Burrata: A History of & Burrata Salad Recipe

30 May, 2015

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Ostuni restaurant’s cheese supplier Masseria Fragnite in Puglia, making burrata

Ah, burrata – no self-respecting food-lover is unaware of its virtues – an outer shell of mozzarella filled with strips of stracciatella dipped in double cream; it’s a rich, unctuous, and simultaneously refreshing creamy treat.

Despite its luxury status on London’s small-plates menus, burrata was initially made as a way of using up the ritagli (scraps) of mozzarella that couldn’t be used elsewhere, and enjoyed a quiet life from its invention in Puglia in Southern Italy in the 1920s (see our piece on the region here: Trend Spotlight: Puglian Food Trend in London) up until about five years ago, when the rest of the Western world began to acquire a taste for it.

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Cows on the site of Puglian burrata and cheese supplier Masseria Fragnite in Ceglie Messapica

Now it is rumoured that Puglian cheese suppliers sell more burrata in London than in the whole of Puglia, and you can see how: since its opening in 2011 Ottolenghi’s Nopi has served its burrata untraditionally with coriander seeds, lavender, blood orange and toast, one of the most talked-about dishes at Polpetto has been head chef Florence Knight’s burrata dish, (see our piece the chef and new Sunday Times cook here: Women in the Kitchen: Polpetto Head Chef and Cookbook Author Florence Knight) served with olive oil, agretti and chilli, plus Puglian restaurant Ostuni champions their home produce a few ways as part of cold antipasti dishes, including pairing traditionally with tomato and, more daringly, with tuna tartare.

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A spin on the burrata trend – a starter at Ostuni restaurant with mozzarella dipped in burrata cream, dressed tomatoes on friselle and rocket

Burrata’s freshness is a big part of the appeal, but can prove troublesome for trade – it is recommended burrata be eaten up to 24-48 hours after being made. Suppliers selling great burrata you can eat and cook with at home are La Fromagerie, selling burrata straight from Bari, in the middle of Puglia, Neals Yard Dairy, and Italian food importer Machiavelli.

To win the affection of guests or to simply indulge yourself, the following is a burrata salad recipe of mine with zest, a subtle smokiness and colourful and on-trend beetroot that makes a creative pair for our beloved burrata.

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Masseria Fragnite owner Cosimo stuffing burrata with a team member

Burrata Salad Recipe: Roasted Heritage Beetroot, Burrata & Smoked Cherry Tomatoes

4 x medium heritage beets, greens removed, scrubbed clean
I x punnet of Isle of Wight oak smoked cherry tomatoes
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 x tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
Splash of sherry vinegar
Splash of red wine vinegar
Torn fresh basil leaves
Grated orange zest
Squeeze of orange juice (optional)

1.) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and place the beets in a roasting pan with about an inch of water.
2.) Cover with tin foil, bake for an hour, or until the beets are easily pierced with a fork.
3.) Slip off the skins while the beets are still warm. Roasted beets will keep for 2 or 3 days in the refrigerator.

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The summery salad before the burrata, with colourful yellow and red heritage beetroots

1.) Add the olive oil to a small bowl, whisk in the vinegars, add the orange zest, and grind in some pepper and season with sea salt flakes.
2.) Squeeze in some orange juice if desired.
3.) Taste and adjust for acid and salt. The dressing should be somewhat tart so add more red wine vinegar if necessary.
4.) Dice the beets into roughly 1/2 inch cubes.
5.) Place the beets in a bowl and season with salt and pepper.
6.) Whisk the vinaigrette and pour it over the beets. Toss the beets in the dressing.
7.) Add the smoked cherry tomatoes, add the torn basil leaves and top with torn burrata. Enjoy!

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The irresistible finished product – our burrata salad recipe

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