Ravenous Fig

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The one where I tell you what's behind that gorgeous burrata photo

Burrata salad

Last week we made what might just be the quintessential summer lunch. It was the most unusual salad I've had probably ever, combining sweet cubes of watermelon with tart, juicy heirloom cherry tomatoes and the most uncanny cheese: burrata.

Burrata was new to me until I came across it in Laurent Tourondel's gorgeous Fresh from the Market cookbook. It's one of those cheeses you'd be hard-pressed to find in a standard American grocery store, since it's short-lived and finnicky.

burrata

Burrata. Image credit: Francesca Palazzi

Luckily, there's a new cheese shop in Durham, Reliable Cheese. They carry a wide range of top-notch cheeses, and the guy who seems to be running the place is incredibly knowledgeable about them. Anyway, they tweeted that they had a fresh supply of burrata in stock so I jumped on the chance to finally make this beautiful salad.

I'd tell you more about this most unusual cheese, but the truth is I'm not an expert on the subject. According to 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 usually served fresh, at room temperature. The name "burrata" means "buttered" in Italian.

And that's what's so great about it. The outside is deceptively buffalo-mozzarella-like. Inside, the flavor and texture are more like sour cream, which is a surprising and delicious accompaniment to a salad with as many strong flavors as this one has.

To be honest, I'll probably retreat to a standard balsamic vinegar, basil, and heirloom tomato version of this salad the next time I find a source for burrata. But for those who love both watermelon and ginger, this one is a showstopper.

Ginger-marinated Heirloom Tomatoes with Watermelon, Burrata, and Spicy Arugula

If you're lucky enough to stumble upon a source for burrata, give this beautiful salad a whirl. The recipe comes from the lovely Fresh from the Market. Serves 6.

Ingredients

  • 1 piece (6 inches) fresh ginger, peeled
  • ½ cup + 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons aged sherry vinegar
  • 24 baby heirloom tomatoes or multicolored vine-ripened tomatoes, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • ½ cup thinly sliced red onion
  • ¼ cup roughly chopped fresh basil
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups 1-inch pieces red or yellow seedless watermelon
  • 2 cups baby arugula
  • ¼ cup cured black olives, pitted and sliced
  • 2 pieces burrata, 8 ounces each

Recipe

Grate the ginger on the large holes of a box grater. Wrap the grated ginger in a piece of cheesecloth and squeeze over a medium bowl to extract the juice (alternately, press through a tiny sieve). This should result in about 4 tablespoons of juice. Whisk the ginger juice, the ½ cup of olive oil, and the sherry vinegar in a medium bowl to blend. Add the tomatoes, red onion, and half of he basil and toss until well combined. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside for 30 minutes to allow tomatoes to marinate. Add the watermelon to the marinated tomatoes and toss until well combined. Toss the arugula in another bowl with the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil and season to taste with salt and pepper. Divide the tomato and watermelon mixture among 6 plates, or arrange in a pretty platter. Garnish with the remaining basil and the black olives. Cut each piece of burrata into 3 pieces. Spoon the burrata evenly over the tomatoes and top with the arugula. Serve immediately.
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