Burrata with Blood Oranges & Lavender Oil
At once vibrant and simple, this salad is a wonderful classic, yet colorful, Yotam Ottolenghi recipe. The plate relies on seasonal ingredients, but is clearly a result of a culinary artist's carefree approach to experimenting in the kitchen. The blood orange season is extremely short, a few weeks in late winter. The brilliant jewel tones, purple lavender, and emerald green basil leaves make for a sophisticated, crowd pleasing salad. The acclaimed Nopi restaurant in London serves 250 plates of this each week--a testament to the unusual, but successful, combination of textures and flavors. Once a difficult to find chef's only ingredient, burrata, a stringy curd and cream pouch-filled mozzarella with serious curb appeal, may be found in most supermarkets with respectable cheese departments. It pairs beautifully with nearly any fruit--try it with roasted pears, stone fruit, or grapefruit for a similarly refreshing experience.
The recipe below strays from the Nopi original. It calls for doubling up on the citrus and the dressing. No one ever complains, and not a drop remains. The dressing may be prepared a few hours in advance and the citrus peel removed, and oranges sliced and chilled for a couple of hours. Use fresh mozzarella if burrata unavailable. Before plating the burrata, let it sit on a paper towel for a few minutes so that it isn't dripping when placed on the serving platter. Cilantro in place of the basil also works and sometimes micro cilantro is more easily found than micro basil (or grow some!). Be sure to use CULINARY LAVENDER or the dressing may end up tasting like soap.
4 tablespoons olive oil
3 teaspoons clear runny honey
1 1/2 teaspoons dried culinary lavender
1 small clove garlic, crushed
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse sea salt
2 tablespoons coriander seeds, toasted
3 or 4 blood oranges, or 3 or 4 medium oranges, tangerines, or other seasonal orange citrus--about 4 slices per person
2 burrata balls
Micro basil, or torn basil leaves
1. Place the oil in a SMALL SAUCEPAN with the honey, lavender, garlic, and 3/4 teaspoon of salt. Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat and remove at once. Stir well and set aside until completely cool, then add the coriander seeds.
2. Use a sharp SERRATED KNIFE to trim the tops and tails off the oranges. Cut down the sides of the oranges, following their natural curve, to remove the skin and white pith. Slice into 8 rounds, 3/4-inch thick, and remove the seeds.
3. Divide the orange slices among the PLATES, slightly overlapping, and place a burrata ball alongside. Spoon the coriander seeds and lavender oil over the cheese and orange, top with basil leaves—tearing them as you go—or micro-basil, left whole, and serve.