Monday, August 22, 2011

Grilled Prosciutto Wrapped Bocconcini

Prosciutto and bocconcini cheese are classic Italian antipasto, but the combination of the salt-cured air-dried Italian prosciutto and succulent little bocconcini wrapped in tiny parcels and grilled quickly in a little olive oil, is a culinary marriage made in heaven. The first time I had this dish was at Mia Romagna, a delightful small Italian trattoria at Front and George in Toronto, run by owner-chef Gabrielle Paganelli. The restaurant has since changed it's name to Paganelli's, but fortunately they haven't taken off their menu. 

Bocconcini — 'small mouthfuls' in Italian — are bite-size balls of fresh mozzarella di bufala (buffalo milk cheese) and come in different sizes: Perle Mozzarella balls which are the size of a very large pearl; Ciliegine Mozzarella balls, about the size of cherry tomatoes; Bocconcini Mozzarella balls, which are about the size of a small golf ball and often referred to as 'bite-size'; and the most delicious of all — Mozzarella di Bufala, which are about the size of your fist. I use the 1.5-ounce bite-size bocconcini for my little parcels of Grilled Prosciutto Wrapped Bocconcini, for the mozzarella melts and the prosciutto crisps, in perfect harmony — creating savoury pillows of cheesy goodness. Nestled on a small bed of mixed greens with a drizzle of olive oil and top quality balsamic vinegar, and garnished with some black pepper a sprig of rosemary, you've got a molto gusto primi.

Grilled Prosciutto Wrapped Bocconcini
Serves 4 as a first course

12 bocconcini mozzarella balls 
(1.5 oz each)
ground black pepper 
12 thin prosciutto slices 
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided 
1 sprig fresh rosemary, chopped

Season the bocconcini mozzarella balls with ground black pepper. Roll each mozzarella ball with two prosciutto slices.

In large skillet over medium-high heat, heat 1 tablespoon oil. Cook wrapped bocconcini, seam side down, for about 1 minute or until prosciutto becomes slightly crispy and the cheese begins to melt.

Place bocconcini on serving platter. Drizzle with remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and garnish with chopped rosemary, and serve immediately. These little parcels can also be served over a bed of mixed greens with a drizzle of good quality Balsamic vinegar, for a greener first course. Allow 3 little parcels per person.