Around the Island

Island eats: Blissful burrata

Before last summer, I thought that soft mozzarella and brie were as good as cheese got. But I was wrong — there’s burrata and it’s cheese heaven on earth.

I first stumbled across it at Country View Farms in Southold and thought it’d be similar to mozzarella, which it’s made from. So I also bought some pesto and a tomato and went home and prepped it like a caprese salad. It was delicious, and that’s how I prepared it over the last year. Then just a couple of months ago I decided to change things up and had a craving for spicy and sweet. I picked up a container of marcona almonds from Lombardi’s Market in Mattituck (which also sells burrata), sliced up the cheese, drizzled it with honey and sprinkled it with cayenne pepper, and ate it with the almonds on a sliced baguette. I didn’t think it was possible — but burrata had gotten even better. Although at first glance it looks like mozzarella, burrata is an entirely different cheese experience. So what sets them apart? 

According to thekitchn.com, burrata literally translates into “buttered” and it’s made from mozzarella and cream — it’s mozzarella that’s formed into a pouch and then filled with soft, stringy curd and cream. Burrata is typically served at room temperature, and since it’s fresh, it’s best served within 48 hours of purchase. After that it’s considered past its prime (even though it’s still perfectly edible).

Marcona almonds, aka the “Queen of Almonds,” are imported from Spain. They are shorter, rounder, softer, and sweeter than the California variety. These blanched Marcona almonds are roasted in olive oil and then sprinkled with sea salt, offering a delicious taste. Only a small number of the world’s almonds come from Spain, but Spanish almonds are known for their unique profiles and excellent, natural cultivation processes. European regulations do not require almonds to be pasteurized, so the almonds of all varieties maintain a more natural texture and flavor.

You can pair burrata with just about anything you’d normally combine with cheese — crackers, bread, fruit, pesto — you get the idea. But right now this spicy and sweet burrata dish is my favorite way, and everyone I’ve shared it with has loved it too. 

Ingredients:

1 container of burrata

Cayenne pepper

Marcona almonds 

Honey

Berries, crackers or other fruit

Preparation:

1. Drain the burrata. I gently pat it with a paper towel to remove excess water. 

2. Slice it up on the dish it’ll be served on. The inside will spill out quickly so it can’t be moved to another plate. 

3. Drizzle honey and sprinkle cayenne pepper over it. 

4. Add almonds to the plate. 

5. Slice up any other fruit or bread.

6. Enjoy!

Chef’s note: For aesthetic purposes, slice the burrata as close to serving time as possible. If it sits for a while water will separate from the cheese. It’ll still taste delicious and you can drain it or not, but it looks nicer without the water.