Kitchn Love Letters

This Easy Summer Meal Combines All My Favorite Things: Tomatoes, Pesto, and Lots of Burrata

published Jul 9, 2021
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Credit: Katie Workman

I remember clearly the first time I made this dish. My assistant and I were pounding away on our computers, and I placed the platter of still-warm roasted tomatoes, creamy burrata cheese, and homemade basil oil in between us with hunks of crusty bread. In about one blissful hour, we were sopping up the last of the basil-infused tomato juices, not even pretending to be dignified about it. It was one of the best and most memorable lunches I’ve ever had.

The truth is, there isn’t all that much credit I can take. I am far from the first person to realize that tomatoes and basil make excellent bedfellows. I am hardly the only one to recognize the magical promise of burrata cheese. I did not invent pesto. But once you make this dish you’ll understand that ego or inventor pride isn’t the point; not even slightly. I merely connected the tomato-mozzarella-basil dots in a particular way that have brought me and mine more pleasure than I can say.  

Credit: Katie Workman

The 3 Components of This Memorable Summer Meal

This dish is a simple combination of shiny summer staples. First, cherry tomatoes are roasted just until they collapse a bit and release their perfume-y juices. If you can find them on the stem and leave them that way in the oven, it will bring a whole other level of sexiness to this dish, but handfuls of loose cherry or grape tomatoes will taste just as terrific. They caramelize as they roast, which brings out even more of their natural sweetness.

Burrata is a semisoft white Italian cheese made from mozzarella and cream. Imagine the softest, creamiest fresh mozzarella you’ve ever had, but the inside is filled with a buttery cream that runs out when you cut it open. If you’ve had burrata, you are almost certainly a devotee, and if you have not yet met up with a cushion-y, sultry ball of this cheese, do your best to change that this week. It’s available at cheese shops and well-stocked supermarkets. If you can’t find it, get fresh mozzarella instead, but don’t give up the search.

The basil oil is essentially a loose pesto or pistou, without the Parmesan or pecorino. It’s nut-free, and you can make it ahead of time and store it in a covered container in the fridge for up to three days. Don’t feel like making it? No worries. Buy some good pesto (the better the pesto, the better the dish) and stir in a couple tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil to loosen it up.

I like to garnish the platter with fresh sprigs of basil and serve some crusty bread with olive oil to sop it all up. Then, I serve it as an appetizer (the only appetizer, because I don’t want the other appetizers feeling bad about themselves!).

At Kitchn, our editors develop and debut brand-new recipes on the site every single week. But at home, we also have our own tried-and-true dishes that we make over and over again — because quite simply? We love them. Kitchn Love Letters is a series that shares our favorite, over-and-over recipes.