Yes, I’m still dreaming of and talking about Italy. I’m not sure I will ever stop.
Can you blame me when it looks like this?
And you eat things like this?
You know what I love about this picture? It’s messy. It’s like the chefs know their ingredients are great: that rested dough, those slices of home-made pepperoni, that cheese that was probably made in their village and nobody else’s cheese is the same; so great that they don’t really care about presenting it perfectly. I love how the pepperoni and the basil look like they were tossed over someone’s shoulder. Not something you would see too much of around my parts.
But in Italy, they know they’ve got the good stuff. So here, enjoy, maybe it’s not organized, but it’s good and you’ll thank me later.
I did. And I will for years to come.
I’m pretty much out of my vacation eating schedule. Since I’m not walking for hours a day on end, I’ve realized that I can’t eat like I did when I was walking that much. And don’t tell anyone, but I have yet to get back to the gym. Ug, why is starting always the hardest part?
Monday, I promise.
Needless to say, I was beyond thrilled when I discovered on my return to Mexico that Costco now sells Burrata cheese. I thought I would NEVER eat it again (again, slight drama), and yet here it is, shining like a beacon of light from the Costco refrigerated section. I actually found some buffalo mozzarella in town, which my husband and children prefer, but two balls of the buffalo mozzarella are the same price as four of the burrata ….. sooooo problem solved in my books.
There really isn’t too much to this recipe, to be honest. We ate like this a lot when we stayed with our friends near the coast and when in Florence: beautiful cheese, fresh bread, juicy tomatoes. For this dish, I actually braised the tomatoes in a little butter and olive oil instead of just leaving them, and then let them cool a little bit. I kind of like the soft, cracked tomatoes that also slightly melt my burrata.
Below I will list exactly what I did for the photographed dish, but of course you can adjust it to however many people you are serving.
I wish I had made foccacia, but I was too excited about the burrata and so instead just grilled up some bread and pita I had lying around. If you want to be more authentically Italian, break out some crusty bread or foccacia. I will for sure next time. I’ve got a great recipe for foccacia here.
I learned a little something about pesto on our recent trip. A few Italians told me that a few of the jarred brands they can buy are just as good as anything that you can make. I asked if there were any tips as to which brands were better. I was told that since pesto originated in Genoa, if a jar says ‘pesto alla genovese’, it’s almost always better than brands that don’t mention it. Some of the brands I tried in Italy didn’t even have garlic in it, and you couldn’t even tell.
I usually make my own pesto, but of course, not always. When I returned to Mexico, I tried two different brands: one that mentioned Genoa and one that didn’t. The Italians were right: the one mentioning Genoa was better. Yay for food tips!
On a hot summer day, this will only take a few minutes on the stove-top, and a few minutes for the bread on the grill. Drizzle some balsamic over it if you want, the Italians always have oil and vinegar on their tables for a reason.
Have you ever had good quality olive oil? I will have to say I had not enjoyed any earth shattering olive oil until this trip. My friend in Florence provided me a parting gift this time of olive oil that was obviously made by someone and not a factory. I asked where it came from and she said ‘Oh, just that man over that (Tuscan) hill’. The statement actually made me angry. I WANT TO ALWAYS HAVE OLIVE OIL FROM THE MAN OVER THE HILL! Arg. I brought some home and we ONLY use it for drizzling on our food and bread. We shared it with some friends recently and I would go as far to say that the husband made googly eyes at it as he declared it the best olive oil he’s ever had.
I’ll be back.
BRAISED TOMATOES & BURRATA
- 4 balls burrata cheese
- 2 pints cherry tomatoes, multi-colored if you have them
- 1/4 cup butter
- 2 TABS good quality olive oil
- pesto, home-made or good quality
- foccacia cut in strips OR crusty bread cut into slices
In a large saucepan, melt butter and oil together over medium heat. Add tomatoes and increase heat to medium high. Let tomatoes crack and simmer, about ten minutes. Press down on some of the tomatoes to flatten if you desire. Turn off heat.
If using foccacia, slice into strips. If using crusty bread, cut into slices, brush each side with olive oil, and grill for a few minutes each side until toasted.
Arrange burrata, tomatoes, and bread on a large platter. Spoon some pesto on top of the burrata. Serve with good quality olive oil and balsamic vinegar.