Most people we know select three cheeses for a cheese plate and add a crusty loaf of bread.
The more ambitious add some nuts and fresh or dried fruits.
We get a bit more elaborate (see our list of cheese garnishes).
Years ago, on a trip to Italy, we were inspired by mostarda di frutta, a sweet-and-hot fruit and mustard condiment. Now, it’s our go-to condiment with Italian cheeses.
Think of mostarda as a mustardy fruit chutney. It’s lovely to look at: Whole small fruits or larger pieces of fruit are beautifully suspended in a clear syrup.
Initially, mostarda was a condiment served with bollito misto, a plate of mixed boiled meats that’s a specialty of northern Italian cuisine (the boiled ingredients vary by region, and an elaborate version can include seven kinds of meat, seven vegetables and seven condiments—consider it for a special dinner party).
Mostarda: fresh fruits candied in a mustard-
sugar syrup. Photo by Silvio | Wikimedia.
Over the last few decades, mostarda has become a popular cheese condiment as well.
And as with any recipe, each region of Italy has its own mostarda variation; you can find many of them online. Fruit is the main ingredient—apples, cherries, figs, pears, quince or a mixture of whatever is plentiful in the region. Raisins, nuts and other ingredients can be added to create the condiment of your dreams (try some cardamom pods, for example—not traditionally Italian, but very exciting).
In addition to serving mostarda with cheese—as a side or drizzled over a slice, tome or other shape—you can serve it:
You can find many mostarda recipes online, and can purchase it in specialty food stores and Italian markets. You can also buy it online.
Don’t be put off by the high price for a small jar. If you look at the ingredients in the recipe, you’ll see it as a bargain.
By the way, mostarda’s origins date back to the honey and mustard condiments of ancient Rome. Grape must (freshly pressed grape juice) was mixed with ground mustard seeds and honey to create a sweet mustard. Later, fruit was added.
Let us know how you like it.
Discover the world of mustard in our Mustard Glossary.
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