Another lemony recipe from Positano. They do actually make dishes that don’t involve lemons down there, but for some reason – once I’m back home in the land of no lemon trees – the image and taste of lemons is all I seem to think about.
This 2 ingredient dish is beyond simple. Simple, that is, if you have access to a lemon tree. And, fresh buffalo milk mozzarella.
The first time I heard about this dish was from my friend Gillian, whose spiritual home is downtown Positano. She was shocked not only that I’d never tasted what she was calling mozzarella and lemon leaves, but that I’d never even heard about it. But the thing is, if you haven’t spent time on the Amalfi coast, it’s not something you’d come across in your daily life.
I tasted it for the very first time when Gillian took me here. And it was love at first bite. The dish came to the table looking like a platter of leaves. Which is what it was. Shiny bright lemon leaves grilled to a crisp. Peaking out from beneath was the oozing, warm star attraction: just melted mozzarella.
Gillian dug in, showing me how it’s done: using a knife you scrape bits of the cheese off the leaves and then take a bite along with a bit of crusty bread. The cheese is not only melted, but totally infused with the green, bright, fresh taste of the lemon trees. Which is about as close to heaven as you can imagine.
During my most recent trip to Positano I had the chance to see how they are made, which was always a bit of a mystery to me. I spent a morning in the kitchen of the Hotel Il San Pietro’s beach restaurant, Il Carlino. Located at the foot of the cliff, above which the hotel is perched, the restaurant hangs out over the water in one of the most dreamy locations imaginable.
And now for the bad news: this jewel of a restaurant is open only to guests of the hotel (And I apologize for the mouth-watering photos of my lunch there. Kind of) . On the one hand it’s one more reason to stay there, right? And on the other? At least I came away with this recipe for you.
And by recipe, I mean video. Because it’s that simple. Once you get your hands on some lemon leaves and fresh buffalo milk mozzarella that is.
- 250 grams fresh mozzarella (if possible buffalo milk)
- 8 untreated lemon leaves
- Place the mozzarella in the refrigerator overnight, so that it is cold and firm.
- Cut the mozzarella into pieces about an inch high and a little bit shorter , more or less, than the length of your leaves.
- Make lemon leaf sandwiches with the mozzarella and leaves.
- Heat a frying pan until smoking hot.
- Gently place the lemon packets on the pan, letting the leaves blister.
- After about a minute or two, gently flip over and let the other side blister.
- Carefully take out of pan, place on oven proof sheet and finish under the broiler for about 3 minutes so that the cheese is truly melted.