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The Queen of Mozzarella

Burrata: It’s not just for summer anymore.


Published:

Cedric Glasier

Burrata is the most luxurious mozzarella on the market, its center oozing cream at the mere mention of a meal. Sadly, for most of us, mozzarella has become synonymous with summer. Happily, Burrata’s season, just like mozzarella, can be stretched.

“You don’t need a tomato to elevate Burrata,” says Laura Werlin, the San Francisco author of The New American Cheese. “You needn’t do anything other than put it on the end of a fork.” (Well, a little extra virgin olive oil and salt would be nice.) But this is an increasingly popular restaurant dish accessible to even the clumsiest home cook. And cool-weather months shouldn’t rule it out.

At Ottavio in Walnut Creek, owner Valentino Luchin serves his popular Burrata with roasted radicchio and speck, a sliced smoked ham. Mangia Mi in Pleasanton pairs it with grilled toast, a light pesto, and prosciutto. And at A16 Rockridge, Rocky Maselli serves it several ways: with winter chicories, with toasted flatbread and tarragon-and-pistachio pesto, and atop Montanara—fried pizza with smoked tomato sauce.

For Maselli, there’s no purer expression of cheese than Burrata. “In Puglia, they don’t even consider it to be cheese,” Maselli says. “It’s a fresh milk product meant to be consumed immediately.” Maselli’s Burrata brand of choice is Gioia, sold by Jeff Diamond of Farmstead Cheeses and Wines in Alameda and Montclair. (Gioia and Di Stefano, a slightly less expensive brand, can also be ordered online directly from the companies.)

Diamond sells some 3,500 Burrata balls a year, the vast majority in summer.  “After Labor Day, I put away the white shoes and put away the Burrata.” But he’d like to change that.

His favorite winter preparation? Salt and pepper, virgin olive oil, a little balsamic vinegar, oregano, torn garlic croutons, and bitter lettuces.

So dive in. Those garden tomatoes will be a long time a-coming.

Find recipes from Diamond and Luchin below.


 

BURRATA RECIPES

Burrata Cheese with Melon or Figs

From Jeff Diamond, owner of Farmstead Cheeses and Wine in Alameda and Montclair

Serves 6
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling

3 fresh rosemary sprigs

1 small cantaloupe or 12–18 perfectly ripe figs (preferably Black Mission)

3 balls burrata

Sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Directions
Heat a small saucepan over medium heat. Add olive oil and rosemary and cook until the leaves begin to crisp. Transfer rosemary sprigs to a paper towel for at least 10 minutes. Strip the leaves from the stem, discarding the stems. Cut melon into chunks (or cut each fig in half), and divide among six plates. Tear each ball of cheese in half, and add a portion to each plate. Sprinkle the crisped rosemary on top of the burrata and fruit, season with salt and pepper, and drizzle with olive oil.

 

Pasta with Burrata, Spinach, Lemon, and Toasted Almonds

From Jeff Diamond, owner of Farmstead Cheeses and Wine in Alameda and Montclair

Serves 4–6
1 pound hefty pasta (penne rigate, trenete, fusili, etc.)

2 tablespoons butter

1/3 cup olive oil

2 large garlic cloves, minced

1/4 cup lemon juice

1 teaspoon finely grated lemon peel

4 cups baby spinach (about 4 cups)

3/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted

1 pound burrata cheese, cut into 1-inch chunks (three 5-ounce balls)

Directions
Cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until tender but still firm to bite. Meanwhile, melt butter with oil in heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic; sauté until soft, about 2 minutes. Add lemon juice and lemon peel. Drain pasta; transfer to large bowl. Place spinach and almonds atop hot pasta. Pour hot lemon mixture over spinach. Toss until spinach is wilted, about 1 minute. Divide pasta among plates. Top with burrata cheese, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

 

Burrata Speck and Roasted Raddichio

From Valentino Luchin, owner/chef of Ottavio in Walnut Creek

Serves 2
1/2 head radicchio, cut in half

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

4 ounces burrata

3 ounces speck (or prosciutto)

1 tablespoon agrumato (lemon infused olive oil, available at upscale markets)

Directions
In an oven-proof dish, drizzle radicchio with olive oil and red wine and balsamic vinegars. Season with salt and fresh ground pepper, and roast in a 400-degree oven until just wilted, about 8 minutes. Place burrata in the center of a serving plate and top with the cooked radicchio. Arrange the speck or prosciutto around the plate, and drizzle with the agrumato olive oil. Season burrata with salt and pepper. 

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