Mozzarella with Anchovies, Lemon & Basil

Time had been ticking so fast that I actually forgot to prepare for New Year's Eve! This morning, we all sat down and decided on our menu together. I posed my initial question to my family.  Seafood or meat?  I am more partial to seafood, my son to meat, my husband to vegetables and my daughter to bread and rice.  Our choices actually comprise a complete dinner.  All things considered, we came up with a menu adapted for my family but will probably get a thumbs down from any restaurant. I am mixing both meat and seafood throughout the courses.  That way, everyone's happy.

Italian dinners are comprised of 5 courses. We start with the appetizer of different selections. I like my appetizer plate with a variety of different flavors so I make an average of three kinds or more. This is because it's my favorite course.  The primo (first) is the pasta.  One kind of pasta dish is normal but there are times when we reach even 2 - 3 plates of different kinds.  When I cannot decide on one, I tend to make two kinds of pasta so we eat both. The secondo (second) is the main course served with a vegetable side dish. Like with the other courses, there can be more than one kind too.  We then cleanse our mouths from the savory flavors with a plate of simple salad dressed with a basic vinaigrette of extra virgin olive oil, vinegar (can be omitted) & salt or a fruit. The fifth course and my other favorite is the dolce (dessert).  

As tradition dictates, after midnight & after the fireworks die down, we eat the lentils with cotechino or zampone which is believed to give good fortune for the coming year.  It is sometimes, but not always, followed by some macedonia (fresh fruit salad) to wash off the savory taste of the cotechino and zampone.  Here is the link to the lentils with cotechino that I made for last year's New Year's Eve.

I think a lot of us need ideas on what appetizers to prepare.  This is one of my favorite combinations that I am including in our menu for New Year.  Mozzarella with lemon zest, anchovies and basil.  It has a fresh, summery feel.  It is reminiscent of the oven-baked version that I always prepare.  Since it is imperative to eat the baked one immediately after taking it out of the oven, I don't serve it when I am pressed for time in running towards the table straight from the oven.   It becomes rubbery when it loses the heat so this fresh version is my relaxed alternative. 

I am hoping to post another one (my last one) before 2012 ends but if I can't make it back before 2013 starts, I would like to give all of you a toast and my big thank you for being around and sticking with me throughout the year (and the one before that!)! 

Wishing you all the best this coming 2013!  Buon Anno!

Mozarella with Anchovies, Lemon & Basil

Serves 2
  • 200 g. mozzarella, diced
  • 3 big lemons
  • fresh basil leaves
  • 4 anchovies, chopped finely
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • salt (optional)
  1. Cut the two lemons in half vertically.  With the use of a small paring knife, separate the sides of the lemon from the pulp.  Use a spoon to scoop out the pulp.  Save the pulp for other recipes.
  2. Fill up the halved lemons with diced mozzarella.  Sprinkle with chopped anchovies, lemon zest from the remaining lemon & basil.  Add a thin slice of lemon to garnish.
  3. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil.  
  4. The anchovies are already salty.  If you think the mozzarella needs salt, sprinkle a bit.