How To Pair Mozzarella For A Pizza-Inspired Cheese Board

The simplicity of a cheese board makes it great for entertaining. You won't need to spend hours in the kitchen sautéing and simmering, and while you certainly can add more involved additions if you'd like — such as a baked round of brie or a homemade jam — you can also create a stunning cheese board entirely from store-bought items. However, one tricky part of crafting a stellar cheese board is deciding what ingredients to add. After all, you want a mix of different flavors and textures, from milder cheese options to more pungent ones, soft cheeses to hard cheeses, and other additions that pair well with whatever you ultimately choose. 

An easy way to narrow down the seemingly endless options is to keep a theme in mind, such as a pizza-inspired cheese board. Mozzarella would be a natural choice for the primary cheese on such a themed board, and the incredibly mild flavor of this cheese means it can be paired with so many different items. Start your culinary brainstorming by envisioning the types of toppings you might find on a pizza, then think of ways those classic flavors can be amplified to balance the neutral creaminess of mozzarella cheese. For example, rather than adding tomato sauce or sliced tomatoes, consider including flavor-packed sundried tomatoes or replace regular sliced bell peppers with roasted red peppers marinated in herbs and olive oil.

Other ingredients for a pizza-inspired cheese board

When you're positioning mozzarella as the star of your cheese board, make sure you're not overlooking the various presentations of this cheese. While you could incorporate slices of fresh mozzarella, you could also sprinkle in some mini bocconcini (small balls of mozzarella). For an entirely different texture that pairs beautifully with crunchy additions to your cheese board, you might even consider a ball of burrata, which features mozzarella as the casing and has a creamy, fresh cow's milk mixture interior.

You also want to incorporate different flavors and textures with your ingredient offerings as well as your cheese options. Once you have a few heavy hitters with very concentrated flavors, such as the formerly mentioned sundried tomatoes or even something like ultra-salty anchovies, pepper in a few unexpected items that could find their way onto more unconventional pizzas. While you may not want to add berries to a pizza-inspired cheese board, fruits like figs and pears could certainly make the cut.

And, take some inspiration from the non-topping components of a pizza as well. For example, opt for crisp crostinis or focaccia bread to deliver that pizza vibe rather than seed-encrusted or rye crackers. And, don't forget the base and garnishes — a jar of basil pesto and a few sprigs of fresh herbs are both decorative and packed with herbaceous flavor, while bruschetta pays tribute to traditional red pizza sauce in a cheese board-friendly way.