personal essay

Things Are Hard. Put Burrata on Everything.

updated Feb 24, 2021
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Burrata on top of a bowl of pasta
Credit: Joe Lingeman; Food Stylist: CC Buckley

Grocery shopping in a pandemic reminds me of heist scenes in movies: Strap on your gear (in this case, a mask), move furtively around the store, avoid other people, grab your goods, and get out while you can. There’s no time to leisurely stroll down the aisles and let your imagination wander while you hold exciting ingredients in your hands.

But on a recent trip to the store to grab the usual yogurt and lunch meat, a tub of burrata caught my eye and I wavered in my stealthiness as I recalled all the fancy restaurant meals I’ve had that started with this incredible cheese. Dining out in a pre-pandemic world feels like a lifetime ago, and while it might be a while before we recapture that magic, I thought that burrata could help me split the difference. I threw the tub in my cart.

For the uninitiated, burrata might just look like mozzarella. What it actually is, though, is a mozzarella pouch that contains a mixture of cream and curds. Cut into the springy mozzarella shell and a molten interior is revealed. It’s a beautiful juxtaposition of textures, and its mild palate makes burrata surprisingly versatile. Burrata’s flavor profile is similarly contrasted with an exterior that tastes salty while the inside is rich and milky. 

Despite loving burrata, I had never considered buying it to enjoy at home before that day in the grocery store. For starters, it’s not exactly cheap. But even though the tub at the grocery store was a splurge at $8 for about 4 medium-sized balls of burrata, I have zero regrets because of how much use and joy I got out of it throughout the week.

Credit: Lia Picard

In the morning, I followed the advice of Atlanta-based chef Ron Eyester and folded burrata into soft scrambled eggs. Then I spread the eggs out on toasted sourdough and garnished them with a drizzle of olive oil, bread crumbs, and red chili flakes. Breakfast was suddenly special in a way that it hadn’t been for months The scrambled eggs were fluffier and richer without being too heavy. The burrata’s interior mostly melds with the eggs, but I still got salty flecks from the mozzarella.

For lunch, I might prepare a salad of sliced peaches, tomatoes, and red onion, tossed with toasted pecans, and a champagne vinaigrette. Then I’ll mix in shredded burrata — ripping into the burrata is satisfying — which brings the salad together. You could easily make the same salad with a tangy feta, but I liked the mellow burrata with the sweet-tart ingredients. 

For dinner, all I need is a simple dish of pasta in tomato sauce topped with a blob of room-temperature burrata. Or I’ll use it to spruce up a frozen pizza.

My absolute favorite way to use burrata, however, is by grilling (or broiling) halved peaches with a little bit of olive oil. I’ll put some burrata into the halved peaches and drizzle them with balsamic vinegar and a pinch of coarse sea salt. It’s a delicious fusion of cold-meets-hot and the sweet peaches and creamy burrata go together perfectly. 

The timing of this luxury purchase couldn’t be better. Restaurants in my state, Georgia, began reopening at the end of April and since then restrictions have continued to loosen. Even though COVID-19 cases are climbing, it can be hard for a food enthusiast to resist the siren calls of restaurants. Instead, the days run together in a steady blur of chasing a toddler, working around said toddler’s sleep schedule, chore negotiations with my husband, and the occasional excitement of takeout. While I have ventured to a few restaurant patios, having a special ingredient like burrata has made it easier to stay home. 

Because it is such an indulgence, burrata isn’t a weekly purchase. But when the longing for the Before Times gets too strong, I’ll make a burrata appetizer on the weekends. For a moment, it’s like dining in a restaurant again.