The one and only time in my life when I aspired to be a vegan was quickly abandoned with the realization that cheese was on the prohibited foods list. There simply is no substitute for the delectable, complex richness of cheese, and I found that as a vegetarian, it added flavor and nutrition to my meals. Cheese headlines many popular gourmet dishes and it’s versatility and diversity in flavor and texture lends itself well to a wide variety of dishes, including snacks.
One of our favorite restaurant snacks is the traditional fried mozzarella stick. The juxtaposition of a crunchy outside batter with warm, melted cheese is divine, yet for this health-conscious mom, I needed to find an a suitable alternative that didn’t involve a deep frier. With the right combination of spices, panko bread crumbs, and a touch of olive oil, you can enjoy a version of this popular finger food mostly guilt-free.
Traditional mozzarella sticks are battered or breaded, then deep fried and served with marinara sauce. I decided to give my baked version a cultural flavor kick with a blend of my favorite Latin seasonings including Cumin, Cilantro, Chili Powder, and Paprika. Panko bread crumbs, a popular accent to fried Japanese foods, was used in place of conventional bread crumbs for a lighter, flakier outer crust. And no Latin dish is complete without salsa, which compliments the seasonings and the melted cheese nicely.
WHAT YOU NEED
- 6 ounces Cacique® Low-Moisture, Part-Skim Mozzarella Cheese
- 1/2 cup Panko Bread Crumbs
- 1/4 cup flour
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon red chili powder
- 1/2 teaspoon cilantro
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon pepper
- Olive oil cooking spray
HOW TO MAKE IT
- Preheat ove to 375 degrees F. Grease a baking sheet with olive oil cooking spray
- Combine Panko bread crumbs with spices in a shallow bowl.
- Place flour in a separate shallow bowl.
- Beat egg slightly in a third bowl.
- Cut out 12 slices of cheese, approximately equal in length and width. Roll cheese in flour, then beaten egg, then bread crumbs. Place on greased baking sheet and cook for 4-5 minutes or until mozzarella sticks are lightly browned. Serve with salsa of choice.
- Tip: Freeze cheese prior to use in this recipe to prevent the cheese from oozing out during the cooking process.