Why You Need To Try Mozzarella Sticks With Melba Sauce

Who doesn't love mozzarella sticks? While this classic appetizer that has appeared on thousands of menus may seem passé, the sticks are delicious and can be a full meal for some. (You can make them at home: Try these air fryer mozzarella sticks). The melty, soft cheese is encased in a crisp breadstick crust, which makes them salty, crunchy, crisp, creamy, and savory all in the same bite.

You can't have mozzarella sticks without something to dip them in. Traditionally, warmed marinara sauce or any red pasta sauce is served with this snack. But some people dip their sticks in ketchup, or a mustard sauce, or — for a double cheese whammy — cheese sauce. And while those sauces are all well and good, there's another you should try: melba sauce. Yes, melba sauce, that sweet sauce made from raspberries that is usually served with poached peaches for the classic dessert peach melba.

All about melba sauce

Melba sauce, according to the Food Network, was created in the 1800s by the French chef Auguste Escoffier and named for Dame Nellie Melba, who was a famous opera singer from Australia. (He reportedly also created melba toast and served the raspberry sauce with peaches to make peach melba).

But how on earth did anyone think to pair this sweet and tangy sauce with crunchy mozzarella sticks? According to The Takeout, this strange and delicious combination got its start as the invention of a chef in Virginia more than 30 years ago, who then migrated to Albany, New York and introduced it to locals. Now this delicious combo is served in several restaurants in the area.

The pairing of fruit and cheese isn't so obscure: Think about cheese boards, which often offer pears, grapes, and other fruits alongside cheese options like Brie and cheddar, per Martha Stewart. What's better with something crisp and salty than something smooth and sweet? 

Mozzarella sticks in melba sauce

While you can buy melba sauce at the store, the recipe is so simple you should make your own. It can be made in a couple of ways: In the traditional recipe, you simmer whole fresh raspberries with some sugar and red currant jelly for the correct texture and a sweet and tart flavor, per Seattle Times; Or make a simpler, yet still classic recipe, appropriately enough from Escoffier, with raspberries, confectioner's sugar, and lemon juice. You can strain it to remove the seeds or not. It's sweet and tart and smooth and wonderful.

Now that you have tasted the delicious combination of cheese and fruit, what else can you pair with melba sauce? How about a grilled cheese sandwich (try this frico-crusted grilled cheese), or classic jalapeño poppers? And of course, put a little jar of it on your next cheese board to drizzle over cheeses or as a dip with fruit.