Olive-crumbed basil mozzarella with smoked tomato sauce

Olive-crumbed basil mozzarella with smoked tomato sauce

Chris Middleton

We have a great relationship with Kirsty from La Latteria, a ‘mozzarella laboratory’ just around the corner from Huxtable. She makes these wonderful little hand-tied ‘knots’ of mozzarella studded with basil. And with the olive crumbs and smoked tomato sauce they kind of taste like pizza!


Quantity Ingredient
2 eggs
250ml milk
12 basil mozzarella ‘knots’, alternatively, use small plain mozzarella or bocconcini, make a slit in each one and insert a basil leaf in each slit
plain flour, for dusting
snipped basil cress, to garnish

Olive crumbs

Quantity Ingredient
155g pitted kalamata olives
160g fresh breadcrumbs

Smoked tomato sauce

Quantity Ingredient
3 teaspoons olive oil
1 french shallot, sliced
4 garlic cloves, chopped
400g tin san marzano tomatoes, or other sweet, good-quality tinned tomatoes, broken up with your hands, (see Note)
smoked salt, (see Note), to taste


  1. For the olive crumbs

    Dehydrate the olives for 1½–2 hours in a preheated 120°C oven, or for 6–8 hours in a food dehydrator, until the olives are very dry. Blitz the dried olives in a food processor with the breadcrumbs until you have fine black crumbs. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
  2. For the smoked tomato sauce

    Heat the olive oil in a small saucepan and sweat the shallot and garlic over medium heat until sof t, but without colour. Add the tomatoes and cook for 15 minutes, or until the sauce starts to thicken. Blitz with a hand blender, then pass through a fine sieve to remove the seeds. Season to taste with smoked salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  3. To crumb the mozzarella

    Combine the eggs and milk in a bowl. Place the olive crumbs in another bowl. Dust the mozzarella knots with flour, dredge them through the egg wash, then coat in the olive crumbs. Put the mozzarella knots back into the egg wash, then back into the breadcrumbs, to double-crumb them. Squeeze the crumbs on firmly to make sure there aren’t any holes when cooking.
  4. To serve

    Heat about 5 cm of vegetable oil in a large saucepan to 180°C. Test by dipping a wooden chopstick into the oil: the chopstick will sizzle when the oil is ready.
  5. Working in three batches, deep-fry the mozzarella knots 2–3 minutes, until the crumbs are crisp. Be careful, as the cheese inside will become runny and molten, and if you leave the balls in there too long they’ll explode! Remove from the oil using a slotted spoon and drain immediately on paper towel.
  6. Serve on a platter, garnished with basil cress, with a bowl of smoked tomato sauce on the side.


  • San marzano is a sweet, low-acid Italian roma (plum) tomato variety.


  • Smoked salt adds a smoky flavour to dishes, without all the effort. You’ll find it in spice shops.
Back to top
    No results found
    No more results
      No results found
      No more results
        No results found
        No more results
          No results found
          No more results
            No results found
            No more results
              No results found
              No more results
              Please start typing to begin your search
              We're sorry but we had trouble running your search. Please try again