All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2012
I covered this once before in July but it is worth a second peek.
First of all, caprese is pronounced ca-pray-zay with the emphasis on pray. Another Italian menu item rampantly mispronounced is bruschetta. It is not – as is so commonly thought – pronounced brush-etta – but rather brusketta. You are less likely to get corrected by anyone if you say brushetta, because most people think this is the proper pronunciation, but nobody from Italy wold ever correct your saying brusketta. Anyway…
Burrata – definition courtesy Wikipedia:
Burrata is a fresh Italian cheese, made from mozzarella and cream. The outer shell is solid mozzarella while the inside contains both mozzarella and cream, giving it an unusual, soft texture. It is also defined by some sources as an outer shell of mozzarella filled with butter or a mixture of butter and sugar. It is usually served fresh, at room temperature. The name “burrata” means “buttered” in Italian.
Burrata is gaining in popularity and with that comes greater accessibility. If you have COSTCO in your region – Costco has been carrying it & it is reasonably priced. Sometimes Trader Joe’s has it – also at a fair price. At these places – it comes the way buffalo mozzarella does – floating in water in a plastic container in the refrigerated section. If you are lucky enough to have a fine cheese shop or, even better, an authentic Italian market around – you are about to be in heaven. These places will likely have it stored in water or wrapped tightly in plastic wrap – and sitting out at room temperature – as it should be.
Burrata is a very mildly flavored cheese and it shouldn’t have to compete with anything to be experienced at its best. Sliced, ripe tomatoes, shredded basil and some salt & pepper is all I would suggest. Ever. If you want to get fancy, you can cut your basil in the chiffonade style – which is just to roll the basil into tubes the long way & then slice into thin strips. It creates little basil ribbons. Pretty – but not entirely necessary.
Heirloom tomatoes are nice here (with burrata) because they tend to be genuinely ripe – rather than dyed red (or yellow or green). They are very costly, though. I paid $4 for one yellow/orange heirloom tomato yesterday, where the “vine-ripe” tomatoes were only $1.49 lb. The heirlooms were closer to $5 a pound. But there really is a huge difference.
In my opinion, burrata isn’t good for cooking because it is far too wet & too mild to compete flavor-wise. On its own, it is a creamy delight. Serve it as pictured and maybe serve some crusty bread & a nice bottle of Sauvignon Blanc you are good to go!
Fresh Burrata Caprese Salad – Fresh Mozzarella with Heirloom Tomatoes & Basil Chiffonade
About 1 very ripe tomato per person – sliced
Enough Burrata (or fresh mozzarella if burrat is unavailable) to cover the tomato slices – sliced
Lots of shredded, chopped basil or basil chiffonade
S&P to taste
Slice your tomatoes about 1/2 inch think. Same with the cheese. Top the tomatoes with the cheese, basil and S&P. Voila!