Fresh Burrata with Peaches, Basil and Black Pepper

Burrata sounds like the bastard child of a Mexican tortilla and a Korean fungus, which couldn’t be further from the truth.

This artisan cheese is, excusez-moi, a beefed-up cousin of buffalo mozzarella.

Cheese is rarely on my radar, but this burrata lark is rather special. It was born out of good Catholic frugality in Puglia at least one hundred years ago when the Italians had to figure out what to do with the delicious scraps of leftover buffalo mozzarella.

 

burrata 

 

During the process of burrata-making, the cheese is stretched into a cute pouch which is then filled with scraps of leftover buffalo mozzarella and topped off with thick, unpasteurised fresh cream before closing. It ends up looking like regular mozzarella, but the treasure inside is decidedly creamier and sweeter. London restaurants like Nopi and The Modern Pantry ­– steaming with glamour – have become places of pilgrimage for this special cheese.

Italy has always been the country where food trends understandably begin. My husband’s belly is the little town where these same trends come and retire. Me? I gravitate towards Californian cuisine and superfood crazies, like iron filings to a magnet. So, to pacify both egos, I’ve added multicoloured heirloom tomatoes to this dish. But cherry toms will do just fine.

 

 burrata peaches

 

Fresh Burrata with Peaches, Basil and Black Pepper

Serves 4

Peaches might sound like a creepy addition to a salad, but their sweetness brings the mozzarella experience up an octave. And did you know that freshly cracked black pepper has proven anti-angiogenic capabilities? (That’s Doctor Code for anti-cancer).

Angiogenesis is the name given to the natural process of blood vessels growing in the body. Researchers have examined foods that actually help slow down this process. Why would you want to do this? To starve a tumour of it’s blood supply and it’s liefeline. Er, it’s science, innit? For more on this, I recommend visiting Dr William Li’s resource www.EatToBeat.org

Toonsbridge in West Cork are making their own mozzarella from their handsome herd of water buffalo. Sample some at Sheridan’s cheese mongers in Dublin’s city centre or the covered market in Cork. Lots of farmer’s markets now stock it. Just follow the excited queue!

 

2 peaches

Handful of fresh basil leaves

1 red onion (optional)

300g various coloured heirloom tomatoes

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses or lime

A few turns of the black pepper mill

250g burrata or buffalo milk mozzarella or this tofu

 

Start by cutting each peach in half. Discard the stone, and slice each half into wedges. Tumble into a large bowl with the basil leaves.

If you like red onions, slice one whole and wafer-thin, then let it join the party.

Chop the tomatoes into slim wedges. Cherry tomatoes are easier to serve, as you will only need to slice these chaps in half before adding to the peaches. You might need to add some salt to the tomatoes if they have not fully ripened, so it’s definitely worth checking.

All that’s needed now is some serious gloss. Whisk the olive oil and pomegranate molasses or lime together in a cup with a fork. Pour over the summer salad and finish off with as much black pepper as your toes can handle. Gently coat everything, using your hands to turn the salad ingredients in the bowl once or twice. Divide evenly between four plates.

Roughly tear the burrata or mozzarella in bite sized chunks and parachute them over each salad. Tofu Rossi is a brilliant alternative to buffalo cheese.

Best to serve immediately, before the guests get too giddy.

 

 

 

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