Burrata Returns and This Time It’s Packin’ Fusilli

Fusilli Corti Bucati alla Bolognese con Burrata

These days, I never know from where my next recipe idea will come.  Beyond my family’s treasure trove, there’s the Cooking Channel & Food Network; Saturday afternoons on PBS are Must See TV; mustn’t forget Julia, Lidia, Mary Ann, Biba, and Mario, whether new episodes or rebroadcasts I’ve seen a dozen times; and most recently The Chew — and that’s only television sources. What about cookbooks, magazines, newspapers, and foodie websites? And where would we be without WordPress, Blogger, Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, and, StumbleUpon? I must admit that some days — like when I’m on my 5th attempt at remembering a password — I wonder if all of this is really necessary. Yes, there are those days but there are, also, days when I’m rewarded with a gift like today’s recipe.

Back in January I posted a pasta recipe featuring spinach, lemon, and burrata cheese. The recipe was well-received and a number of you have since tried and liked it. In the Comments Section, Celia, whose wonderful blog Fig Jam and Lime Cordial is what I hope mine will become when it grows up, mentioned that Down Under burrata is served atop pasta, broken open to allow the cream and stracciatelle (torn curds) to soak into the pasta, and served. Well, that’s all I needed to hear. I got right on it!

My first attempt was just as Celia has said. I dressed the pasta with my tomato sauce with meat, placed the burrata on top, and served myself a portion. That plate was just incredible and I couldn’t wait to have a 2nd helping. And that’s when it happened. You see, leaving the burrata on top of the pasta, though great for the first servings, isn’t so great for a 2nd helping. WIth the cream now soaked into the pasta, the burrata sitting atop the cooling pasta also cools. Soon, instead of being a warm, gooey cheese, it’s more like a block of lumpy cheese –still very tasty but a hardened block nonetheless. Leftovers were no better because by then the cheese was more pasta death mask than gooey delight. How does one re-heat this?  I eventually did reheat it in a covered pan with a bit of water and butter over a low heat. This was not what I had expected. Undaunted, I bought more burrata,

Cheese issues aside, I realized that this is no normal pasta dish and I needed to step it up. That’s why last week my Sugo alla Bolognese was posted. I had planned to share the recipe this Fall but I wanted everyone to have the recipe should they decide to make today’s pasta. So, when I made this dish for the 2nd time, I used my Sugo all Bolognese and did everything the same, save one big exception. In the first test, I served the burrata right after I spread it atop the pasta. Not this time. Since I was again dining alone, once it was spread, I used two large spoons to stir the cheese and cream into the pasta, garnished it with grated cheese, and served. Though the presentation wasn’t as impressive as having a chunk of burrata on each plate being served, by mixing the bowl’s contents, each serving had an even amount of burrata within, and most importantly, the cheese and pasta left in the serving bowl remained warm and manageable. Second helpings were a delight as were leftovers.

So, my advice for preparing this dish depends upon the number of dinner mates being served. If dining alone or serving one other, you can break the burrata and spread it across the top of the pasta. Then you can either serve the pasta first and then mix the cheese into the remainder in the pasta bowl, or, just go ahead and mix the cheese before serving. If you’re serving a number of guests, then just spread the burrata across the top of the pasta and serve. Once everyone has been served, you may wish to mix the remaining burrata into the remaining pasta to avoid the hardened blob of cheese.

Since that first burrata post, I’ve been asked several times whether I plan to make burrata. The answer is an unequivocal no. Making mozzarella is difficult enough. Forming it into a pouch, stuffing it with shredded curds, and then filling it with cream is a bit much for me to handle. Still, some of you may wish to try making burrata at home. Here, then, is a video of burrata being made. Enjoy!

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The last thing worth mentioning is the pasta I chose Fusilli Corti Bucati for the dish . The word fusilli means “little spindles” and it’s a twisted pasta. Corti in the name means small or short, as opposed to lunghi which means long. Bucati refers to the fact that each fusillo has a hollow center. I chose them because their shape would hold onto both the sauce and the cheese very well. Feel free to use whatever pasta you like.

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Fusilli Corti Bucati with Burrata Cheese Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 lb (453 g) fusilli corti bucati — maccheroni molle (pasta springs) may be substituted
  • 1 quart tomato sauce with meat — vegetarians may substitute meatless sauce
  • 1 lb (453 g) Burrata “pouch”
  • grated/shaved Pecorino Romano cheese — Parmigiano Reggiano may be substituted

Directions

  1. Cook pasta following package directions.
  2. Heat tomato sauce in a sauce pan.
  3. Drain pasta, return to pan, and mix with 2/3 of the heated tomato sauce.
  4. Place the dressed pasta in serving bowl.
  5. Place remaining 1/3 sauce on top of pasta.
  6. Place burrata pouch on top of pasta with sauce.
  7. Use 2 knives to slice through the pouch, releasing the curds & cream.
  8. Continue slicing until the burrata is evenly spread.
  9. At this point you can:
    1. Garnish with grated and/or shaved cheese
    2. Serve immediately.

                                      —  or  –

    1. Thoroughly combine the burrata & cream with the pasta & sauce.
    2. Garnish with grated/and or shaved cheese.
    3. Serve immediately

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Notes … 

Whether the sauce you use is bought, homemade, and with or without meat, make sure it is your favorite. This is no ordinary pasta and deserves no less than your best.

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It’s déjà vu all over again … 

I first shared the recipe for Cherry Cheesecake Pizza 2 years ago, in the days leading up to Easter. The recipe was given to Mom by the wonderful woman who lived across the street from us. A great little dessert, this “pie” has also been served, in some form, at countless parties and barbecues,  Easy to prepare, you’ll quickly see why this remains a family favorite. Click HERE to see the recipe.

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Coming soon to a monitor near you …

Old Meets New

Old Meets New

Grandpa’s Tuna Salad Gets A Makeover

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Gnocchi with Lemon, Spinach, and Burrata

If you came here expecting to find a recipe for those tasty little Italian potato dumplings, well, SURPRISE!  The gnocchi of today’s post are a type of pasta and have nothing to do with their namesake other than a similar shape. Now, I wish I could say that my family has prepared these for years but, the fact is, I stumbled upon these gnocchi during one of my voyages of discovery down the pasta aisle of the Italian market. Since I had already planned to share this recipe, I merely substituted one pasta for another.

The pasta aside, the reason I wanted to share today’s recipe was to introduce burrata. If you’ve never tried nor heard of burrata, you’re in for a treat. Originating in Puglia, burrata is a fresh cheese that is closely related to mozzarella. To make it, a piece of newly formed mozzarella is stretched into a flat sheet and used to form a pouch. It is then filled with fresh cheese curds, “topped off” with heavy cream, and sealed.  (See photo below.) The result is about as rich a cheese as one could ever expect.

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There are many recipes that feature burrata but the use of lemon is what drew me to this one. None of its flavors are so bold as to hide or overpower burrata’s creamy taste while the pasta shape lends itself to providing spots to capture bits of cheese and drops of cream.  Add some toasted slivered almonds for texture and you’ve a great dish of pasta, whether you serve it as a primo piatto or secondo.

Today’s recipe is straight-forward with little need for clarification. Just be sure to slice burrata on a rimmed dish or cutting board. You do not want to let any of the cream go anywhere but into your pasta. Beyond that, you’ll need to work fast. The pasta and olive oil mixture must be hot enough to wilt the spinach and, soon thereafter, melt the burrata.  A little reserved hot pasta water will help, as will bringing the burrata out of the refrigerator an hour earlier than needed to remove its chill. See? Nothing at all difficult and an incredible pasta is your reward.

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Gnocchi Pasta with Lemon, Spinach, and Burrata Recipe

Ingredients

yield: 6 servings

  • 1 lb gnocchi pasta
  • ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or grated
  • juice and zest of 1 Meyer lemon
  • 1 pkg (6 oz) fresh baby spinach
  • ¾ cup slivered almonds
  • grated nutmeg, to taste
  • 1 lb. burrata cheese, sliced and cut into 1 inch cubes
  • grated Pecorino Romano cheese
  • freshly cracked black pepper

Directions

  1. Place almonds in a small skillet over med-high heat and toast until lightly browned.  Remove from heat and set aside.
  2. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil and cook gnocchi per package directions or to taste.
  3. When pasta is approximately 4 minutes before being al dente, heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add butter and olive oil.
  4. Add the garlic to the hot oil/butter mixture and sauté until soft, about 1 minute. Do not allow to brown.
  5. Add the lemon juice and zest to the skillet and stir to combine. Keep hot until pasta is ready. If it reduces too much, replenish with pasta water.
  6. Drain the pasta and put it into a large bowl.
  7. Add the spinach, in thirds, to the gnocchi and mix well. Continue until all the spinach has been added to the bowl of gnocchi. (Adding it in batches will help to prevent clumping.)
  8. Add the almonds and a dash of nutmeg. Mix well.
  9. Add the hot butter/oil/lemon mixture to the pasta and toss, wilting the spinach as you do.
  10. Work quickly and once the spinach is lightly wilted, apportion 6 servings.
  11. Place an equal amount of burrata on top of each serving.
  12. Finish each serving with a sprinkle of Pecorino Romano cheese and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste.
  13. Serve immediately.

Inspired by Bon Appetit, December 2004

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Variations

Not all of us have ready access to Meyer lemons, and, gnocchi pasta probably won’t be found in your neighborhood grocery. Don’t let a lack of either stop you from making this delicious pasta. If missing Meyer lemons, use the juice and zest of 1/2 “normal” lemon. If unable to find gnocchi pasta, try using campanelle (little bells), gigli (lilies), or, as pictured on the right, conchiglie (shells).

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Notes

It cannot be stressed enough, the key to this dish is to work fast to insure that the spinach wilts and the burrata melts. Success means a great pasta for dinner.

Burrata’s creaminess makes it a natural for crostini and you may wish to reserve a bit just for that purpose. Use it in place of mozzarella to make the crostini described HERE and pictured on the left.

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It’s déjà vu all over again …

Kale-filled Pieda

Kale-filled Pieda

Flatbread are common to many cuisines and Italian is no different. Originating in Emilia-Romagna, this flatbread is called piedina but in my Dad’s area within Italy, the Republic of San Marino, it’s called pieda. Easy to prepare, Mom served pieda with sautéed Swiss chard but you can serve it with cheeses, lunch meats, salad greens, or any combination of those. You can find the recipe by clicking HERE.

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Coming soon to a monitor near you …

Last week I shared the recipe for Bartolini Lasagna. At the time, I called it “one of the jewels in the Bartolini Crown of Recipes.” Well, next week I’ll present another of our Crown’s jewels: Mom’s recipe for Cappelletti. Although not made in the traditional shape, these raviolini will turn an ordinary bowl of brodo into something really quite special.

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