A few years ago, I began my love affair with burrata cheese. I’m happy to report I am now officially married to it. Burrata is no longer for special occasions or special recipes. Instead, it’s one of those items that will always be in my cheese repertoire, especially come summertime.
When I serve it and people ask me about it, I tell them it will surprise them. Why? Because burrata is this neat, soft and supple pouch of cheese with a delicious surprise inside. It’s the premier rich and creamy cheese.
If you’re not familiar with burrata (boor-RAH-ta), think of it as the smooth and creamy cousin of fresh mozzarella. The exterior is smooth and soft like fresh mozzarella, but it’s the mozzarella curds and the cream nestled in the interior that make it rich-tasting and delightful. Once you cut or tear into it, the cream and curds ooze out.
Food experts say burrata hails from the Puglia region of Italy and came about as a way to use up scraps of mozzarella cheese. Its name is said to be derived from “burro,” meaning buttered in Italian.
Most grocery stores now carry burrata, though several years ago, I could find it only at specialty cheese shops and higher-end stores.
Zach Sievers, Zingerman’s Creamy Cream Top Shop assistant manager in Ann Arbor, Mich., said summer is an ideal time for burrata.
“As fresh basil is coming into season, we sell about double,” Sievers said. “Especially once tomatoes come into season, we start flying through all our burrata and fresh mozzarella.”
You can pair burrata with most anything that works well with fresh mozzarella.
Here are few ideas:
Serve on crostini (little toasts) or grilled rustic bread on its own or topped with fresh herbs (like basil), a drizzling of olive oil and sprinkling of freshly ground black and coarse sea salt.
Pair with fresh quartered or sliced tomatoes and a drizzling of olive oil and balsamic glaze.
Place a burrata pouch on a plate, tear open so the curds and cream ooze out and serve with grilled peaches, nectarines or figs.
Add to any fresh cooked pasta dishes.
Top mixed greens with pieces of burrata or add to cold pasta salads.
Try today’s pizza topped with burrata, onions and prosciutto. Cut into small pieces for a terrific summer appetizer. You can bake this in the oven or on the grill. If you plan on grilling the pizza, roll out the dough so it’s thin. Brush dough with olive oil and place on the grill for a few minutes on one side to get some nice grill marks. Keep an eye on it because it can easily burn. Turn over and add the toppings and continue grilling until the cheese melts some. And for a final finish, add some fresh basil leaves just before serving.
PIZZA WITH BURRATA CHEESE, CARAMELIZED ONIONS AND PROSCIUTTO
Makes: 2 pizzas (about 8 wedges each) / Prep time: 30 minutes (plus dough rising time) / Total time: 1 hour
1 pound pizza dough, follow rising instructions
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
4 to 5 cups sliced onions
3 cloves roasted garlic, sliced
4 to 6 thin slices prosciutto, torn into pieces or strips
8 ounces (or more) fresh burrata cheese
Balsamic glaze, optional
Extra flour for dusting your work surface
1 teaspoon cornmeal
Fresh basil leaves
Once the dough has come to room temperature, divide it in two. Shape each half into a ball and let them rise until almost double in size.
Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of oil over medium heat. Add the onion slices and cook until they are golden brown and caramelized. The onions will reduce to more than half of the original volume.
When ready to prepare everything, preheat the oven to 500 degrees. If using, place a pizza stone in the oven while the oven preheats for at least 30 minutes.
Once the dough has doubled, roll each ball out to an 8- to 10-inch shape. It doesn’t have to be perfect.
Let the dough relax for a few minutes and reshape again if necessary.
Transfer the pizza dough to a pizza peel (if you have one) dusted with cornmeal or flour. If you don’t have a peel, use a large upside-down baking sheet. This helps transfer the unbaked and baked pizza to the stone.
Drizzle 1 tablespoon of the olive oil onto the dough and spread it all over the surface. Scatter half of the caramelized onions and roasted garlic on top. Top with the prosciutto pieces.
Take the burrata and break it up into small pieces. Drop pieces randomly over the prosciutto and other ingredients, but don’t overcrowd the pizza.
Carefully transfer the prepared pizza to the stone and place in the oven. Prepare the other pizza while the first one bakes.
Bake pizzas for about 7-10 minutes or until the cheese melts some and bubbles and the prosciutto is slightly crispy. Remove from oven using the pizza peel and cool a few minutes. Place the other pizza in the oven.
Drizzle the pizza with some balsamic glaze and slice into wedges. Top with basil leaves and serve immediately.
From and tested by Susan Selasky for the Free Press Test Kitchen. Analysis per 1 wedge
192 calories (47 percent from fat), 10 g fat (4 g saturated fat), 15 g carbohydrates, 8 g protein, 216 mg sodium, 23 mg cholesterol, 1 g fiber.
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