Sunday, May 10, 2015

Heirloom Tomato, Burrata and Yogurt Salad

Last night, J planned an excellent date night. He took me to the local Publix Aprons Cooking School which is inside of the world's best grocery store, Publix. We were treated to a celebrity chef cooking demonstration/dinner by Harold Dieterle, the winner of Season 1 of Top Chef, my absolute favorite cooking show. I remember watching Season 1 religiously in my senior year of college, and Harold was always a stand out chef.

It seems as though Chef Harold has partnered with Chobani Greek Yogurt and themed the entire menu around its products. Publix's wine specialist did a great job pairing wines for us as well, and I left the dinner more than a little happy. We had a front row seat and we were not hungry when we left at all. The first course served to us by Chef Harold was an interesting twist on a Caprese Salad, and we all know how much I love that!! So, while still inspired and with ample time, I set out to see if I could recreate the deliciousness we had last night. The result? Obviously not as good as Chef Harold's but remarkably close!!!

Total Prep Time: 35 minutes
Total Cook Time: 15 minutes (for the fried shallots)

What you will need:

Heirloom tomatoes (3-4 of them, whatever varieties you prefer, just make sure they are nice and firm)
2 shallots, medium
5-6 leaves of fresh basil
4 oz. 4% Chobani Greek Yogurt
1 ball fresh burrata cheese (this was difficult to find--ultimately ended up at Whole Foods)
Olive Oil
Balsamic Vinegar
Salt and Pepper to taste
Not pictured: a small dusting of flour and canola oil to fill a small frying pan

First, we will prepare the fried shallots, which is the garnish for this dish that gives it a nice bit of crunchy texture. Peel and slice ONE shallot into thin rings:

Separate the rings and lightly dust with flour.

Now heat canola oil in a small frying pan, deep enough to let the little shallots float:

You want the oil to get hot enough to where its shimmering, but not crackling yet. I turn the heat up pretty high (like on an 8) to get it where it needs to be, then lower to about a 6. Toss half of your shallots in the oil, and listen to the delightful frying sounds.

Let them cook for a few minutes, until they are delightfully brown and crispy, then remove on to a paper-towel lined plate. Cook your other batch and then set aside.

Next, cut your tomatoes into large wedges (eighths or so), and throw them in a large glass bowl. Drizzle with olive oil, balsamic, salt and pepper to taste, then toss. You don't need a ton of juice (I got a little over exuberant and the next time I make this, I will probably cut back on the balsamic and oil).  Chef Harold explained that this technique is excellent for drawing some of the natural liquid out of the tomatoes to enhance the flavor and add even more juice to the bowl.

Chiffonade your basil (you can tear it into large chunks if you prefer--that was Chef Harold's method, but I like the more uniform look of a chiffonade) and throw it in as well. Then, mince half of the second shallot into a nice fine mince. J handled this part because he was very excited to use the technique he learned.

He cut the shallot in half so that it had a flat side, then made vertical, tiny slits almost all the way to the end. It's important not to cut the very end of the shallot, because that will keep all the pieces together. Then, he cut horizontally through the shallot as seen above. Next, he diced finely down the shallot.

Add the minced shallot and the basil to the tomato mixture, give another good toss, then set aside.

Now, let's talk about burrata. You know how fresh mozzarella is amazing? Burrata is like the love child of fresh mozzarella and heavy cream. It's a ball of fresh mozzarella with LIQUID CREAM inside. Burrata is great as its own appetizer with some olive oil and salt and pepper drizzled over it, served with crostini. But we're elevating the burrata right now.

That right there. It's full of cream. It's amazing.

Quarter the burrata and combine with 4 oz of the Chobani yogurt. Make sure you get all the good liquid cream that comes pouring out of the burrata into the bowl. Then add some salt and pepper to taste, and mix with your handy dandy immersion blender. You don't want it to become completely liquefied, but a relatively smooth consistency is great.

Chef Harold indicated that you could freeze this mixture and really elevate the dish, but I didn't have time for that tonight--I was too hungry. I stuck it in the fridge while I plated the tomatoes, then took it back out and spooned it into each dish. Top with the crispy shallots, serve and ENJOY!!!