This perfect summer starter combines crispy white bread with a lemony aromatic tomato salsa and creamy burrata cheese. It does not matter if you prepare a little more bread: in my experience, the serving platter becomes empty even before it is placed on the table!
Burrata, as white as snow
If you simply look at mozzarella and burrata, they do appear very similar. But the taste, as well as the consistency of Italian buffalo and cow’s milk cheese are different. The harsh winter of 1956 brought burrata to Italy: because of heavy snowfall in the Apulia mountains, cheese master Lorenzo Bianchini was not able to transport his stracciatella, a soft cheese with a high percentage of sweet cream. In order to stabilize the cheese for delivery on foot, he had to come up with something. The manteche, a provolone (a semi-hard cow’s milk cheese) with a heart of butter, crossed his mind. Bianchini copied this idea and wrapped a sturdy skin of mozzarella around his stracciatella. Ecco la Burrata!
The cheese with heart
Apart from being a wonderful story, it is a clever trick to “hide” butter or cream in a cheese. Before, when not everyone had a fridge, butter and cheese would last much longer with this technique. In Apulia, burrata is often wrapped in leaves of asphodel (a lily plant). They protect the cheese and give it a distinctive taste. These leaves can also be seen as a sign of freshness: once they start to change colour, this means that the cheese is overripe. But you can easily check the quality even without asphodel leaves. The heart of the burrata has to be so soft that it oozes out onto the plate once cut open. The burrata should taste almost sweet. As soon as it is too old, it becomes rancid. The cream cheese is eaten at room temperature, in Italy, preferably on toasted bread with a little olive oil.
Tomato salsa and burrata on toasted bread
- 200 g cherry tomatoes
- 1-2 lemons, or limes - organic
- some olive oil
- black pepper, from the mill
- 4 slices white bread, approx. 300 g
- 1 clove garlic
- ¼ tsp cumin seed
- 1 tsp capers, if desired
- 10 g tarragon
- 10 g wild fennel, alternatively dill
- 1 burrata, approx. 200 g
- Quarter the tomatoes. Mix the tomatoes and capers, then marinate with oil, lemon juice and the grated lemon peel. Season with some pepper.
- Briefly roast the cumin seeds in a coated pan without fat until you can really smell them and then crush in a mortar. Wash and dry the wild fennel (dill) and tarragon. Chop the fresh herbs rather coarsely, only use the leaves from the tarragon. Cut the burrata. Halve the garlic cove and remove the inner stem.
- Now toast the slices of bread - rub one side of each piece with the cut surface of the garlic clove. Cover the bread slices with tomato salsa and burrata. Season with cumin and herbs. Sprinkle some pepper and add a little salt according to taste, drizzle with olive oil. Serve warm immediately.