 hour until the tomatoes are just beginning to char nicely, the garlic is completely tender and the red pepper is cooked through with blackened skin.

2. Transfer the pepper to a bowl, cover with cling film and leave to stand for 20 minutes. When cool enough to handle, peel and discard the core and seeds. Put the flesh in a food processor with the tomatoes. Unwrap the garlic and squeeze the roasted cloves from the skin into the food processor. Add the lemon juice, olive oil and balsamic vinegar and blend until smooth. This sauce can be made up to 24 hours in advance and kept covered in the fridge.

3. For the fritters: mix the breadcrumbs, parsley, basil and lemon zest in a shallow dish and season to taste. Season the flour and tip onto a flat plate. Lightly beat the egg in a shallow dish.

4. Tear each cheese into four pieces, then dust in the seasoned flour, shaking off any excess. Dip in the beaten egg and then coat in the flavoured breadcrumbs. Arrange on a baking sheet lined with non-stick baking parchment and chill for at least 2 hours to firm up (overnight is fine).

5. When ready to cook, pour 5cm olive oil into a large pan. Alternatively, heat a deep-fat fryer to 180C or until a small piece of white bread dropped into the oil browns and rises to the surface in about 1 minute. Working in batches, deep-fry the mozzarella fritters for 2-3 minutes until crisp and golden brown. Drain well on kitchen paper.

6. Warm the sauce in a small pan over a gentle heat and spoon a pool on to each warmed plate. Arrange four pieces of the mozzarella fitters on top to serve. The remainder of the sauce can be served in a small bowl at the table so that guests can help themselves.

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