My favourite burrata recipe – Bursty Tomato Burrata Salad. Juicy roasted cherry tomatoes, creamy burrata cheese, dollops of pesto, swish of olive oil and crusty bread. Simple, luscious, rustic perfection. A gorgeous appetiser or light meal that’s not too expensive to make.
This is my favourite burrata recipe
Burrata seems to be all the rage these days, on the menu of just about every trendy restaurant. That strange looking wobbly white ball of cheese with a molten centre that oozes out when you cut into it, there is no other cheese like it. (Is there??)
The name burrata is linked to the Italian word for butter, which hints at the rich and creamy taste of burrata. With a cheese this good yet not that expensive to buy, you can make something really special with very little effort and modest cost.
For me, juicy, bursty roasted cherry tomatoes served warm with a plump burrata ball plonked on top and a side of warm bread is just about as good as food gets. It’s on the table in 15 minutes, costs around $15, and it’s always a hit. Always!
What is burrata?
Burrata is an Italian fresh cheese. It is essentially a ball of fresh mozzarella filled with cream. The outside shell is stretchy and curdy like mozzarella while the inside is soft and creamy, and oozes out when you cut into the ball. It’s rich and intensely milky in taste, yet somehow fresh and delicate at the same time. The flavour is actually pretty mild, like fresh mozzarella. It’s not salty or heavily flavoured like an aged brie or cheddar.
Originating from the Puglia region of Italy, it’s made from cow milk (sometimes buffalo milk) and is so delicate it comes in water in tubs.
Not to be confused with fresh mozzarella or bocconcini (also sold in water in tubs) which are not oozy inside.
How to eat burrata – Burrata is eaten as is ie. no cooking. To me, because of the mild flavour, burrata is more about what you serve with it rather than the cheese itself. You need to add flavour and salt, and treat burrata almost like cream that makes a sauce. You’d never just dump just cream on a pasta, right? Need to add salt and flavourings. Bacon! Chicken! Parmesan!
How it’s used in dishes – Plonked on pastas, salads and toasts, as well as served plain with just a drizzle of olive oil and grilled bread on the side. Think of it as an instant sauce!
Today’s recipe is a burrata salad – and it’s my favourite way to use burrata in a dish.
Note: Not all burrata is created equal!
Good burrata will have a creamy centre that oozes out when you cut into it and have a beautiful luscious mouthfeel. Lesser quality burrata will not ooze properly.
My go-to brand is Paesanella. It’s a local Australian brand fairly widely available these days here in Australian grocery stores and fresh produces stores. You can find even better ones at (good) Italian / cheese delis from artisan small batch producers.
Ingredients in Bursty Tomato Burrata Salad
Finishing with dollops of pesto takes this over the top. Taste wise – and also looks. Love how it turns the juices green!
But it’s still worth making even without. If basil is either extortionately expensive or a rummage in the freezer for leftover pesto is unsuccessful, I still make this though I do add something else to compensate, like dried herbs with the roasted tomatoes. I’ve popped some suggestions in the recipe card for pesto alternatives.
Burrata and (semi-optional) pesto
Burrata – See box above for information about burrata. No preparation is need to use it, just drain the liquid and use as is. However, just emphasising my recommendation to get a good one. If it doesn’t ooze, frankly, you may as well just get ricotta! My go-to brand is Paesanella which is available at some large grocery stores and fresh produce stores. Else, Italian / cheese delis.
Pesto – As noted above the photo, recommended for my favourite version of this dish but I still make it without. Use homemade pesto (freezes so great!) or a good store-bought.
Fresh basil – For sprinkling. As with with pesto comments, highly recommended but still worth making without.
The burst tomatoes and sauce
Here’s what you need for the sauce and burst tomatoes. Which, in case you hadn’t gathered yet, is just a cute name for roasted cherry tomatoes – because they go wrinkly and soft, ready to “burst” at a touch!
Cherry or grape tomatoes – 500g/1lb, about 4 cups in total, 2 standard Australian punnets. Because we are roasting them, they are delicious even when they are not in their summer prime. But imagine how good this dish is when cherry tomatoes are at their sweetest!
Eschalot (US: Shallot) – Also known as French onions and called “shallots” in the US. They are like baby onions, but with purple-skinned flesh. Not to be confused with what some people in Australia call “shallots”, ie. the long green onions. More delicate and not as sharp as ordinary onions so you don’t end up with giant lumps of onion with the tomatoes. Substitute with a garlic clove, finely minced white part of green onions, or finely shaved red onion.
Sherry vinegar – A little drizzle of vinegar to cut through all the olive oil and rich cheese really lifts this dish, I find. Use any clear(ish) vinegar that’s not as sharp as plain white vinegar. eg. like white wine vinegar, red wine or apple cider vinegar.
Standard olive oil – For roasting the tomatoes. No need to use your good stuff for cooking.
GOOD extra virgin olive oil – For drizzling over the dish at the end! This is what you use your good stuff for. Better flavour, richer colour!
How to make Bursty Tomato Burrata Salad
The tomatoes only take 10 minutes in the oven to become softened and a bit wrinkly but still holding their shape. The perfect state of almost-bursting (we want most of the actual bursting to happen in our mouth!).
Bake 10 minutes – Toss the tomatoes with olive oil, salt, pepper and the eshallots (US: shallots). Spread on a tray and bake for 10 minutes at 200°C/400°F (180°C fan) until the tomatoes are softened, some are wrinkly, but they are all still holding their shape and not collapsed into mush.
Vinegar – Gently push the tomatoes to one side of the tray (so they are bunched up together) and drizzle with the vinegar.
Transfer – Then gently transfer the tomatoes to a serving plate, in a single layer.
How to handle the burrata:
Now, burrata time! Nothing needs to be done to prepare it, we use it straight out of the tub.
GENTLY drain the liquid out of the burrata tub.
GENTLY roll the burrata out of the tub into your hand.
GENTLY place the burrata on top of the tomatoes.
Dollop pesto randomly across the tomatoes – I also do some on the burrata. Why not? 🙂
Do you see a theme in the instructions here? 😂 Burratas are delicate – the mozzarella shell is thin and barely holding in that molten creamy good inside. Fairy fingers are essential here to avoid a burrata explosion in your hands. Not fun, my friends! (Says the girl who did it just 2 days ago).
Finish with a swish of olive oil and sprinkle of fresh basil laves. Then serve your colourful bright burrata salad with a side of crusty bread!
Nominate a lucky person to break into the burrata to let the molten centre come oozing out. Let that creamy centre run everywhere, mingling with the tomato juices and the pesto…you’re imagining it, right???
Here’s your masterpiece before everyone gets stuck in. A glorious plate of rustic perfection!
And here it is, 5 seconds later.
Honestly, for a burrata plate this big which would easily serve 2 if not 3 people for lunch, I’d expect to pay upwards of $30 at a trendy bistro – plus bread which they’d probably charge another $10 for.
All the ingredients here cost me around $15, bearing in mind you only use about 1/4 of a full batch of pesto (it freezes perfectly).
Colourful, bright food that’s made for sharing, perfectly imperfect delicious mess. This is 100% my kind of food! – Nagi x
Watch how to make it
Bursty Tomato Burrata Salad
- 200g/ 6 oz x 1 fresh burrata cheese (Aus: Paesanella is my go-to, Note 1)
- 1/4 cup basil pesto , preferably homemade, recommended but not essential (Note 2)
- 500g/ 1 lb (4 cups) cherry or grape tomatoes
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tbsp eschalot , finely chopped (US: shallot), ~1/2 small (Note 3 subs)
- 1/2 tsp cooking/kosher salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 2 tsp sherry vinegar (or apple cider or red wine vinegar)
- 1/2 tsp salt flakes (or half the quantity for cooking/kosher salt) (Note 4)
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil , a good one is best, for finishing
- Few fresh basil leaves , for sprinkling (Note 2)
- Warmed crusty bread , for mopping
- De-chill – Take the burrata out of the fridge and leave on the counter for 30 minutes, to take the fridge-chill out of it. Keep it in the water in the tub.
- Preheat oven to 200°C/400°F (180°C fan).
- Roast 10 min – Toss the cherry tomatoes with the olive oil, eschalot, salt and pepper (in a bowl, or on a tray). Spread on a tray. Roast 10 minutes until softened but not collapsing.
- Vinegar – Gently push the tomatoes to one end of the tray. Drizzle over vinegar. No need to mix.
- Tomatoes – Carefully transfer tomatoes to a plate, spreading them out in a single layer.
- Burrata – Gently (GENTLY!!) drain the water out of the tub and roll the burrata out into your hand. Place a burrata on top of tomatoes.
- Finish – Drizzle the 1 tablespoon of good extra virgin olive oil all over the plate. Dollop pesto randomly all over. Sprinkle with salt flakes and basil.
- Serve with crusty bread on the side!
- Nominate a person to do the cutting honours. Break into the burrata with a serving spoon. Let the centre ooze out. Make sure you scoop up a bit of everything, pile onto bread and eat! Don't forget to mop the plate clean. The juices are the best part.
Life of Dozer
Overseeing the shooting of today’s recipe. He had useful suggestions for styling (they involved burrata and bread and his mouth).