GET CHEESY

New Straits Times - - Living -

shelf life, two or three days, be­fore they be­gin to sour, so it’s worth ask­ing when ship­ments ar­rive and check­ing dates for the fresh­est pos­si­ble spec­i­mens.

Fresh bur­rata needs no adorn­ment, just good bread, or per­haps a driz­zle of olive oil and a few arugula leaves. To make it more fes­tive, you can add a quickly made top­ping of sea­sonal veg­eta­bles, and serve the gilded bur­rata as a salad or an an­tipasto. Bright-green fava beans, cel­ery and fen­nel make a strik­ing ren­di­tion for spring, flecked with mint or basil. I wowed my guests when I served this re­cently.

Con­sider other pair­ings through­out the year: slices of grilled eg­g­plant or roasted red and yel­low pep­pers, daubed with basil pesto; a salad of heir­loom toma­toes; chanterelle mush­rooms sautéed with rose­mary and gar­lic; grilled radic­chio.

Good with drinks or as an im­promptu meal, bur­rata, with your ac­com­pa­ni­ment of choice, makes for easy en­ter­tain­ing. 45 min­utes 4 serv­ings

1.3kg fresh fava beans in the pod 1 small shal­lot, finely diced

3 tbsp lemon juice

Salt and pep­per

¼ cup fruity ex­tra-vir­gin olive oil ½ cup thinly sliced cel­ery (ten­der in­ner stalks)

⅔ cup thinly sliced fen­nel A hand­ful of small arugula leaves

226g bur­rata

Mint or basil, for gar­nish

1. Bring a large saucepan of wa­ter to a boil, and fill a large bowl with ice wa­ter and keep it nearby. Mean­while, shuck the fava beans from the pods. Plunge beans into boil­ing wa­ter and cook for about 2 min­utes. Drain beans, then cool in the ice wa­ter to stop cook­ing. Blot beans on a clean kitchen towel. 2. Re­move outer gray skin from each bean: Pierce with a thumb­nail or par­ing knife and squeeze to pop bean from skin. Your yield should be about 2½ cups peeled beans. Dis­card skins. (If de­sired, beans may be peeled sev­eral hours ahead or a day in ad­vance and re­frig­er­ated. Re­turn to room tem­per­a­ture be­fore pro­ceed­ing.)

3. Make the dressing: Put diced shal­lot in a small bowl and cover with lemon juice. Add a good pinch of salt and let stand for 5 to 10 min­utes. Whisk in olive oil.

4. Place fava beans, cel­ery and fen­nel in a mix­ing bowl and sea­son with salt and pep­per. Add dressing and toss well.

5. Place bur­rata in the cen­tre of a plat­ter. Ar­range arugula leaves at edges of plat­ter. Spoon fava bean mix­ture and dressing over and around bur­rata. Gar­nish with roughly chopped mint or torn basil leaves and serve im­me­di­ately.

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