Nigella Eats Everything

Writing on food and France

Burrata salad with courgette, basil and pistachios

At the beginning of the summer, the thought that one day I might be sick of salads was a laughable concept. Fresh, cold and crunchy, salads was everything the weather was not as here, the south of France has been balancing on the cusp of 40C for more days than I care to remember, and Gaylord and I have lapped up bowls upon bowls of salad like panting dogs at a water bowl. These salads were vibrantly colourful, full of virtuous promise, served for both lunch and dinner. As I write this, I finally twig why I’m now officially sick of them. Too much of a good thing. After visiting Mexico (so many tacos) and missing vegetables – particularly broccoli – this is a feat I never thought could happen. But then I put a burrata in a salad and realised that I had been missing an essential ingredient.

burrata salad

Care for a story?

Once upon a time I worked as a chef (want some behind the scenes kitchen goss? Read about my chef life here.) This career path only concluded two and a half years ago as I suppose Covid is as good an excuse as any to pack in a job you can just about tolerate but if one more customer places an order I swear to God…

But back to burrata. During those bygone days of chef pants, crocks and bandanas which always smelt of grease no matter how much I valiantly washed them, my fellow chefs and I rotated the responsibility of creating the weekly special. I adored this – many keen cooks approach cheffing for the chance of creativity in a professional kitchen and the bad news is that routine is the name of the game for a commis or chef de partie. You just have to persevere through that repetitive mise-en-place, proving yourself (with as few meltdowns as possible) until creativity and menu ideas are within your grasp. This Manchester café however was one of those lovely places which respected equal opportunity – we all had a go at the specials. Long tangent over – one of my specials was burrata! (we knew this was going somewhere). I smoked each burrata with hay (yes, I really did, and I had to buy the hay from a pet shop) and served it with fennel and griddled artichoke hearts.

burrata salad

Just like my special, burrata screams ‘fussy’. But, what if I told you all you need is a courgette, a sprinkling of nuts, good extra virgin olive oil and a burrata, and you have the only salad you’ll want to eat for the rest of the summer?

What is burrata cheese?

Burrata is a rich, fresh Italian cheese of loose stringy curds which are all held together in a sack of mozzarella. In Italy, burrata is often served on the day it’s made so the real sweet flavour can be fully appreciated. Sadly, all exports are slightly diluted or soured and will never amount to the freshest burrata served in Italy, a quivering orb reminiscent of a crystal ball adorning platters of ripe tomatoes and strewn basil. The fortunes of those who eat it are undoubtably the better for it.

When you cut into a burrata it’s like the parting of the Red Sea before the flood. Slowly the creamy insides cascade out, a river of milky fresh cheese which you can scoop up with, in this recipe’s case, a mouthful of salted nuts and lemony courgette ribbons.

Paired with light, fresh flavours of citrus and raw courgette, the burrata doesn’t quite shine in a glittering metaphor; it’s more regally resplendent in its velvety curds, only needing a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and those crunchy pistachios and pine nuts.

So, how to make this burrata salad fit for a creative chef? Take a courgette and peel it all the way around, right down to the watery seedy centre. Massage those ribbons in lemon juice and zest, olive oil, salt and basil. Then toast your nuts and soak them in olive oil. Squeeze all the excess water from the courgette and plate artfully like a beach babe’s tousled hair. Top with the burrata. Grind black pepper over it all and add a pinch of chilli flakes. Break open the burrata (and film it, it’s the epitome of food porn) then sprinkle with the nuts. Add more basil and serve.

burrata salad

A burrata salad for a hot summer’s day. And no one, least of all me, will be complaining.

Burrata salad with courgette, basil, pistachios & pine nuts

While burrata is known to be infinitely better in its home country, freshly churned and packaged in its stretchy skin just before serving, there is not a lot we can do if we don't live in Italy. Don't lose hope though dear reader, as of course there are plenty of good makers of burrata outside Italy. Find a good cheese shop or, in France, a crèmerie, or a reputable dairy or cheese market. If all else fails, your supermarket will sell burrata and even then, it will still be delicious because burrata is just generally a delicious thing to eat.
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time0 mins
Course: Appetizer, Lunch, Salad, Side Dish, Starter
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: basil, burrata, courgette, pine nuts, pistachio
Servings: 4 as a side

Ingredients

  • 1 courgette
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil plus extra
  • 1 lemon or lime both zest and juice
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • A small handful of freshly torn basil
  • 2 tbsp pine nuts
  • 1 tbsp pistachios
  • 1 burrata
  • Black pepper and chilli flakes

Instructions

  • First of all, take the burrata out of the fridge and its packaging 30 minutes before serving.
  • Take your courgette and peel it into ribbons with a peeler. Go all around the courgette until you have the seedy middle left which you can throw away. Put all the ribbons in a large bowl, sprinkle with the zest and juice of half your lemon or lime, the 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, a pinch of salt and the basil. Toss altogether and set aside.
  • Toast the pine nuts and pistachios until a light gold colour. If your pistachios are already 'grilled' no need to toast them. Tip them into a bowl and cover with more extra virgin olive oil and add a pinch of salt.
  • Squeeze the excess water out of the courgette and plate in a serving bowl like the ruffles of a lady's petticoat. Top with your burrata and grind over some black pepper and add a sprinkle of chilli flakes.
  • Now, the best part – cut open the burrata and scoop out all the milky curds. Layer it all over the courgette, top with the nuts and oil, and add more basil and a little extra seasoning. Serve.

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10 responses to “Burrata salad with courgette, basil and pistachios”

  1. Dorothy's New Vintage Kitchen Avatar

    This is a beautiful dish. I always think of burrata as an indulgence, something special to serve.

    1. Nigella Eats Everything Avatar

      You’re so right, burrata is ridiculously indulgent! I think treating ourselves to one or two in the summer is allowed though! 😉

  2. Thistles and Kiwis Avatar

    Gosh that sounds so good! It is the middle of winter down here and I can hardly wait for summer now!

    1. Nigella Eats Everything Avatar

      Thank you! And yes of course it is, but to be honest, if I could be back in Wellington again I’d happily take your winter!

  3. Nancy Richy Avatar

    Burrata, basil, pistachios! I’m in heaven! Can’t wait to try this delicacy. Thanks for the tasty bite! 🌟 😋 🐘

    1. Nigella Eats Everything Avatar

      Haha what a heaven ey! No thank you, your words mean so much!

  4. […] Burrata salad with courgette, basil and pistachios — Nigella Eats Everything […]

  5. mconley14 Avatar
    mconley14

    Love this. Reminds me of the article I wrote about pistachio. So cool!

    1. Nigella Eats Everything Avatar

      Oh thank you! I’ll have to check out your pistachio blog post!

  6. […] year has been a good year and that is because I’ve eaten a lot of burrata. There was the burrata and crunchy courgette and basil salad, and now there’s burrata sliced open and heaped onto toasted baguette. This an acceptable […]

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