There is something intriguing about stacked food. The visual aspect is appealing since most stacks are colorful, but sometimes it is the combination of textures that make it interesting. We have several recipes for stacks that include eggplant, beets, tomatoes, fruit and cheese. Today we are featuring a nectarine and fried cheese stack that is not only pleasing to the eye, it is also very delicious.
We purchased a processed mozzarella cheese since it is dense and will hold up well when heated. Fresh mozzarella is great for a Caprese salad, (sliced beefsteak tomatoes, basil and cheese) but I would not recommend it for this dish, unless you don’t mind it looking a bit messy.
2 firm, but ripe nectarines or peaches, 1 4oz. package mozzarella, 1/4 cup Panko or plain bread crumbs, 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, 1 egg, beaten, 2 tablespoons olive oil.
Process: Using a cookie cutter, cut cheese into rounds, apx. 2 inches in diameter and about 1/2 inch thick. Mix Panko, Parmesan cheese and cayenne pepper together. Beat the egg with a fork, then dip each piece of cheese into the egg to coat. Dredge cheese rounds in the crumb mixture to fully coat; set aside.
Slice the unpeeled, nectarines or peaches into rounds, carefully detaching from the seed as you go. Use the larger, center pieces and reserve the remainder for a snack. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat and saute the peaches/nectarines for about 1 minute on each side. Set aside.
Add remaining oil to the skillet and bring to medium/high heat. Add cheese rounds to the skillet and saute on each side until golden. The cheese should be warm and soft to touch, (apx. 1 to 2 min. on each side).
Assemble the cheese and fruit onto salad dishes, starting with the fruit on the bottom. Add fresh basil leaves for color throughout the stack, or slice it into ribbons and sprinkle over the top to finish. We use two cheese rounds and two nectarine rounds per stack.
Dressing: Heat 1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar with 1/2 teaspoon brown sugar over medium heat until reduced almost in half. Drizzle over stack.
Serve this as a first course to almost any entree or for lunch with a crusty baguette and a glass of Chardonnay. Enjoy!