Have you ever heard of Scamorza cheese? Despite being greatly loved in its native Italy, it’s not nearly as famous over the pond. Most people have either never heard of it, have heard of it but have little idea of what it looks or tastes like, or, worst of all, are sure that Scamorza is just another version of Mozzarella.
There’s certainly fertile ground for the latter notion since the similarities between Scamorza and Mozzarella are easily noticeable. But there are also rather stark differences between the two, and Scamorza deserves to have its name known and appreciated for its distinct qualities.
Here’s how Scamorza differs from Mozzarella and how to use it best to make the most of what makes its flavor unique.
What is Scamorza Cheese?
Scamorza is a semi-soft Italian cheese made with cow milk that falls into the Pasta Filata category. Pasta Filata cheeses are stretched-curd cheeses, made by first letting the fresh cheese curds mature in hot whey to let the acidity develop and then kneading them once they turn soft and chewy.
Scamorza cheese is often easily recognized due to its pear-like shape. While it’s not mandatory, per se, for it to be shaped this way, it’s common to tie a string at the top of Scamorza cheese before hanging it to dry.
Scamorza comes in two varieties: Scamorza Bianca and Scamorza Affumicata. Scamorza Bianca is a fresh white cheese, similar to Mozzarella in texture: soft and elastic, but with less moisture. It only takes two weeks to ripen.
Once the cheese has been aged for two weeks, it can either be sold right away or transferred to a smoking facility to make Scamorza Affumicata. Smoked Scamorza cheese has a darker rind but a pale interior. It’s drier and stringier in texture.
What Does Scamorza Cheese Taste Like?
The production method makes a significant difference in what Scamorza cheese tastes like.
Regular Scamorza or Scamorza Bianca has a milky and creamy flavor like Mozzarella, but it’s more robust and has a noticeably sour, piquant quality.
Smoked Scamorza or Scamorza Affumicata has a sharper but also sweeter flavor, with a bit of caramel undertone, with noticeable but not overwhelming smokiness.
What is Scamorza Used for?
Most often, Scamorza cheese is eaten by itself as an appetizer, thinly sliced, and paired with some crackers.
When it comes to cooking, there aren’t many traditional recipes that originally use Scamorza, but it’s one of the most well-received substitutes for Mozzarella cheese. Scamorza texture has the same advantages as Mozzarella: it’s milky, stringy, and melty.
But make no mistake, while Scamorza cheese can work with any recipe Mozzarella is initially used for, it will give the dish its own distinct flair, as the flavors of the two cheeses are noticeably different, despite both being made the same way.
10 Best Recipes to Try with Scamorza:
Despite the similarities between Scamorza and Mozzarella being greatly exaggerated, the traits they do share, like their excellent melting qualities and versatile flavor, allow for Scamorza cheese to act as a replacement for Mozzarella in many recipes.
Swapping Mozzarella for Scamorza is a handy way of adding more distinct piquant flavors to dishes you might’ve gotten tired of or simply switching it up for the sake of new experiences.
While Scamorza shares the creamy and milky flavor notes with Mozzarella, it’s more dominating and complex with a sweetness that’s cut through with noticeable tartness.
While it may not be as ubiquitously loved as Mozzarella, substituting for it in specific recipes can be a great way to start familiarizing yourself with Scamorza cheese and switch up your usual cooking itinerary.
Grilling is quite possibly the most well-known way of utilizing Scamorza cheese in a dish. Instead of serving as a flavoring agent, Scamorza is the king of the show here, often accompanied by grilled neutral-tasting vegetables such as zucchini, eggplants, and potatoes.
It takes under 15 minutes to cook, and all you’ll need are a pan (preferably a cast iron skillet) and a stovetop. Grill the Scamorza slices on moderate heat until they form a brown crust and get gooey, and then flip them upside down. It’s a quick and tasty breakfast or lunch with some crackers or toast and a great dinner with a more substantial side dish to accompany it.
Pizza with Scamorza Bianca, Prosciutto and Arugula
Scamorza cheese pairs well with most cured meats, one would argue, even better than Mozzarella due to a more dominant flavor profile that’s hard to overpower. One could say that fresh Scamorza Bianca could not only act as a stellar stand-in for Mozzarella but would work even better in this particular pizza.
Delicate but salty Prosciutto Crudo and fresh peppery arugula can sometimes overpower Mozzarella and have it play second fiddle in the pizza, but Scamorza not only holds its own but adds an extra piquant flavor to the pizza, balancing the prosciutto-arugula duo out.
Pizza with Scamorza Affumicata and Speck
Scamorza Affumicata can also serve as a great pizza topping, but keep in mind it won’t melt as well as Scamorza Bianca. Instead of shredding it, slice the cheese and lay it out on top of the pizza, allowing it to retain its shape.
Scamorza Affumicata is best paired with other robust ingredients that won’t get overpowered. My personal favorite is Speck, a type of cured and smoked Italian ham made from pork belly. It’s similar to prosciutto but has a deeper, more savory, and smoky flavor that highlights the smoky notes in Scamorza Affumicata instead of covering it up, which sometimes happens with other intensely flavored ingredients.
Pumpkin and Sage Risotto with Scamorza (Affumicata)
Risotto alla Zucca is one of the classic Italian risotto types, usually made with a sweeter squash or pumpkin variety (Zucca is an Italian word for them both). Butternut squash, kabocha squash, or pie pumpkin apparently work the best, but any pumpkin you consider a favorite will do.
Risotto may be a labor-intensive dish, but it’s relatively straightforward. You’ll need to cut the pumpkin into small squares, soften it up in a large pan, and mash it into a coarse puree. Add a few sprigs of chopped fresh sage and hold it for a bit, letting the aroma absorb. Then add Arborio or Carnaroli rice to the pan, cook for a few minutes, and start adding the stock. From there on, it’s the classic risotto routine until all of the stock is absorbed.
At that point, Risotto alla Zucca would be flavored with some nutmeg and shredded Parmigiano Reggiano. This version swaps the Parmigiano Reggiano for a generous amount of shredded Scamorza Affumicata. It will be less nutty, instead sweeter and smokier. If you’re having a hard time imagining risotto without Parmigiano Reggiano, add shavings on top of the risotto while serving. Scamorza and Parmesan work well together.
Scamorza Affumicata and Prosciutto Panini
For those, who aren’t particularly fond of spending time in the kitchen but love eating good food, flavorful paninis can be a lifesaver. It can be assembled in five minutes and served for any meal of the day. But there’s also an ever-present catch: covering up lower-quality ingredients is always easier with complex dishes. For a good sandwich or a panini, you’ll need quality ingredients. Scamorza Affumicata and Prosciutto Crudo work wonderfully together, with the delicate sweetness and savoriness of the prosciutto blending with smoky and caramelly notes from the cheese. Fresh focaccia or ciabatta made with a generous amount of olive oil is an ideal bread selection if you ask me. You don’t even need to toast the panini if you’re in a hurry; it’ll make a great sandwich as is.
Gnocchi alla Sorrentina
It sounds very fancy, but pasta dishes with Sorrentina sauce are some of the easiest and quickest to make. It’s just cherry tomatoes, fresh basil, and a generous amount of melty cheese, usually Mozzarella. Gnocchi might not technically be a pasta variety, but with its delicate texture but well-pronounced flavor, it is a common choice for Sorrentina sauce. And they take literally 2 minutes to boil, so they’re a perfect choice for a quick lunch.
Heat a generous amount of olive oil in a pan, heat it through, and add as much finely chopped garlic as you like. Add the cherry tomatoes, lower the heat to medium, and cook them down until they burst. Add shredded Scamorza Bianca and a handful of coarsely chopped basil, wait for the cheese to melt, and pour it over your gnocchi. Once you’ve got the recipe down, you should be done in 20 minutes.
Pasta e Patate: Pasta and Potatoes with Scamorza Cheese and Pancetta
When I first found out about this dish, I thought people were pulling my leg. But apparently, it’s a traditional Neapolitan dish, combining, you guessed it, pasta and potatoes into one dish because apparently one of them isn’t carb-heavy enough.
Okay, in reality, it’s the potato starch we’re after. It’s supposed to make the sauce creamier and the dish heartier. First, you cut the pancetta into small pieces and fry it in a large deep pan with olive oil. Then cut the potatoes into small cubes and add them to the pan. Once they’ve softened, add rosemary, 1 TBSP of tomato paste, and 500ml, cover with lead and let it simmer on low heat until the potatoes are cooked through. Mash the potatoes until creamy, and add the uncooked pasta to the pan along with 250ml of hot water to thin the sauce out. Cook for another 10 minutes, until the pasta is al dente. Finally, once the dish is done, add shredded Scamorza cheese and stir to thoroughly combine. Decorate with even more fried pancetta, because why not?
Frittata Rolls with Pesto, Prosciutto Cotto, and Scamorza Cheese
Rotoli di Frittata is a popular Italian appetizer. There’s no traditional stuffing; in fact, switching it up is expected and welcomed. First, make the frittata by whisking six eggs with salt and pepper. Pour the mixture into a small parchment-lined pan and bake for around 15 minutes until your frittata layer is fully set. Let it cool slightly and gently spread the pesto sauce over the frittata, and layer Prosciutto Cotto and thinly sliced Scamorza Bianca on top. Roll the frittata up (it should come off the parchment without resistance) tightly. Don’t take the frittata off the parchment fully; instead, use it to wrap the roll back up once you get to the end. Chill in the fridge for at least two hours to let the roll set, and then cut up in thick slices.
Tortelloni with Scamorza and Speck
Tortelloni are a type of filled Italian pasta, a larger version of tortellini. The most labor-intensive part of the process is getting the egg-based pasta dough right. It may be a simple combination of flour, eggs, and salt (no water), but it can be a pain to knead without a stand mixer. But if you’ve got the dough right, then the rest of the process is easy. Once the dough is adequately chilled and rolled out, cut it into 3-inch squares, fill each square with a tsp of the filling, give it the proper Tortelloni shape and boil for three minutes in heavily salted water.
The filling is made by combining Scamorza Bianca, and Speck in a food processor at a 1:1 ratio until you have a thick savory paste.
“Leftover Bruschetta” with Scamorza and Roast Chicken
Do you have any leftover roast chicken left in the refrigerator? Great! Now all you’ll need are a piece of focaccia and a few slices of Scamorza Bianca. Cut the focaccia horizontally, and smear with sour cream, pesto, or cream cheese. Layer with thinly sliced Scamorza Bianca and leftover chicken on top. Bake in the oven until the cheese is melted and the chicken is thoroughly heated through.
Visit Yummy Bazaar’s Cheese Store:
Yummy Bazaar hosts an extensive and carefully curated cheese collection at our online cheese store. Check it out for more authentic options imported straight from their country of origin, Scamorza included.