An easy no cook appetizer recipe, Quick Marinated Mozzarella Balls dress up a simple cheese board with Italian flavors and color.
There is nothing like a good charcuterie board. Scratch that. There is nothing like a good cheese board. Making a meal out of cheese, bread and crackers is my idea of heaven due in no small part to my study abroad semester in Luxembourg (we won't say what year that was) where eating pain et fromage was life. And if a bowl chock full of these marinated mozzarella balls was anywhere on or near a cheeseboard, they'd be popped into my mouth faster than you could say "pass the vino"!
Why this recipe works
This marinated mozzarella balls recipe is a little different because of the ingredients used and how they're prepared.
The big differences are:
- it's not swimming in olive oil but has a special blend of two oils resulting in so much flavor
- it gets a ton of rich, subtle flavor from the garlic being roasted.
Different types of fresh mozzarella and more
Marinated mozzarella balls are a simple toss of some unique ingredients that include:
- Ciliegine mozzarella. (pronounced "cheel-ay-jean-yay"). These are bite-sized fresh mozzarella that is smaller than buffalo mozzarella balls but larger than mozzarella pearls.
- Roasted garlic. I am including how to roast garlic in the recipe below and you'll have enough to use in the oh-so-flavorful Lemon and Roast Garlic Chicken.
- Sun dried tomatoes. I buy these at Costco and keep them on hand for this easy appetizer as well as for our favorite Sun Dried Tomato Pasta Salad. You never know when the craving or gathering will strike.
Second to my Pepper Jack Cheese Dip, this fresh mozzarella recipe is one of the easiest and can be multiplied many times for a larger crew.
Here's how you make it:
- Drain the mozzarella balls in a colander and blot dry using a paper towel. You want them to be as dry as possible because water and oil aren't friends and will impede the marinating process.
- Mix the olive oil with the drained sun dried tomato oil (half and half is the perfect ratio).
- Chop up the basil, sun dried tomatoes and roasted garlic.
- Toss the small mozzarella balls with the oils, some balsamic, the sun dried tomatoes and garlic. Season with salt, pepper and crushed red pepper.
- Marinate in covered container for a minimum of 1 hour up to 24 hours.
You can make these marinated mozzarella balls up to 3 days ahead. Add more olive oil as needed to keep them moist. You might also need to add some more basil right before serving.
Store in a sealed container until ready to serve.
Roast lots of extra garlic and refrigerate the cloves covered in olive oil in a sealed jar for approximately 2 weeks.-Josie + Nina
I love sharing ideas to help you successfully make this recipe right from the start. My grandmas, Josie and Nina, used what they had in their pantries to get amazing dishes on the table to feed their families.
Tear or cube a large ball of fresh mozzarella into bite sized pieces. You can also use the even smaller pearl fresh mozzarella if that's available.
Fresh mozzarella is packed in the watery brine that it's made in to preserve its freshness and keep its shape.
The water doesn't have any flavor and will water down the marinade.
I wouldn't or you run the risk of ice forming on it because of its high water content.
Yes, you can definitely add water to fresh mozzarella balls to keep it fresh. Just add enough to cover and change it out as needed every few days.
…before you go...
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Quick Marinated Mozzarella Balls
For roasting garlic
- 1 head garlic, roasted [see instructions below]
- 1 teaspoon olive oil, or a quick drizzle from a bottle
- sprinkle of salt and pepper
For mozzarella balls
- 8 oz. ciliegine or bite sized fresh mozzarella balls , see note below
- 6-8 cloves roasted garlic
- ⅓ cup chopped oil-packed sun dried tomatoes , drained (save the oil)
- ⅓ cup olive oil
- 5 leaves fresh basil, large leaves
- ⅓ cup oil from sun dried tomato jar, total amount needed/includes drained oil
- 3-4 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 ½ teaspoons sea salt, or more if needed
- ½ teaspoon thyme
- ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
Roast the garlic
- Preheat an oven to 350°.
- Slice the top off the whole head of garlic just enough to expose the top of each individual clove.
- Lay the garlic on a square of aluminum foil. Drizzle over the olive oil and season with the salt and pepper. Bring in all the sides of the foil to the crown of the garlic and seal it up like a purse.
- Place the garlic foil packet on an oven safe small baking dish
- Bake for 40 minutes until browned (your house will smell amazing!) Cool until you are able to handle it.
- Squeeze the garlic cloves from the base of the head until the cloves slide cleanly out of the skins. Set aside.
To marinate the mozzarella
- Drain the mozzarella in a colander and blot dry with a paper towel until little to no water remains.
- Roughly chop the sun dried tomatoes and garlic and set aside.
- Stack the basil leaves on top of each other. From the long side, roll them up like a cigar and starting at one end, thinly slice them with a sharp knife until you reach the other end. It's not necessary to include/chop the stems.
- Next, blend the oils in a glass measuring cup. Add the remaining ingredients. Taste for seasoning. (I wouldn't add more crushed red pepper as the heat will intensify as the cheese marinates in it.)
- Add the fresh mozzarella balls, chopped tomatoes and garlic to a glass storage container that has a lid. (You can also use a ziploc bag as well) Pour the marinade over the cheese, tomatoes and garlic and mix completely.
- Refrigerate for a minimum of 1 hour up to 24 hours periodically mixing to make sure the cheese is well coated.
- If you can't find fresh mozzarella balls or pearls, tear or cube a large ball of fresh mozzarella into bite sized pieces.
- dried oregano
- flavored oil like garlic oil or Garlic Goodness from What's Gaby Cooking (SO good!)