This beautiful blueberry salad literally screams SUMMER. But it must be made with local, juicy, ripe blueberries and crisp baby greens for optimal deliciousness.
This past weekend, for instance, I enjoyed a marvelous salad of creamy burrata, grilled asparagus, cucumber, and romaine at Dundee Bistro in the heart of Oregon Wine country. The earthiness of the asparagus, the piquancy of the dressing, and the lush richness of the burrata were perfect complements to each other.
So what is burrata exactly? Imagine a thin, stretched skin of cow’s milk or buffalo’s milk mozzarella encasing a lush filling of creamy, shaggy mozzarella shreds and cream. (These shreds are called stracciatella and are also sold on their own without the casing).
Burrata is a pasta filata cheese, a softer twin of mozzarella in which one portion of the cheese is stretched while another portion is separated, broken up, mixed with heavy cream, and then used as the filling for a sort of “purse” made with the stretched portion of the cheese. The softness of this cheese comes from the curd filling.
Interestingly, burrata was largely unknown in the United States until an Apulian immigrant named Vito Girardi started making it in the early 90’s at Gioia Cheese in South El Monte, California. So it’s actually an Italian-American creation.
It used to be difficult to find fresh burrata in local markets, but not today. Look for it at Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, or City Market and Zupan’s in Portland. Do check the expiration date however. This fresh cheese is best eaten within 48 hours of being made.
Check out 30 Minute Burrata with Suzanne McMinn to make your own burrata.
For a comparison of four easily available brands, check out A Taste of Burratas in Portland Press Herald’s article, Creamy, Raggy Burrata’s The Bee’s Knees In World Of Cheese.
With a product as delicious as burrata, the simplest preparations are almost always the best.
This beautiful salad literally screams SUMMER. But it must be made with local, juicy, ripe blueberries and crisp baby greens for optimal deliciousness. There’s something about serving a salad with whole lettuce leaves that makes it extra dramatic. And if you can get your hands on culinary-grade (no pesticides used) edible flowers for garnish, you’ll WOW everyone at the table.
Technique Note Are you wondering why I don’t just toss the salad with the blueberry vinaigrette, instead of two-stepping it with a light coating of oil and vinegar first? It’s for esthetics. The Blueberry Ginger-Lime Vinaigrette is purple–which muddies the brilliant colors of the other ingredients. So instead, I spoon it onto the plate, to be mixed with the salad as you eat. I use this method often with vibrantly colored vinaigrettes.
Blueberry Ginger-Lime Vinaigrette (recipe below)
1 head baby red romaine, small inner leaves only
1 head baby butter lettuce, small inner leaves only
1 baby cucumber, trimmed and sliced
1 small baby sweet onion bulb, end trimmed, and thinly sliced
½ cup ripe, local blueberries, rinsed and stemmed
3 tablespoon cold-pressed, extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
sea salt, in a grinder
black peppercorns, in a grinder
1 burrata cheese ball, torn in half, raggy side up
fresh mint springs
culinary grade pansy flowers
black pepper, in a grinder
- Prepare Blueberry Ginger-Lime Vinaigrette. (Making this salad is a breeze if you have the vinaigrette on hand in the fridge. So make ahead if you can.)
- On each of two large salad plates, arrange ½ of the burrata just off center on the plate, and drizzle Blueberry Ginger-Lime Vinaigrette to the narrower side of it.
- In a large mixing bowl, toss lettuce leaves (left whole), cucumber, onion, and blueberries first with olive oil, and then with vinegar. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Arrange salad on each plate, tuck in fresh mint sprigs and pansies if using, and then grind pepper on top.
- To eat, drag each bite of salad through the bottom of the plate, for a symphony of flavors and textures.
Makes 2 salads.
Blueberry Ginger-Lime Vinaigrette
You won’t need all of this dressing, but it’s great to have on hand for other salads throughout the week.
Ingredient Note Another fragrant honey can be used here; wild huckleberry or blackberry are also very good. You choose.
Equipment Note A Vitamix blender makes the smoothest, most thoroughly emulsified vinaigrette. I love this machine. Note that in the photos above, I didn’t use a blender, and thus the emulsification didn’t hold through the photo shoot.
1 cup fresh blueberries, rinsed and stemmed
1 clove garlic, peeled, and minced
1 teaspoon peeled, grated fresh ginger
¼ cup best-quality white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons wildflower honey
¾ cup cold-pressed, extra virgin olive oil (or half-and-half combination of olive oil and vegetable oil)
fine sea salt, to taste
freshly ground black pepper
- In a small processor (or blender), puree blueberries, garlic, and ginger as smooth as possible.
- Add vinegar, honey, and oil and process until emulsified.
- Use immediately or refrigerate. Bring to cool room temperature and whisk again just before using.
Makes about 1¼ cup.
Cookin’ with Gas (inspiration from around the web)
- Gastrogasm/Burrata | Made & State
- How to Make Old-World Mozzarella and Burrata, According to DiStefano Cheese | Bon Appetit
Copyright 2015 Susan S. Bradley. All rights reserved.