spaghetti with burrata and other good things

June 26th, 2009 · 34 Comments

ok. this was good. as in very good. as in i won’t go all yoplait ad on you, but this was another definite do-over. and the sooner the better.

i take very little credit as this plate of pasta was nothing more than a blend of: the latest post from rachel eats‘ blog, along with the addition of some murray’s cheese mail-ordered burrata. i’ve since found out – and to my surprise, that trader joe’s carries "burrata", but my obvious thoughts on that were although it’d most likely do in a pinch, there’s no way it could be even close to the same quality as these delicate cream filled mozzarella balls made in italy on monday, and at my door on wednesday…

because you deserve a closer look…

it’s hot as hell in nashville. we’re on day 10 of 90+ degrees with the usual humidity issue, and well, cooking is only so appealing. the ovens are off limits but i will boil a pot of water and saute some onions – and happily.

but here’s what i won’t do. although i preach high quality ingredients and authentic preparation, here’s another ceF ruling to go along with the whole ”i don’t do pastry crusts" thing. so now you can just go on ahead and add to that – "i don’t slip the skins off tomatoes". because honestly, it just seems SILLY. yet despite this blatant admission, i still struggle with the fact (if only ever so slightly) that this conscious oversight would be sneered upon by better cooks than me. i mean the italian nonas do things for GOOD REASON. but then i quickly rationalize the whole thing – i honestly don’t think it changes the experience. and i’m at peace with tomato skins – though i have succumbed to certain other kitchen practices such as always trussing my chickens.

adding to the list of ‘do’s’, i also have claimed the red onion as my personal onion of choice for nearly all cooking purposes. i just like them better. and they look beautiful on my counter.

an important component of this dish is that you barely cook the tomatoes. for the record, mine were not home grown, as those are not quite yet available in nashville, but joyously coming soon. still, what i’d picked up at TJ’s were juicy and tomatoey. i used a fair amount of chopped basil from my herb pots, adding it the same time i added the chopped tomatoes to my pan of slowly sauteed onions, thinly sliced into half moons. you salt, you pepper and you’re done in 15 minutes. if that.

and then i strayed away from the recipe because I AM A REBEL and cut a creamy burrata ball in half and plopped it on top along with some more fresh basil. it’s a perfect dish. it just is. even with the aforementioned skins still thinly present…

but by far, the best part of dinner was the company. we had new friends over – emily and kevin. they brought extra tomatoes (in case), bread (i had none), wine (2 bottles of pino grigio) and a glazed lemon almond poppyseed cake that was quite good and tangy. and while we all sat there happily digging in to our respective slices, emily took her first bite and i watched as she sat there wrestling the flavors and consistency in her brain, thinking out loud about all of the things she perhaps could have done for it to have been better – and how she could improve upon it the next time.

and i thought to myself, i’m going to love this chick…

update  – with 3 reports now in on trader joe’s burrata, i am strongly recommending that you stay far away. my good friend heidi robb who i trust implicitly says, "Take a big hearty PASS. Their Mandara buffalo mozzarella is more burrata like than this insipid stuff."

Tags: baking · beans · cheese · dessert · fish · pasta · tomatoes · travel

34 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Donald // Jun 26, 2009 at 4:43 pm

    I want that now!

    Maybe some bacon?

  • 2 Pete O // Jun 26, 2009 at 4:43 pm

    What’s the carbon footprint of your burrata?

  • 3 claudia // Jun 26, 2009 at 4:52 pm

    donald – not necessary. at all. hard to believe, but true.

    pete o – in answer to your question, i really don’t care. this is a once in a while specialty item. oh – and my car is german and only gets maybe 19mpg around town.. and i mail order a lot of my meat too. so the guilt you attempt to lay on me? not effective.

  • 4 Emily Walters // Jun 26, 2009 at 7:34 pm

    Oh the picture, just divine! That meal was SO delicious, absolutely flawless.

    Kevin and I read this together and just laughed so I will let you in on the joke.

    To set the record straight…that pensive look…well that was me trying to figure out how something so simple could be so perfectly delicious and pretty much just having an epiphany about my own tedious tendencies, little bowls of mise en place, and ostensible order in my own kitchen. Fuck that, this is how you cook. Soulful. Confident. With the table not set and not really giving a damn. But then all of sudden I panic while I am watching you at your stove, pull the Negroni from my lips and say “Oh no, I am burning the bread” and you say “Oh it’s ok, I turned it off” I left off Competent. And I thought to myself, I love this chick and I have A LOT to learn.

    Oh and you sure have a keen palate too because you asked me if I used anything besides the ground almonds in the cake because the almond flavor was very intense and I said no. Then I remembered today I put a little bit of Amaretto in the glaze on a whim. I lied and you busted me.

  • 5 Diana // Jun 26, 2009 at 7:35 pm

    claudia, re pete: 100% on target as usual.

  • 6 Robert // Jun 26, 2009 at 8:02 pm


    WWGD? How times change.

    In the day, admission of leaving the skins unslipped would have garnered scathing gossip amongst the old girls. Now it is worn openly for all the world.

    Grandma might just say “You go girl”

  • 7 ceeelcee // Jun 26, 2009 at 8:11 pm

    At the risk of demeaning all the other food porn you have treated us all to in the past couple years, this is the most revealing and entertaining post yet on CEF.

    I truly loved it. Thanks for sharing the inside look. You rock!

  • 8 Foodie at Fifteen // Jun 26, 2009 at 8:43 pm

    you and that pasta!

    the company makes the dinner

  • 9 Kristie // Jun 26, 2009 at 11:04 pm

    I’m so happy you have fun new friends. Isn’t that the best? I went to a party tonight and, per usual, got along raucously with the boys and could find no way to communicate with any of the girls. I’m like a wife-mute. Maybe burrata is the key. Maybe I’d be all like “Hey! I’m loud and I like to chug beer and I make your husband laugh at jokes about video games and sperm, but I’m here WITH my own husband, who is also laughing, and here’s some delectable melty cheese inside of chewy cheese!! See? I’m not a she-demon. I’m a cheese-bringer.”

    Clearly, I’m jealous.

    Anyway, burrata made in Italy and delivered two days later is quite good, but have you tried it when it’s only minutes old? I mean, shit.

  • 10 goodfoodmatters // Jun 27, 2009 at 5:52 am

    ah, I sense burrata in my future…
    blessed are the cheesemakers

  • 11 Emily Walters // Jun 27, 2009 at 7:21 am

    I see the clarity and that’s for sure because that pasta was perfect in every way, I think we were in agreement on that. The cake, well that needed some work. Like I said, I’m a custard girl.

  • 12 rachel // Jun 27, 2009 at 9:26 am

    I love that you said ‘I’m making this for supper’ and then you did. Well almost the burrata (drum roll, gasp, swoon)turns it into quite somethingelse – and a quite delicious looking somethingelse at that
    pint grigio perfect, good company even better even though you didn’t slip them off
    I might make this for supper x

  • 13 Choosy Beggar Tina // Jun 27, 2009 at 9:38 am

    Burrata makes me weak. Because of the short shelf life, it’s so difficult to find (and yet SO WORTH IT WHEN YOU DO) that I think mail-order is a great idea. Oh, except that I’m never home so the poor burrata would actually be languishing at the FedEx warehouse for days or weeks on end, which crimps my plan. Danggit.

  • 14 Chefectomy // Jun 27, 2009 at 9:42 am

    It’s perfect C. If you come to SF I’ll take you to Beretta…


  • 15 becky and the beanstock // Jun 27, 2009 at 9:56 am

    Oh, burrata. That’s a perfect meal in and of itself. One of our local wine stores gets it in twice a year — made in Italy on Monday, delivered by Wednesday. Had it for the first time two years ago with fresh garden tomatoes and haven’t stopped thinking about it since. Our Whole Foods carries it sometimes too but it’s just not the same. Anyway, lovely post, enviable meal, and good to hear from you!

  • 16 Jennifer Hess // Jun 27, 2009 at 1:04 pm

    1. I also prefer red onions.
    2. I like tomato skins.
    3. Burrata is one of the damn sexiest things you can put in your mouth.
    4. I want this now.
    5. I miss you.

  • 17 maybelles mom // Jun 27, 2009 at 2:56 pm

    completely with you on red onions and tomato skins–my mother had made those decisions long before me. Her sister still fusses with different onions for different things and tomato skins.

  • 18 rebekka // Jun 27, 2009 at 4:30 pm

    You can mail-order burrata?

    The quality of my life just improved drastically.

  • 19 cookiecrumb // Jun 27, 2009 at 6:51 pm

    Is Pete O a troll?
    Anyway, my last burrata was all full of tubes and wires. Like that Thomas Dolby song.
    Still. Pretty.

  • 20 Barry // Jun 27, 2009 at 7:29 pm

    This looks and sounds delicious. I’m going to have to try it.

    I actually LIKE the tomato skin. And, I completely agree, although I’ve never said it aloud, it IS silly to peel them. If I’m not canning them, I’m not skinning them.

  • 21 Pam // Jun 27, 2009 at 7:46 pm

    I don’t peel the tomatoes either. But then they usually separate anyway as I cook them up.

  • 22 democommie // Jun 27, 2009 at 8:42 pm


    Reading your posts is like reading Shakespeare, I love it, but I gotta keep looking stuff up!

    Sooooo, I looked up “burrata”…OMFG, that sounds like a cow’s milk orgazummmmmmmmm!

    There’s a lady in the North End of Boston who makes fresh Mooz, but I never even heard of this stuff.

    Now, as for the tomato(e)s. So, okay the little nona’s in their black dresses would peel the tomatoes; but they did it for nutritional reasons. There wasn’t enough protein and fat in their diets, so they didn’t want the roughage to, you know, make the work go faster? Okay, so that’s not a problem anymore; in fact it’s the reverse. So what you’re doing, in not peeling the love apples is good, sound nutrition. Pretty good, huh? Total bullshit–but I don’t ever peel tomatoes and I never get any complaints. With enough wine you can eat unshelled walnuts.

    We’ve just had our first “heat wave” up here in North Redneckistan, NY. It’s been over 70 and sunny for three or four days in a row. Winter cannot be far off.

  • 23 democommie // Jun 27, 2009 at 8:45 pm

    I meant to put this in the above comment.

    Tony Bourdain was on “Sound Opinions” on NPR today. Here’s a link:

    What’s not to like?

  • 24 Marie // Jun 27, 2009 at 9:10 pm

    The first time I ate burrata I almost cried it was so good! I get mine from Whole Foods, they carry it a few times a year imported from Italy. Don’t bother with TJ’s, no comparrison at all!

  • 25 Melissa // Jun 28, 2009 at 3:45 pm

    Sounds like a new friend for sure.

    I was very tempted to make this dish. I think I would likely plop some burrata on it as well. Mmm. Never tried the one at TJs, but I’d agree with Marie regardless. No way could it quite be the same. Not bad, but…

    I was just having that onion conversation with someone recently. I use red onion over any other these days. I just like the taste more.

  • 26 Michelle @ Find Your Balance // Jun 29, 2009 at 3:23 pm

    Ahh I hate those Yoplait ads!!! haha

  • 27 Brooke // Jun 29, 2009 at 5:50 pm

    I’ve never tried burrata, and it makes me so sad. Those pictures look lovely, I want some now.

    I always leave the tomato skins on too. I’m not anal enough to care.

  • 28 ErikaK // Jun 29, 2009 at 10:23 pm

    I leave the skins on too… but my Grandma recipes all use canned/crushed anyhow, so they’ll never know.

  • 29 Heidi Robb // Jul 2, 2009 at 5:13 am

    Attention TJ’s mozzarella police: I LOVE, I repeat, LOVE the Mandara mozzarella.

    Your burrata is not.

  • 30 Kim // Jul 3, 2009 at 5:17 am

    You and your pasta! I don’t do tomato skins either, never thought it was worth the trouble. But, I do make my own pastry crusts, and it is worth it. I see your cakes and know you can tackle pastry crust anytime you decide to take the challenge.

  • 31 SpinachTiger // Sep 23, 2009 at 4:33 pm

    Most often I do NOT take skins off tomatoes. I agree about the silliness. Skins don’t bother me, and I get lazy and have no desire to blanch. However, if I’m following a Marcella recipe I take off skin. I always think she might be watching me because I feature her on my blog a lot.

  • 32 Jeff // Apr 24, 2010 at 7:00 pm

    Attention TJ’s mozzarella police: I LOVE, I repeat, LOVE the Mandara mozzarella.

    Your burrata is not.

  • 33 Sean // Apr 26, 2010 at 6:03 pm

    you and that pasta!

    the company makes the dinner

  • 34 Shannon // Sep 11, 2010 at 10:18 pm

    Where did you get that fantastic pasta bowl? I love plates with lips. They are the perfect invention – better than the spork. 😉

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