Cheese Curd Caprese

Cheese Curd Caprese is a spin on the beloved classic salad we all know.  Basil pistou mayo, sliced baby heirloom tomatoes, fried cheese curds, with more herbs piled on top.  The cheese curds are fried in a delicate beer batter: fried cheese makes everything better.

Yields one platter.  **Hold off on frying the cheese curds until completely prepped and ready to serve.

Basil Pistou Mayo:

  • 1 C fresh basil chopped
  • 1 garlic clove chopped
  • 2 T shredded parmesan cheese
  • 1 lemon (juice)
  • 1 C olive oil
  • 2 T mayo

Add basil, garlic, parm, and lemon juice to a blender.  Turn on blender and slowly stream in olive oil until combined.  Season basil pistou with salt and pepper to taste.  In a small bowl add 3 T of the pistou (set the rest aside for another use) to the mayo; combine, and set basil pistou mayo aside.

Beer Battered Cheese Curds:

  • 1/2 lb cheese curds
  • 1 C all purpose flour
  • 1/2 C cornstarch
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 1 12oz can of pilsner (or other mild, light beer)
  • 2 C canola oil

Add flour, cornstarch and baking powder to a large mixing bowl.  Season with salt and pepper.  Mix these dry ingredients.  Add can of beer to the batter, fold batter together until there are no lumps- careful not disrupt too much of the carbonation from the beer.  The batter should be the consistency of pancake batter.  Add oil to a dutch oven, or frying pan with high sides.  Bring oil up to 300°F.  Working in small batches: take a few cheese curds and drop in batter, make sure they are fully coated then transfer to the hot oil.  Slowly stir the oil as soon as the cheese is dropped, so they don't stick to the bottom.  Once the cheese curds are golden brown, transfer to a cooling rack or paper towel lined plate- season with salt and pepper.  Repeat with all of the curds- checking periodically that the oil remains at 300°F. 

Plating Cheese Curd Caprese:

  • basil pistou mayo
  • beer battered cheese curds
  • 1 C halved baby heirloom tomatoes (approx.)
  • small basil leaves

Spoon basil pistou mayo in a large circle on your plate.  Scatter tomatoes directly on mayo, cut-side facing up (this can be done while oil is heating for frying cheese curds).  Scatter fried cheese curds on the negative spaces on the platter.  Top with small basil leaves, a drizzle of olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste.

Pairing:

beer: Saison.  A saison with a little funk and tartness is what you want here.  Something dry to cut through the fried cheese, with some sourness to compliment the tomato's acidity.  Some beers to look for: Boulevard Brett Saison, Jolly Pumpkin Bam Biere, Oxbow Crossfade, Prairie Artisan Ales Prairie Ale, Upslope Dry-Hopped Brett Saison.

cocktail: Killer Tomato Paloma