Herb Panko Mozzarella Cheese Sticks

Herb Panko Mozzarella Cheese Sticks

Mozzarella sticks ate a go to appetizer. Their a finger-food that everyone at the table scrambles to snatch up while the cheese is still hot and extra pull-able or gooey.

Their also a big hit as a happy hour snack.

They’re served on party platters, for lunch and at brunch.

Party platter with mozzarella  cheese sticks

Mozzarella sticks are no cheesy joke, just gooey and delicious.

Deep-fried cheese has been said to originate in Paris, France in the 15th century.

However, recipes for breaded cheese sticks can be traced back to 1393. The original recipe called for the use of Muenster cheese instead of Mozzarella.

According to Vision Launch (who writes about the history of cheese) traditional Mozzarella was made using milk from the Water Buffalo.

What Is Panko

With a unique name, panko is simply a type of breadcrumb.

Panko is a Japanese culinary invention. The word panko in Japanese is “pan” meaning bread and “ko” meaning flour.

Herb Panko breadcrumbs

Authentic panko is baked using a pan connected to an electrical current. The finished product has no crust.

The reason the bread is baked this way is not well documented.

But Upper Crust Enterprises, a company that makes authentic panko in LosAngeles (USA), claims this method started during WWII, when Japanese soldiers fighting the Russians needed to bake bread.

With no oven for baking, they reportedly used electric current to cook bread, creating a product still made today.

If you’re looking for a crisp, crunchy texture when you bake or fry something breaded or with bread crumbs, panko is the way to go.

Herb Panko Mozzarella Cheese Sticks

Mozzarella cheese sticks are a irresistible combination of gooey melted cheese and crisp, golden breading.

  • 1 pound fresh mozzarella, patted dry and cut into sticks or individually wrapped cheese sticks
  • 1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup herb Panko breadcrumbs
  • Avocado oil or other neutral-flavored oil, for frying
  • Marinara, warmed, for serving or optional to serve with Tzatziki Sauce

Cut mozzarella lengthwise into 1/2-inch-thick slices, then cut again into 4-by-1/2-inch sticks.

Place flour in a shallow dish and season with salt and pepper.

Whisk eggs in a separate dish and season with salt and pepper.

Place mozzarella sticks in flour and coat, tapping off excess flour.

Next dip into eggs batter allowing excess to drip off, and coat with breadcrumbs, patting to adhere.

Transfer mozzarella sticks to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Freeze until firm, at least 1 hour. (Mozzarella sticks can be covered and frozen at this point up to 2 months.)

Breaded mozzarella cheese sticks  on parchment paper

Pour enough oil into a heavy pot (preferably cast iron) to come 2 inches up sides. Heat over medium-high until a deep-fry thermometer reads 350 degrees.

Working in batches, add mozzarella sticks; cook, turning occasionally, until golden and crisp, 2 to 3 minutes (adjust heat as necessary to maintain oil temperature.)

Transfer to a wire rack set over a rimmed baking sheet to drain.

Plate and serve with marinara sauce or optional to serve with tzatziki sauce.

Enchilada Casserole with Kale and Sweet Potatoes

Enchilada Casserole with Kale and Sweet Potatoes

Remember when kale was only used as a garnish with an orange slice on your favorite plated food? Or even used to decorate a salad bar? Kale has come a long was in the whole foods movement.

Facts About Kale

During the Middle Ages, kale was one of the most common green vegetables in Europe, as it was easy to farm.

During World War II, the farming of kale in England was encouraged by the Dig for Victory campaign. The leafy green vegetable was easy to grow and provided important nutrients to supplement those missing from a normal diet because of rationing (DailyMail).

The author of Taylor’s Guide to Heirloom Vegetables, Benjamin Watso writes that Kale and collard greens freezes well and tastes sweeter and more flavorful after being exposed to a frost.

Two servings a week of kale or any of its cruciferous vegetable cousins can help prevent cancer. 

The Classification and Colors of Kale

Kale is classified by its leaf type:

  • Curly-leaved (Scots Kale – Blue Curled Kale)
  • Plain-leaved
  • Rape kale
  • Leaf and spear (a cross between curly-leaved and plain-leaved kale)
  • Cavolo nero (also known as black cabbage, Tuscan Cabbage, Tuscan Kale, Lacinato and dinosaur kale)

The different colors of kale can range from green, light green, dark green, and violet-green to violet-brown.

If all of this has your saliva moving, then let’s move on to our featured recipe: Enchilada Casserole with Kale and Sweet Potatoes, and here is what you will need.

1 large sweet potato, grated (making about 2 cups)
1 small onion, sliced
1/2 teaspoon cumin seed
1 bag Fresh Baby Kale Mix
1 – 14.5-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 – 14.5-ounce can tomato sauce, no salt added
1/4 cup chipotle salsa
1/4 cup shredded Cheddar cheese (for a vegan dish use tofu or nutritional yeast)
4 corn tortillas cut into strips

Preheat oven to 425 degrees

Coat a 13 X 9-inch baking dish with butter or coconut oil (for a vegan or vegetarian dish)

Evenly spread the grated sweet potato in the baking dish, then layer the onion. Next sprinkle with the cumin seed, then layer on the kale and black beans (you can opt for adding 3/4th pound of cooked ground beef or chicken at this point).

Pour the tomato sauce over the dish, along with the chipotle salsa. Sprinkle with cheese, then spread the tortilla strips on top.

Cover and bake for 25 minutes. Let cool about 5 minutes. Plate and serve.

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