Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Heirloom tomatoes with burrata, basil, and torn croutons

My first life changing tomato experience was the summer after college in Boston when a coworker brought in absolutely gorgeous tomatoes from the Haymarket. We met in the NBER kitchen and drizzled the tomatoes with good olive oil and a sprinkle of sea salt and placed the slices, overlapping a bit, onto a halved baguette rubbed with garlic. We layered the tomatoes with slices of fresh mozzarella sprinkled with sea salt and pepper, another drizzle of olive oil, and scattered basil leaves. It was so simple and yet one of the best things I'd ever tasted.

I didn't discover heirloom tomatoes until a few years later, when I lived in Chicago and became exposed to gorgeous, oddly shaped, and colorful heirlooms throughout the summer. I would order heirloom tomatoes whenever they appeared on the menu in the summer.

In San Francisco, juicy heirloom tomatoes are everywhere and often combined with my new obsession- burrata! I tasted burrata for the first time in Bologna, Italy at Drogheria della rosa, where I was greeted with complimentary glass of prosecco and a platter with a ball of cheese set in the center, sprinkled lightly with flaky sea salt and a grind of pepper. Folks, buffalo mozzarella has nothing on burrata; that soft creamy, almost milky burrata completely captivated me and left such an impression on me.

I can't think of much more that tastes as amazing so simply prepared. This preparation emphasizes the true essence of tomatoes. Muddled oregano, garlic, and sea salt are mixed with vinegars and whisked with olive oil and drizzled over the sliced tomatoes sprinkled with salt, tossed with shallots, basil and parsley, and layered with burrata and croutons. The burrata adds a deep essence and salty contrast to the sweet summer tomatoes. The fresh herbs- oregano, basil, and parsley- add an earthiness. The acidity of the vinegars and pungency of the garlic and shallot complement the sweetness of the tomatoes. Finally the croutons-- crunchy on the outside but a little soft and tender on the outside --add a delightful textural contrast to the dish.
Heirloom tomato salad with burrata, torn croutons and basil (Adapted from Suzanne Goin)
3 heirloom tomatoes (about 1.5 lbs)
1/2 tbsp fresh oregano
1/2 clove garlic
1/4 cup good olive oil
3/4 tbsp red wine vinegar
1/2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp flaky salt like Maldon
2 tbsp sliced basil
8 oz of fresh burrata
1/4 cup thinly sliced shallots
2 tbsp flat-leaf parsley leaves
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 or 3 slices of country white bread or sourdough

Preheat oven to 375. Tear brad into rustic 1" pieces. Toss with 2 tbsp olive oil and a sprinkling of salt, squeezing the bread gently to absorb the oil. Toast on a baking sheet 12 to 15 minutes, shaking the pan a few times, until golden brown and crispy on the outside and soft inside.

Using a mortar and pestle, pound the oregano, garlic and 1/4 tsp salt to a paste. Transfer to a bowl, stir in the red wine vinegar and the balsamic vinegar, whisk in the olive oil. Core the heirloom tomatoes. Cut half of the tomatoes into wedges and the remaining tomatoes into 1/4 inch slices.

Place the slices overlapping on a large platter, season with flaky salt and pepper. Spoon some of the vinaigrette over the slices and scatter a little basil on top. Cut the burrata into slices and tuck around the tomatoes.

In a large bowl, toss the tomato wedges with shallot, kosher salt, pepper, and the remaining vinaigrette. Taste for seasoning and just as needed. Gently toss in the croutons. Arrange on the wedges on top of the tomato slices and burrata. Scatter parsley and remaining basil on top.


  1. AnonymousJuly 20, 2011

    I wish it was easier to find fresh burrata in the US, it is delicious!!

  2. Dear Anonymous,
    Trader Joe's carries fresh burrata.


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