Show off the season's colorful heirloom tomatoes and creamy burrata in this quick and easy appetizer
It's peak summer season, which means ... it's peak tomato season! The farmers' market tables are piled high with tomatoes galore, and if you have a garden, chances are your tomato plants are weighed down with ripe cherries, robust Beefsteaks and sassy Early Girls ready for the picking. The best way to enjoy a freshly picked tomato, in my opinion, is as simply as possible, so its natural sweetness and sun-kissed flavor shine through.
In our kitchen, a favorite preparation is the Italian Caprese salad, a platter of thick slices of vine-ripened tomatoes layered with fresh mozzarella and just-plucked basil leaves. All that's needed is a drizzle of good olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and the ingredients speak for themselves. Another equally popular preparation is tomato bruschetta -- thick slices of grilled garlicky bread topped with a jumble of juicy chopped tomatoes, basil and, ahem, more garlic. This is finger-licking, hands-on fare, best served family-style, accompanied by a pile of napkins to wipe up the sweet dribbling juices.
On a recent weekend, I combined these two recipes into one for a simple yet elegant presentation -- including burrata cheese, grilled bread and fresh basil -- layered into small glasses. It was a smart and fun way to portion the tomatoes and dress things up for entertaining, while saving our summer whites from wayward juices. I am a sucker for heirloom tomatoes with their variety of colors, patterns and bulbous shapes, and these glasses perfectly displayed them like confetti. A dollop of creamy burrata and a drizzle of aged balsamic vinegar resulted in a fresh and savory parfait that is as beautiful to look at as it is delicious to eat.
Considering how fresh and minimal this recipe is, it's important to use high-quality ingredients. Choose firm yet ripe tomatoes with a range of colors, and be sure to use a good extra-virgin olive oil and aged balsamic vinegar. You will need six (8-ounce) glasses for this recipe.
Heirloom Tomato and Burrata Parfaits
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Yield: serves 6 as an appetizer
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 small garlic clove, minced
6 baguette slices, cut on the diagonal, about 4 inches in length and 1/4 inch thick
2 pounds assorted heirloom tomatoes, seeded, cut into 1/4-inch dice
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper, plus more for garnish
1 burrata, about 8 ounces
6 teaspoons aged balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup small basil leaves (or large leaves, chopped)
Make the crostini: Preheat the oven broiler or prepare the grill for direct cooking over medium heat. Whisk the oil, garlic and a pinch of salt in a small bowl. Lightly brush each bread slice with the oil. Broil or grill the bread until crisp and golden on both sides, 2 to 4 minutes. Remove and set aside while you assemble the parfaits.
Combine the tomatoes, oil, salt and pepper in a bowl and gently stir to combine. Taste for seasoning and add more salt if desired. Divide the tomatoes between six (8-ounce) glasses.
Cut the burrata into 6 wedges and place one wedge in each glass. Drizzle about 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar in each glass, and garnish with the basil and black pepper. Top each glass with a crostini and serve immediately.
CAPTIONS AND CREDITS
Caption 01: Photo by Lynda Balslev for TasteFood.