Mozzarella Cheese Sticks with Fresh Marinara

Mozzarella Cheese Sticks with Fresh Marinara

YIELDS: 4 Servings PREP TIME: 10 mins COOK TIME: 15 mins TOTAL TIME: 25 mins

Marinara
4 lbs ripe tomatoes, quartered
1 small yellow onion, quartered
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp Italian seasoning
Salt, to taste
Mozzarella Cheese Sticks
12 mozzarella string cheese sticks
⅓ cup flour
1 pinch salt
1 pinch pepper
1 egg
2 tbsp milk
¾ cup plain panko breadcrumbs
1 tbsp grated parmesan cheese
½ tsp garlic powder
½ tsp dried thyme
½ tsp dried parsley
½ tsp dried oregano
½ tsp dried basil
Crushed red pepper, to taste (optional)
Vegetable oil, for frying
Tools 
Baking sheet 
Immersion blender 
Large pot 

  1. Preheat oven to 450°F.
  2. Place the quartered tomatoes and onion onto a large baking sheet and toss with the olive oil, Italian seasoning, and salt.
  3. Roast for 30-40 minutes.
  4. Remove from the oven and transfer everything to a large bowl.
  5. Use an immersion blender to blend until mostly smooth. (Alternatively, you can transfer everything to a blender and blend until mostly smooth.)
  6. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  7. Combine the flour, salt, and pepper in a shallow dish. Whisk together the egg and milk in another shallow dish. And combine the breadcrumbs, grated parmesan, and seasonings in a third shallow dish. 
  8. Take one string cheese stick, dredge in the flour mixture, and shake off the excess. Dip into the egg mixture, then coat with the breadcrumb mixture, lightly pressing to make sure it sticks.
  9. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet and repeat with the remaining cheese sticks. Place the cheese sticks in the freezer for at least 1 hour.
  10. Fill a large, heavy-bottomed pot with about 2" of oil and heat on medium until it reaches 350°F.
  11. Working in batches of about 4 at a time, carefully drop the cheese sticks into the oil and cook for about 2 minutes, turning occasionally, until they are golden brown and crisp.
  12. Transfer to a paper towel lined plate and season with a pinch of salt.
  13. Serve with marinara and enjoy!