Burrata cheese, you… you complete me. Mozzarella was my summer favorite, then I met you. Burrata (meaning ‘buttered’ in Italian), is made from the same stringy curd as buffalo mozzarella, but it is stretched and pulled into hollow ball and then filled with cream and the shreds of soft stringy mozzarella curds.
I had to poke it before cutting in. Would it spring back? Nope. That indentation stayed right there, as it should. And once cut into, it started oozing right away. How is this better than buffalo mozzarella you might be wondering? And why should you venture away from the nice neat slicing and stacking ability of mozz’ in your next tomato caprese salad?
Well, besides it being literally melt in your mouth luscious (which is selling point enough for me), it becomes saucy and spreads easily. I managed to coax it into wedge slabs for my plate of homegrown grilled eggplant and peppers with fresh oregano. Once I dug in to eat, it transformed into a creamy sauce with some stringy bits and melded with a syrupy sweet 25-year aged balsamic vinegar, just the thing to counter the earthy slices of eggplant. A squeeze of lemon to finish and I had reached my summer culinary nirvana (see recipe below). The fresh greek oregano pictured in the background is not nearly as strong as dried oregano, usually a little goes a long way but in this dish I found I could use a little more of it. As not all oreganos are the same, your mileage may vary.
For breakfast it was burrata on toast with vanilla-honey scented peaches and white pepper. I sliced an 1/8 of a vanilla pod open and scraped out the caviar specks with a paring knife and stirred it into a tablespoon of wildflower honey and drizzled. Then I made some extra vanilla honey, because you really just can’t have too much of that stuff around.
Note: Burrata is best finished after 24-48 hours of opening. The cheese monger at my local Whole Foods mentioned they only carry it the warmer months, ie, spring and summer, so get it while you can.
Recipe: Grilled Eggplant and Heirloom Peppers with Burrata, Fresh Oregano and Aged Balsamic Serves 2
1 large or 2 small eggplants, sliced about a half-inch thick
5 small sweet peppers, de-seeded and cored
1 half of one ball of Burrata cheese, carefully sliced into wedge slabs
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
2 TBS aged balsamic vinegar, (or if unavailable, balsamic vinegar reduction)
1 Tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
Slice eggplant. Sprinkle liberally with salt and drain slices over a colander for 20-30 minutes. This will help to draw out any bitterness in the eggplant. Rinse off excess salt and pat slices dry. Heat grill or grill pan and brush eggplant slices and peppers with olive oil and sprinkle with pepper. Grill over medium high flame on the first side for 5-8 minutes, or until grill marks appear. Flip them when the purple skin on the sides becomes charred and the tops become somewhat tender and wet looking. Turn peppers a quarter turn every two minutes or as they begin to char. After flipping eggplant, grill for another 5-7 minutes or until the eggplant looks tender or any moisture bubbles a bit.
Drape slabs of burrata cheese over the plated eggplant slices and peppers. Salt and pepper liberally, drizzle with aged balsamic vinegar, sprinkle fresh chopped oregano and finish with a squeeze of lemon.