I don’t know about you, but I’m always looking for a creative and delicious appetizer to serve guests. I was recently at a dinner where the first course was burrata cheese garnished with edible flowers and crispy rice. (If you’re not familiar with burrata, it’s the heavenly, creamy, buttery soft combo of mozzarella and cream that is packaged inside a ball of firm mozzarella cheese.) The dish was delicious, and inspired me to think about ways to improve on the dish. This recipe is the outcome, and was exactly what I was hoping for.
I served the dish as part of an Italian menu for my husband and four guests. This was our menu:
Ricotta fritters with Smoked Maple Syrup and Sea Salt
Burrata with Tomatoes, Edible Flowers and Crispy Quinoa
Half Moon Pasta with Red Hawk Cheese Filling, Wild Mushrooms,
Sherry and Parmesan
Caesar Salad with Fresh Croutons
Shortbread with White Peaches, Tarragon and Cream
The pasta recipe is from the fabulous Flour + Water cookbook, and is not too difficult to make, so give it a try!
Burrata Salad with Tomatoes, Edible Flowers & Crispy Quinoa
4 oz of burrata cheese per person
3 cherry tomatoes per person, halved (preferably in varying colors)
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil per person
1/4 tsp flaky sea salt per person, such as Maldon
a few strands of fresh basil that has been rolled and cut into thin ribbons (chiffonade)
a few edible flowers per person
a sprinkle of crispy quinoa (instructions below)
To make the crispy quinoa, simply cook the grains per the package instructions (I used red quinoa, cooking 1/2 cup in 1 cup of water for 15 minutes), and drain any remaining liquid. Spread on a baking sheet or plate and allow to cool and dry. Heat a skillet over medium high heat. When hot, add a bit of vegetable oil (I used 1 Tbsp for the amount of quinoa I used), and when hot, add the quinoa. Stir frequently to avoid burning. After about 5 minutes, you should start to see the color of the grains darken, and they will dance a bit in the skillet. Keep cooking until you smell the quinoa toasting, then remove a small amount and taste for crispness. When done, remove immediately to a plate or paper towel to let cool.
To assemble the salad, gently lace the burrata cheese in the middle of a plate. Drizzle with the olive oil, then sprinkle with the salt. Artfully place the tomatoes around and on the cheese, then top with the basil strands. Finally, sprinkle the whole plate with a bit of the crispy quinoa, and you have it!
A few notes on variations…You can pretty much use any grain in the same manner as the quinoa. You might drizzle a bit of balsamic vinegar over the olive oil. And certainly you can use different herbs as a replacement for the basil if you like. I’d love to hear about your variations.