It was an appetizer at Crush that first got me thinking about the merits of burrata: CRUSH BRUSCHETTA – heirloom cherry tomatoes, burrata cheese, basil pesto, toasted sourdough. Delicious! I liked it so much better than buffalo milk mozzarella which is usually the cheese of choice when it comes to tomatoes, basil and caprese-type salads.
A little research turned up a 2014 Huffington Post article by a fellow burrata lover: Burrata Recipes So Divine, You’ll Be Convinced It’s The Earth’s Best Cheese, in which food editor, Kate Bratskeir gives a good definition of Burrata: “If you’ve never tried it, or have never heard of it, allow us to elaborate: Burrata starts out as mozzarella. Milky curds are dipped into hot water and kneaded into a familiarly-springy ball of fresh mozzarella. But then, mozzarella curd scraps are stuffed into the inside of the ball of cheese, and then they get topped off with fresh cream. The whole package is sealed up by twisting the mozzarella together in a little knot, and this miracle of a cheese is sent on its way.
When you cut into a ball of burrata you find a center of cream and cheese curds that has a texture begging to be spread on toasted bread, melted on pizza, torn into chunks on a melon caprese salad.
Both fresh mozzarella and burrata are semi-soft Italian cheeses – both are super creamy and delicious, both are in high demand when tomatoes start to ripen. Fresh mozzarella is made from cow or water buffalo’s milk, mozzarella di bufala. The difference is that burrata takes the mozzarella one step further – “it’s mozzarella that’s formed into a pouch and then filled with soft, stringy curd and cream.
Fresh mozzarella has a delicate milky flavor and an elastic, sliceable texture while burrata has a milky, buttery flavor that’s rich without being too indulgent and a texture that is more suitable for tearing or spreading. Although made from mozzarella cheese, burrata is not mozzarella – it is its own, very special type of cheese.
Both cheeses are fresh – made to be eaten fresh, not aged, both are reasonably priced and available at cheese shops and grocery stores, and both can be made at home.
Burrata is best served at room temperature, and best used in recipes where you can split it open to enjoy the rich, creamy insides. Choose fresh mozzarella, which is a little cheaper for melted applications like pizza, where you’ll lose burrata’ s distinctive texture.
My first foray into cooking with burrata was this salad from What’s Gaby Cooking. It was great for a hot summer night’s supper before the serious tomatoes are ripe. We used Comanche Creek heirloom cherry tomatoes and Belfiore Burrata, made by a family owned fresh mozzarella company in Berkeley where the cheese curds are stretched while still hot, then formed into small balls and stored in fresh, filtered water.
Marinated Tomato and Burrata Salad
For the Vinaigrette
2 teaspoons Garlic, Minced
2 teaspoons Shallots, Minced
teaspoons Dried Oregano
2 teaspoons Dried Parsley
½ teaspoons Freshly Cracked Black Pepper
½ teaspoons Kosher Salt
¼ cups Red Wine Vinegar
2 Tablespoons Finely Shredded Parmesan Cheese
1 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
For the Salad
4 cups heirloom tomatoes, halved (cherry tomatoes and larger tomatoes)
8 oz burrata cheese, torn into large bite sized pieces
Kosher salt and pepper to taste
Instructions for the Vinaigrette
Combine all the ingredients in a food processor except the olive oil and whirl together for 1-2 minutes until everything is finely chopped. While the food processor is still running, stream in the olive oil until fully incorporated. Transfer the vinaigrette to an air-tight container and set aside until ready to use.
In a large bowl, combine the cherry tomatoes and ½ of the vinaigrette and toss to combine. Save the remaining vinaigrette for future use. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed. Let the mixture sit for 20 minutes and then serve at room temperature with torn chunks of burrata on top.
Erin tried this next recipe from Tieghan Gerard’s Half-Baked Harvest with her family last week, and the boys, Jack, age 7 and Asher age 5 loved it. “Whoa, Mom – That’s so Fancy! You should make that again!” Cantaloupe, honeydew, and watermelon make up this untraditional caprese salad. Tossed with a basil infused lemon vinaigrette and finished off with fresh burrata cheese, this melon caprese salad is the perfect light, refreshing, and delicious appetizer or snack.
Melon Caprese Salad
Prep Time 20 minutes, Total Time 20 minutes Servings 6
3 balls fresh burrata cheese
4 cups melon balls (I used watermelon, cantaloupe, and honeydew)
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
2 tablespoons fresh mint leaves
6 slices prosciutto
Honey Herb Vinaigrette
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons honey
juice of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
1 cup fresh basil
1 tablespoon toasted pine nuts
1 pinch flaky sea salt.
Break the burrata in half and place each half in the bottom of a small bowl or glass (about 8 ounces). Over the burrata, layer the melon balls, basil, and mint. Top with a slice of prosciutto.
At this point the salad can be covered and placed in the fridge for up to 6 hours.
Before serving, drizzle over the vinaigrette (recipe follows).
To make the vinaigrette, combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.
Although pizza is not the best use of burrata, this recipe from howsweeteats is light and fresh for summer and takes full advantage of burrata’s flavor. If you don’t have time to make pizza dough, its available fresh at the grocery store, or you can build your pizza on a Boboli.
Artichoke Burrata Pizza with Lemon Basil Pesto
1 1/8 cups warm water
3 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
4 cups fresh basil
1 lemon, zest freshly grated and juiced
1/2 cup finely grated asiago cheese
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
3 garlic cloves
1/2 to 3/4 cup olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
4 ounces freshly grated provolone cheese
2 balls of burrata cheese
1 (12 ounce) jar of marinated artichoke hearts, drained
a few fresh basil leaves for garnish
In a large bowl, combine water, yeast, honey and olive oil. Mix with a spoon, then let sit until foamy, about 10 minutes. Add in 2 1/2 cups flour and salt, stirring with a spoon until the dough comes together but is still sticky. Using your hands, form the dough into a ball and work in the additional 1/2 cup flour, kneading it on a floured surface for a few minutes. Rub the same bowl with olive oil then place the dough inside, turning to coat. Cover with a towel and place in a warm place to rise for about 1-1 1/2 hours.
After the dough has risen, punch it down and place it back on the floured surface. Using a rolling pin or your hands, form it into your desired shape (sometimes I use baking sheets and do rectangles or free form pizzas – this specific dough will yield one pizza large enough to feed about 3-4 people) and place on a baking sheet or pizza pan. Place the towel back over the dough and let sit in the warm place for 10 minutes.
Heat the oven to 425 degrees F. (If I use my pizza stone, I heat my oven to 475 degrees and bake for 15 minutes. If you’re just using a baking sheet, follow the directions below for baking and set to 425 degrees.)
Meanwhile, make your pesto! Combine the basil, lemon zest, juice, cheese, pine nuts and garlic in a food processor. Pulse until small crumbs remain, and then with the processor running, stream in the olive oil. Start with the 1/2 cup and add the extra if needed to reach the desired consistency. Add the salt, pepper and pepper flakes and blend again. Taste and season additionally if needed.
Spread a few tablespoons of the pesto all over the dough. Top with the grated provolone. Tear apart the balls of burrata and place them all over the dough. Add the artichokes.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes (or around 15 to 20 minutes if using the pizza stone) until the cheese is golden and bubbly. Remove and top with the extra basil and parmesan if you wish. Slice and serve immediately.
This recipe for Burrata and Stone Fruit Salad lends itself to being presented on a board, with the dressing in a separate small pitcher to the side. Consider it something delicious to pick at on a summer afternoon with a glass of chilled Rosé and some slices of toasted baguette:
Stone Fruit and Burrata Salad
For the Salad
1 large ball of Burrata
2 Nectarines, cut into wedges
2 Plums, cut into wedges
2 Peaches, cut into wedges
1 Heirloom tomatoes, cut into wedges
1 cup Heirloom cherry tomatoes
Maldon Sea Salt + Freshly cracked black pepper
For the Champagne Vinaigrette
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tablespoon Dijon Mustard
1/4 cup champagne vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
For the Salad
On a large plate, arrange the nectarines, plums, peaches and heirloom tomato wedges. Carefully rip the ball of burrata into pieces and scatter on top of the fruit along with the cherry tomatoes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and a few baby leaves of fresh mint.
Drizzle with a few tablespoons of the champagne vinaigrette and serve immediately. Serve with extra vinaigrette if needed.
For the Champagne Vinaigrette
Combine all the ingredients except the olive oil in a medium bowl and whisk together. Once combined, stream in the olive oil and continue to whisk until the vinaigrette comes together. Taste and adjust salt and pepper as needed. This dressing can be stored and refrigerated for 1 week.
For those that want to roll up their sleeves and have the satisfaction of mastering fresh burrata at home, here’s the recipe. You can find liquid rennet online or at a specialty food store.
There is a helpful detailed video of Chef Boudet making burrata on You Tube: How to Make Burrata Cheese at Home/How To, if you want to look before you leap.
From Brandon Boudet, Dominick’s Restaurant, Hollywood, CA
1-gallon raw milk
1 1/2 teaspoons citric acid
8-10 drops liquid vegetable rennet
3-4 tablespoons raw cream
1 teaspoon kosher salt (iodine-free)
Toasted, garlic-rubbed ciabatta, for serving (optional)
Roasted red peppers, for serving (optional)
Fresh basil, for serving (optional)
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling (optional)
In a large stainless steel pot, heat raw milk. Dissolve citric acid in 1/4 cup cool water; add citric acid and water solution to raw milk, stirring lightly until the milk reaches 100ºF, and the curds start to separate from the whey. Remove from heat; add 8-10 drops vegetable rennet.
Stir in rennet slowly, then wait 15 minutes until mixture has coagulated and curds have completely separated from whey, like a large piece of silken tofu.
Cut coagulated mixture into 1-inch squares with a knife. Return to heat, stirring slowly, until temperature rises to 105ºF, allowing whey begins to be released from the curds. Remove from heat, continuing to stir slowly, for about 10 minutes, until more solid masses have formed.
Pour mixture through a large colander, allowing whey to drain off. Transfer 1/4 of curds to a small bowl, and, using your hands, break apart curds until they are the size of cottage cheese. Add 3-4 tablespoons of raw cream to the mixture; set aside.
Place the remaining 3/4 of curds into a large bowl of hot water (as hot as your hands can handle!) seasoned with kosher, iodine-free salt. Clump curds together, forming three distinct balls of mozzarella.
Add a little more hot water; allow the balls to melt and soften so they can be stretched, about 10 minutes. Knead and stretch each ball about 10-15 minutes, as you would when making a thin pizza, pulling until you achieve a circle that is 7-8 inches across.
Spoon reserved curd-and-cream mixture evenly across all three stretched cheese circles. Fold each circle as you would a burrito, ensuring the curd-and-cream mixture if completely covered by mozzarella. Return the burrata to the hot water to seal it completely.
Serve alongside toasted, garlic-rubbed ciabatta slices, roasted red peppers, fresh basil, and a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil, if desired. Makes 3 large burrata balls.
Happy 4th of July – Bring the burrata!