Burrata, Aubergine & Roasted Tomatoes
I know I must seem a bit slow in jumping onto the burrata bandwagon. It’s been the foodies’ darling for a few years; has sat, pride of place, on many an Italian restaurant’s menu, but the fact is … it’s still hard to source. Well a good one. And in Twickenham. Despite our ‘Little Italy‘. When the lovely Italian deli, Sapori TW1, opened in Twickenham last year they stocked burrata. I bought some of their wonderful mozzarella but when I got round to going there to buy burrata, I was told there hadn’t been enough call for it and they no longer stocked it. However, I found it on Tinello‘s (one of my favourite London restaurants) menu, served with tomato bread, and it’s fabulous – an excellent burrata – and decided I must find somewhere to buy some myself.
I’ve tried a couple I’ve found in shops but not been impressed but when I saw some in Waitrose over the weekend, I decided it was worth giving theirs a try.
Antonio Carluccio describes burrata as ‘a heavenly cheese unique to Puglia’. It’s like a mozzarella but when you cut it open, you find a mix of ribbons of mozzarella and cream. It is totally decadent and absolutely gorgeous. With something this good, you don’t want to do anything fancy. You definitely don’t want to cook it! I decided to have it for supper tonight, and while I snack at lunchtime I like to prepare something a little more special for supper – even if it’s just me! Taking Tinello’s idea of tomato bread, I decided to slow roast some tomatoes. Then I thought I’d griddle an aubergine too. Tomato, mozzarella and aubergine is such a classic combination: think Melanzane alla Parmigiana – one of my very favourite dishes – so all those flavours were bound to combine well.
Waitrose was my stop again after coffee in Butter Beans this morning. Some gorgeous organic on-the-wine tomatoes and a nice plump, shiny aubergine. After that, I was distracted by work. Well, it is a necessity. By the time I thought to slow roast my tomatoes, there were only about 2 hours till suppertime. I prepared them and put them in the oven anyway, on a low (100 Fan) heat (Carluccio suggests 6-8 hours at this heat so I was being a bit optimistic – or stupid, depending on your take). I cut them in half, lay them in an ovenproof dish cut-side up, sprinkled over a little sea salt and some (home!) dried oregano.
Needless to say, as time went on and the tomatoes weren’t doing a lot if I was to eat at a reasonable time, I had to turn the oven up. But even so, the ‘slow’ 2 hours rather than a quick half hour was definitely worthwhile. The flavour was so intense, so wonderful. When they came out of the oven I drizzled over some extra virgin olive oil and decorated them with some basil leaves.
The aubergine I thickly sliced and brushed with oil and put onto a hot griddle, turning them until cooked through.
I strayed a bit from Italy for the bread: my bread of the moment is Paul’s campagne loaf, so a French bread. I cut 2 slices and toasted them, then drizzled over some olive oil.
I opened up the tub of burrata and cut it in half. The creamy centre just started oozing out … mmm! Delicious. Now it was just a case of assembling it all. I lay a couple of griddled aubergine slices on a plate. Then the toast onto which I carefully laid some of the still slightly warm tomatoes. Then half the burrata. I poured a little olive oil over the cheese, followed by a dusting of freshly grated black pepper. Supper was ready.
I love this kind of simple supper in the summer (even though summer today has been hidden behind the clouds). It’s light; it’s more a question of putting a few good ingredients together than serious cooking – and it’s wonderfully delicious. The burrata was good; the creamy filling just as I expected.
I’m sure I could source some truly wonderful and special burrata if I headed into central London, or travelled across London at the weekend to go to Borough or Maltby Street markets. But sometimes even this foodie thinks life is too short to wander too far for the ingredients for a simple supper – and actually the Waitrose one was good and I really enjoyed it.