Its history in Italy and the United States underscores an important fact about mozzarella cheese: Although they all share the name “mozzarella,” there are actually several different varieties of the beloved Italian cheese, each with its own unique characteristics.
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It’s easy to overlook ricotta. Mild, fluffy and slightly sweet, the Italian cheese is most closely associated with lasagna, where it’s typically blended with mozzarella and Parmesan. (The same mixture figures prominently in ravioli, manicotti and cannoli as well.) Indeed, for both professional chefs and home cooks, ricotta often plays a supporting (rather than starring) role.