I guess you might say tonight’s supper was a last-ditch attempt to grab a bit of summer. Well the sun has actually been shining today and the temperature was even quite warm. But the real reason I made this dish was because I couldn’t resist buying some burrata I saw on the cold shelves in Waitrose at the weekend and it needed eating up before tomorrow. My original idea had been to reproduce the lovely grilled courgette, mozzarella and hazelnut salad at had Joe Allen last month.
I’d enjoyed it so much I thought at the time I’d try it out at home. But then I thought of the wonderful grilled vegetable and mozzarella salad I often have at Corto Deli. And that’s when I decided to grill a few more vegetables, not just courgettes. I thought I’d stay with the hazelnut theme though, so made my pesto with those instead of the more traditional pine nuts. But the classic version would work just as well (click here).
Burrata has gained popularity over recent years and it’s not hard to understand why. It is a kind of buffalo mozzarella but filled inside with pulled bits of the cheese mixed with cream. It comes from Puglia and arose out of cheesemakers finding a way to use up odd bits of cheese. At its best, it is absolutely gorgeous; rich and creamy. But if you can’t get hold of any then mozzarella – a good buffalo kind – would work just as well.
Grilled Vegetables with Burrata & Hazelnut Pesto
- 1 burrata (or buffalo mozzarella)
- a selection of vegetables to grill: aubergine, courgette, peppers, red onion, fennel, large tomatoes
- 30g hazelnuts
- 1 small clove garlic
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- 10g basil leaves
- 100ml olive oil
- 2 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan
Dry roast the hazelnuts in a small pan. If they haven’t been skinned, once they’re hot and starting to colour remove to a piece of kitchen town and rub to remove as much skin off as you can. If they are already skinned, then dry roast until they just start browning. Hold back about 10g for garnish and put the rest into a mortar and pestle with the garlic and sea salt. Pound until you have a paste. Now add the basil leaves, a few at a time, and pound until the leaves break down into the paste and you have a greenish mix. Then slowly mix in the olive oil.
Next mix in the Parmesan. You can check the seasoning but it’s unlikely you’ll need more salt as there’s some already and the Parmesan also brings some saltiness. If you want the pesto a bit thinner, then add more olive oil.
Transfer the pesto to a bowl and keep until needed.
The vegetables can be prepared a little in advance though I cooked mine close to when I wanted to eat. I chose the selection given in the list of ingredients above but you don’t need all of them, and you can put in others if you like.
I didn’t use all of the vegetables but cut slices from them, fairly thickly. I did use a whole courgette, which was fairly small anyway, and large tomato.
Pour some olive oil into a small bowl and then use a pastry brush to brush oil over the slices. Do one side first to go oil-side down onto a hot griddle, then paint the other side as the first cooks.
Get your griddle nice and hot then start cooking the vegetables. I did mine in two batches. The order doesn’t matter too much except it’s best to leave the tomato to last as it makes a bit of a mess.
Transfer them straight to a serving plate and arrange prettily – yes, it does make a difference! I’ve got some lovely Italian plates which are perfect for this. Then put the burrata in the middle.
Now make a cross in the top of the burrata and gently pull it slightly apart. You’ll see a gorgeous creamy delight in the middle! Now spoon some of the pesto (you’ll not need all of it) across the vegetables and burrata. Roughly chop the reserved hazelnuts and scatter on the top.
I was planning to eat this as a main course with some sourdough bread. It was more than enough so some will be saved for lunch tomorrow. But you can vary the quantities easily depending on how many you’re feeding. I think for a main you need at least one burrata between two (if not one each!), but it would make a great starter for 4 with 1-2 burratas. As for the leftover pesto, that will keep well in the fridge in a jar or covered container for a week. There are lots of things to do with it – you’ll find quite a few ideas on the blog if you search ‘pesto’ – but the simplest of all is to serve it with pasta.