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Have you noticed how sometimes an ingredient you'd never heard of before is suddenly on menus everywhere? Sometimes, such ingredients are nothing but trendy, seeming to vanish as quickly as they arrived. But other times, they stay around, becoming wonderful standbys we enjoy often, can find in markets everywhere, and learn to prepare in our own kitchens.
That is certainly the case with the Italian cheese known as burrata.
The name of this cousin of mozzarella literally means "buttered," but it gets its distinctive character not from butter but from cream. Burrata is made in a process that, though distinctive, is fairly easy to understand.
Do you know how mozzarella cheese can be easily pulled apart into rag-like layers? Well, long ago, thrifty Italian cheese makers found a way to make use of leftover scraps, or ritagli, of mozzarella, stuffing them into elastic little pouches that they then filled with cream and tied off with a topknot to seal in the filling. The result was a kind of super-soft mozzarella that oozed creamy richness with every bite.
I love to eat burrata on its own, accompanied by crusty bread or some grilled crostini rubbed with garlic and extra-virgin olive oil. From there, you can make it the star of all kinds of simple salads -- accompanied by fresh sun-ripened tomatoes and fresh basil leaves; or by grilled radicchio or broccolini; or with other vegetables you like. Thinly sliced prosciutto or any other good-quality ham you enjoy would make another great addition. And fruit goes beautifully with burrata, from the autumn pears in the recipe I share here to fresh figs to slices of juicy melon such as cantaloupe or honeydew.
Where to look for burrata? You'll find it nowadays not only in Italian delis and gourmet foods shops but also in the cheese departments of many well-stocked supermarkets.
Many people mistakenly think that the burrata they eat is imported from Italy. In fact, some of the best burrata served in restaurants and enjoyed at home today is now made in the United States, both by small boutique dairies and also by larger cheese-making companies that were founded years ago by Italian immigrant families. That only makes sense, because freshness is key to good burrata. Check a packaging or sell-by date before you buy the cheese. Refrigerate it, wrapped airtight, as soon as you get it home, and serve the cheese as soon as possible -- but no later than a couple of days after purchase.
Try Autumn Pear And Burrata Salad With Eiswein Vinaigrette my recipe to help you savor burrata at its best. Then have fun coming up with your own variations, making this now-popular cheese part of your own regular kitchen repertoire.
Autumn Pear And Burrata Salad With Eiswein Vinaigrette
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Yield: Serves 4
Autumn Pear And Burrata Salad With Eiswein Vinaigrette Recipe Ingredients
2 tablespoons ice wine (eiswein) or other sweet white dessert wine
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar, preferably aged
1 teaspoon Champagne vinegar
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
4 ripe but firm organic pears, such as Bartlett, Bosc, Anjou, or Asian
1/2 pound burrata or fresh buffalo mozzarella, at room temperature, cut into 4 slices
4 thin slices of prosciutto (optional)
2 cups organic baby arugula leaves, about 1-1/2 ounces
Autumn Pear And Burrata Salad With Eiswein Vinaigrette Recipe Directions
In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the ice wine, balsamic vinegar, and Champagne vinegar. Season to taste with salt and pepper, stirring until the salt has dissolved. Whisking continuously, drizzle in the olive oil. Taste and, if necessary, adjust the seasonings with a little more salt and pepper.
Cut the pears lengthwise in halves. Neatly cut out the stems and the fibers attached to them. Using a melon baller or a small, sharp-edged teaspoon, neatly scoop out the seeds from each half. With a small, sharp knife, cut the pear halves lengthwise into slices about 1/4 inch thick.
Put the pear halves in a shallow dish. Drizzle them with 1-1/2 tablespoons of the dressing and gently turn them until thoroughly coated.
Arrange the pear slices neatly on individual chilled salad plates, reserving the dish in which you dressed them. Place a piece of burrata on top of the pears on each plate and drizzle 1 tablespoon total of the dressing over the cheese pieces. If you like, drape a slice of prosciutto over the cheese on each plate.
Put the arugula leaves in the reserved shallow dish. Drizzle the remaining dressing over the leaves and toss to coat them thoroughly. Place a mound of arugula on each plate. Serve immediately.
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Wolfgang Puck's Autumn Pear & Burrata Salad with Eiswein Vinaigrette
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