Grilled Smoked Mozzarella Salad With Summer Vegetables
What to do with all the summer veggies that are overflowing right now? Make this Grilled Smoked Mozzarella Salad. Rich, smoky eggplant and zucchini, sweet fennel, onion, peppers, and tangy tomatoes are all topped with warm, melted, grilled mozzarella cheese.
While this is one of my favorite summertime “salads”, it is great all year round because between the smoked mozzarella and the grilling of the vegetables, it makes even not perfect produce shine. But in the summer, when everything is fresh from the garden, it is divine. Like many of my recipes, it is perfect for a quick weeknight dinner, but also so tasty and presentable that it is a great choice for guests (or parties or pot lucks). The best part is that it is completely customizable with whatever vegetables you have, or wish to have!
VEGETARIAN ✓ LOW CARB ✓ KETO ✓ GLUTEN-FREE ✓
Table of contents
This is recipe takes its inspiration from one of my favorite local restaurants, Trattoria Delia. They used to have a Grilled “Scamorza” salad on their menu which was essentially, well, just like this. It was my favorite and I ordered it every time.
What is Scamorza? Scamorza is an Italian cheese closely related to mozzarella. It hails from Southern Italy – from Apulia and in some parts of Campania and Molise. The texture of Scamorza is elastic and stringy. It has less moisture than mozzarella making it excellent for melting and grilling. It also has a more piquant, robust flavor. If you can find it, I’d try it. The smoked version is called Scamorza Affumicate.
If you can’t find Scamorza, the next best thing is Smoked Mozzarella. Smoked Mozzarella is a fresh, handmade mozzarella cheese that is then placed in a smoker and smoked slowly with wood chips, like cherry wood. This imparts a delicate smokey richness to the cheeses fresh, milky flavor.
This salad has layers and layers of grilled fresh summer vegetables. As it hails from Italy, vegetables like eggplant, zucchini, fennel, onions, peppers, mushrooms, and tomatoes are the best. But the great part of this recipe is that it is versatile. I used all of the above in this version. There are so many interesting flavors adding counterpoints to the meal, each bite is different.
The star of the show is of course the smoked mozzarella. When the cheese is the focus, I choose the best quality that I can find. For this recipe I used a favorite from Maplebrook Farm here in Vermont. A Scamorza Affumicate would be great if you can find it too.
And to finish it off, you will need a good quality extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and fresh basil.
This salad is so satisfying. Grilling intensifies, sweetens, and brings out the flavor of the vegetables while adding a smokiness. Top that with warm, gooey, smoked mozzarella cheese and it’s heaven.
The best part, it’s also really nutritious! This salad is brimming with Vitamin K, Vitamin C, the B Vitamins, and Calcium. It makes an excellent easy and delicious meal or side which is relatively low in carbs and high in healthy fats and flavor – great for anyone – especially those on a Keto or low carb diet.
How To Grill Mozzarella Cheese
Remove the cheese from the fridge right before grilling so that it stays firm. Slice the cheese into 1/2 inch rounds and coat with oil. Place the slices on the grill or grill pan (see my recommendations below) and grill on one side until it starts to steam and melt slightly around the edges. Flip over and continue grilling for a few minutes. Be careful to not let it get too runny or spread too thin. Remove quickly and serve immediately.
I have grilled the smoked mozzarella a number of different ways, each with its own pros and cons.
Directly On The Grill: This method has the best flavor. The drawbacks are that the juices from the cheese drip down into the grill, making a mess, and if you don’t keep your eye on it and flip it and remove it very quickly, you can lose some or all of the cheese.
In Foil On The Grill: You keep your cheese but don’t get the grill marks. If you use this method put some oil on the foil first to prevent the cheese from sticking.
In A Grill Pan: The best method that I have found is to use a cast iron grill pan. It grilled and seared the cheese perfectly.
How To Make This Grilled Smoked Mozzarella Salad
This is a very quick and easy to prepare. Perfect for those warm summer night’s when you’ve spent your day in your vegetable garden and don’t want to spend your night in your kitchen.
Prep Your Veggies
First, add the olive oil and minced garlic to a large bowl. Stir and let sit while you prep your veggies so that the garlic will infuse the oil. Get your grill or grill pan ready. Keep the mozzarella in the fridge, it needs to stay cold and firm until it is grilled.
Next, wash and prep your veggies. The tomatoes, red pepper, and mushrooms will be grilled whole. Slice the fennel, onion, and eggplant into rings. Coat all in the oil mixture. I usually toss all that can be safely tossed in the bowl and then brush the oil onto the rings of onions and fennel so that they stay intact.
Grill & Plate The Vegetables
Start with grilling the red peppers first. Place them on the grill whole and grill until the skins are charred and they have swollen. When they are done put them in a sealable plastic bag for a few minutes to loosen the skin. After a few minutes, peel the skin from the outside of the pepper and remove the stem and seeds.
Grill the remainder of the vegetables in batches. I like to grill them well to increase their flavor, infuse them with smokiness, and make sure that the zucchini and eggplant are soft and custardy inside.
Grill The Smoked Mozzarella
Next, grill the cheese. See above for details on the best method. Before grilling this, plate the vegetables so that when the mozzarella is done you are ready to eat. Layer the vegetables with a mix of each.
Put It All Together
When the cheese is finished, place it on top of the vegetables. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, splashes of balsamic vinegar, and fresh basil. Sea salt and fresh black pepper are a must for me too. See below for how to style this salad.
How To Style This Salad
The first thing to consider when styling a salad, is the role the ingredients have in the final dish. Are there stand-alone ingredients that deserve to be given their own space, like with my Peach, Tomato & Burrata Salad – or do the ingredients need to be mixed together in order to blend the flavors and create a more uniform experience, like with my Avocado, Egg & Arugula Salad With Lemon Balsamic Vinaigrette.
This Grilled Smoked Mozzarella Salad is best served in a composed style, meaning plated and arranged with purpose.
Tips & Tricks
Here are a few things that might help:
- Grill the mozzarella in a grill pan, or use foil on a traditional grill.
- Use good quality extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
- Always use fresh garlic.
- Top with sea salt and a grind of black pepper.
Here are some suggested substitutions to make this salad a better fit for your palate, preferences, and diet. If you are looking for specific substitutions, let me know in the comments below!
- Cheese Alternatives: Scamorza, Fresh Mozzarella, Smoked Gouda, Halloumi Cheese
- Other Add-Ins: Artichokes, Squash, Corn, Garlic Scapes.
More Cheese Salad Recipes To Try
Watermelon Cucumber Mint Salad Wedges With Feta
If you make this salad be sure to leave a comment below. I’d love to hear from you. And if you do make this recipe, don’t forget to tag me on Instagram, I’d love to see!
How To Make: Grilled Smoked Mozzarella Salad With Summer Vegetables
|1 Smoked Mozzarella Or Scamorza Affumicate|
|1 Medium Yellow Onion|
|1 Medium-Large Fennel Bulb|
|1 Medium Eggplant|
|1 Medium Zucchini|
|1 Large Red Pepper|
|8-12 Fresh Mushrooms (Like Crimini)|
|Assorted Tomatoes: 2 Medium Tomatoes, Mixed Cherry Tomatoes|
|1/2 Cup Fresh Basil|
|2 Cloves Garlic|
|1/2 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil You may need more depending on the vegetables you choose.|
|Balsamic Vinegar, to drizzle.|
|Freshly Ground Black Pepper|