Monday, May 9, 2011

Broccolini Salad with Burrata Cheese (and a word on blanching vegetables)

Happy day after Mother's Day! Did you have a good one? I hope so. My mom called me the day before Mother's Day because she thought Mother's Day was on Saturday and not Sunday. Not that she was trying to trick me or anything, but that's just how little she could care about the holiday. (Aside from not knowing the date, here she is calling me to wish me a good day.) Her disinterest in Hallmark holidays is one of the many reasons why I love her. Another thing about my mom that I'm thankful for is how taught me to love my vegetables.

Now, in all these years, I've always stir-fried my veggies or eaten them raw (which is how my mom served us vegetables growing up). Scarred from all the grey string beans and limp pieces of broccoli I had eaten at friends' houses or in the cafeteria throughout my childhood, as an adult, the idea of boiling vegetables repulsed me. Could it ever result in vegetables that weren't sad and tasteless? I doubted it.

While flipping through my borrowed copy of Ad Hoc, I came across Thomas Keller's broccolini salad with burrata cheese. I love both things, especially the creamy decadence of burrata (have you had it? If you like fresh mozzarella, please go out and try it. I promise you'll love it). In the recipe he calls for blanching the broccolini, which I had heard of and seen done on the Food Network, but had always clumped into the 'boiling=sad & limp vegetables' category. I was just about to turn the page to find another recipe when I read his whole explanation about the blanching process and how it results in bright green, perfectly tender-crisp vegetables. I was sold. It does take a wee bit of patience (and you have to make an ice bath to plunge your vegetables into) but it really does make for a very well-cooked vegetable--gorgeous bright green, crisp to the bite, and uniformly seasoned.

Broccolini Salad with Burrata Cheese

2 pounds broccolini
3 large cremini mushrooms, about 2 inches in diameter (I left these out just 'cause I didn't feel like buying a whole carton of them only to use 3)
1 red onion
1 cup black Cerignola olives, or other cured olives (I used other cured olives because I was not near a gourmet grocery store at the time. Actually, I'm not even sure if they're cured. Thomas Keller is definitely never going to hire me to work in the French Laundry kitchen, is he?)
About 1/2 cup Sherry Vinaigrette (recipe below)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
One 8-ounce burrata cheese (Trader Joe's sells smaller pieces of burrata which is what I used)
Extra virgin olive oil
Fleur de sel (I do not have this in my pantry, but I love the idea of it.)

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Prepare an ice bath. Set a cooling rack over a baking sheet and line the rack with paper towels.

With a paring knife, cut off the thick ends of the broccolini stalks and peel the remaining stalks. Blanch the broccolini in batches in the boiling water until crisp-tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to the ice bath to stop the cooking, and drain on the paper towels.

Cut off the stems of the mushrooms flush with the caps and discard. Cut the caps into paper-thin slices using a Japanese mandoline or other vegetable slicer or by hand, and transfer to a small bowl.

Cut the onion in half through the equator. Slice one half of the onion into paper-thin rings on the mandoline. Select about 20 of the nicest rings, and reserve the remaining onion for another use.

Cut the flesh of the olives away from the pit. Lay the pieces cut-side down, and cut lengthwise into thin slices.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Line up the broccolini stalks side by side on the parchment paper (this will allow you to dress and season the broccolini evenly), drizzle with about 1/4 cup of the vinaigrette, and toss to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Toss the mushroom slices with about 2 tablespoons of the vinaigrette and season with salt and pepper (do not overdress the mushrooms).

Cut away the top nub of the burrata and put it in a shallow serving bowl that just holds it. Holding a pair of scissors vertically, snip an X into the top of the burrata, reaching the soft center. Open the top slightly and drizzle olive oil over and around the cheese. Sprinkle with fleur de sel and pepper, and place on serving platter.

Arrange the broccolini, mushrooms, olives, and onions on the platter.

Serves 6

Sherry Vinaigrette

1/4 cup sherry wine vinegar
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 to 1 1/2 cups extra virgin olive oil

Whisk the two vinegars in a bowl, then whisk in about 1 cup of the olive oil in a steady stream. The vinaigrette should look broken (do not emulsify the dressing). Taste to check the balance of acid and oil, and add more olive oil as needed. Refrigerate in a covered container for up to 1 month. Makes 2 cups.

12 comments:

Jim said...

Funny that you write about burrata.
The client that sent me to Corsica also once had me shoot Burrata.

I had to buy a bunch because I did not know which one would be the most photogenic. At the end of the day I told my assistant "no. that's OK, take the cheese home with you"....well the next day he came in like he had had a religious experience. He feel in love with Burrata! We still had one in the studio fridge and I ate some and it is so delicious.

Your broccolini and burrata pics are very tasty-looking!

{BlueEyedYonder} said...

I learned what it meant to blanch something about 5 years back. I do it all the time. It makes such a HUGE difference.

Your pictures are gorgeous! I totally need a copy of Ad Hoc, I bet everything in there is delish.

Torrie said...

I need to add more salt when I blanch. Thanks for sharing this.

Funny, I just experienced burrata for the first time (on a pizza). Loved it, and plan on buying next time I'm in WF's. This looks delicious.

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Beautiful,delicate,enigmatic.I love it! Can't wait for the conference too, it's going to be great. And I'm 100% with you on the boob sweat. It's just plain unnecessary!

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