Antipasti Platter – Roasted Eggplant, Peppers & Tomatoes with Burrata

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NBA Playoffs are here and my husband had an offer to go the the Warriors game LIVE, so I invited my two lovely neighbors over for some impromtu girl time.  Yes, the game was on and the Warriors won!  But more importantly, we watched female style, champagne in hand and a lovely antipasti platter spread before us.  Needless to say, a good time was had by all and my platter with thin slices of roasted eggplant, charred mini sweet peppers, wilted cherry tomatoes, salty olives and creamy burrata passed the test!  The eggplant was a rich and flavorful, the mini peppers just got sweeter through roasting and the burrata was a delight.  The big winner though, was the balsamic reduction that I drizzled over the whole thing. Credit goes to my son, Eric, for that recipe.  Yum!  Oh, and here are our fun napkins…just because.

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If you have never had burrata, it’s similar to fresh mozzarella but creamier and even more delicious! Burrata means ‘buttered’ in Italian if that gives you any indication of it’s yumminess. It resembles fresh mozzarella but it’s insides are soft and ooze out upon cutting it open. Mmmm….. I used a burrata from Belfiore, one of the few small family owned, cheesemakers in the SF Bay Area.  I love to promote local companies, especially when they take such care to use only quality natural ingredients, and the owners just happen to be friends of mine – even better!  Belfiore handcrafts their cheeses using no artificial ingredients, additives or preservatives.  In addition I love that they  use a vegetarian rennet in making their burrata.  I really like this brand but there are many other good handcrafted cheese companies out there too so look around.

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TIPS:  I love fresh herbs on almost anything.  I just walk outside my kitchen door and clip whatever I have on hand.  This time it was fresh basil, thyme and parsley, however, any fresh herbs will work just fine.  If you don’t have access to fresh herbs, sprinkle a bit of Italian Seasoning on top of everything before drizzling with balsamic reduction.  The balsamic reduction is heavenly and I can think of dozens of ways to use it in the future.  It’s easy to make but if you don’t want to go to the trouble, a sprinkle of balsamic vinegar and a drizzle of olive oil will be tasty too.

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I will be out of town next week at Rancho La Puerta (an early birthday present to myself) so I will not be in my kitchen but getting inspiration from the wonderful chefs at The Ranch.  So stay tuned, especially on FACEBOOK and INSTAGRAM for photos from my week at The Ranch.  When I come back, I’m sure I will have a lot to share… Have a good week!-Joyce

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ROASTED EGGPLANT, PEPPERS & TOMATOES  WITH BURRATA

1 globe eggplant
1 pint cherry tomatoes
1 pint miniature sweet peppers
8 oz burrata, room temperature if possible
1/4 cup olive oil plus more for drizzling
1 cup fresh baby arugula
1/2 cup fresh mixed herbs, parsley, basil or thyme, roughly chopped
1/2 cup kalamata or black olives (optional)
1 cup balsamic vinegar
2-3 Tbsn sugar, brown sugar or honey
Vinaigrette:  2 Tbsn olive oil, 2 Tbsn lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste

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  • Remove the leafy stem and cut the aubergine into half lengthwise

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  • Then slice thinly lengthwise using a sharp knife or a mandolin

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  • Spread the slices on papertowels and sprinkle liberally with salt.  Let sit for at least 10 minutes to let the excess water come out.

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  • Wipe eggplant slices dry. Lightly oil a large cookie sheet and spread eggplant evenly in the pan in a single layer.  You may need more than one pan depending on the thickness of the slices.

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  • Brush tops with olive oil and roast at 400°F until they turn light brown, about. 25-35 minutes

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  • Place cherry tomatoes and peppers in another lightly oiled pan and roast in the same oven until charred in spots and wilted. Turn peppers once.
  • Stir balsamic vinegar and 2 Tbsn sugar together in a small saucepan and place over high heat. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer until the vinegar mixture has reduced to 1/3 cup, about 10 minutes. After 5 minutes, taste and add another Tbsn sugar if it seems too acidic and cook another 5 minutes.. Set the balsamic reduction aside to cool (It should be a syrupy consistency)

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  • Remove the eggplant from the oven and let cool slightly.  Combine the vinaigrette ingredients in a small bowl and pour the vinaigrette onto the warm eggplant and lightly toss to combine.

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  • Arrange eggplant, peppers, tomatoes, olives and burrata on a platter.

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  • Sprinkle herbs and arugula over the top.  Drizzle with olive oil (optional) and balsamic reduction.

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  • Serve room temperature with crusty sourdough bread and the remaining balsamic reduction on the side.

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Roasted Eggplant, Peppers & Tomatoes with Burrata

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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1 globe eggplant
1 pint cherry tomatoes
1 pint miniature sweet peppers
8 oz burrata, room temperature if possible
1/4 cup olive oil plus more for drizzling
1 cup fresh baby arugula
1/2 cup fresh mixed herbs, parsley, basil or thyme, roughly chopped
1/2 cup kalamata or black olives (optional)
1 cup balsamic vinegar
2-3 Tbsn sugar, brown sugar or honey
Vinaigrette:  2 Tbsn olive oil, 2 Tbsn lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste

  • Remove the leafy stem and cut the aubergine into half lengthwise, then slice thinly lengthwise using a sharp knife or a mandolin
  • Spread the slices on papertowels and sprinkle liberally with salt.  Let sit for at least 10 minutes to let the excess water come out.
  • Wipe eggplant slices dry. Lightly oil a large cookie sheet and spread eggplant evenly in the pan in a single layer.  You may need more than one pan depending on the thickness of the slices.
  • Brush tops with olive oil and roast at 400°F until they turn light brown, about. 25-35 minutes
  • Place cherry tomatoes and peppers in another lightly oiled pan and roast in the same oven until charred in spots and wilted. Turn peppers once.
  • Stir balsamic vinegar and 2 Tbsn sugar together in a small saucepan and place over high heat. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer until the vinegar mixture has reduced to 1/3 cup, about 10 minutes. After 5 minutes, taste and add another Tbsn sugar if it seems too acidic and cook another 5 minutes.. Set the balsamic reduction aside to cool (It should be a syrupy consistency)
  • Remove the eggplant from the oven and let cool slightly.  Combine vinaigrette ingredients in a small bowl and pour the vinaigrette onto the warm eggplant and lightly toss to combine.
  • Arrange eggplant, peppers, tomatoes, olives and burrata on a platter.
  • Sprinkle herbs and arugula over the top.
  • Drizzle with olive oil (optional) and balsamic reduction.
  • Serve room temperature with crusty sourdough bread and the remaining balsamic reduction on the side.

 

 

Wheatless Wednesday – Root Vegetable Slaw with Burrata

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Roots don’t get the respect that they deserve.  Don’t be fooled by the outward appearance of  most root vegetables with their tough, hairy rough exteriors which only serve to protect the lovely jewels inside.  Their gorgeous interior colors indicate their rich nutrient value with each root containing it’s own set of health benefits. This raw root salad is the epitome of Eat the Rainbow with it’s vibrant red, pink, orange, yellow and green. Roots are packed with a high concentration of antioxidants, Vitamins C, B, A, and Iron. Roots, which grow under ground, absorb vitamins and minerals from the soil and are the energy store house for the plants. Their complex carbohydrates and fiber makes us feel full and satiated, hopefully satisfying our cravings for junk food. Summer is a great time to eat root vegetables fresh when you can eat them raw and get the most health benefits.
Jerusalem

This Root Vegetable Slaw is from the “Jerusalem” cookbook which I received as a very thoughtful birthday gift from a good friend.  “Jerusalem: A Cookbook” was written by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi, chefs who grew up on opposite sides of Jerusalem; Mr. Tamimi in the Arab East and Mr. Ottolenghi in the Jewish West, although they didn’t know each other. They left Israel more than 20 years ago and met in London where they became close friends and business partners.  This is more than just a cookbook.  It’s a gorgeous collection of photos, recipes, history and stories about Jerusalem.  The authors describe it as “a self-indulgent, nostalgic trip into our pasts.”

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I loved this salad!  At first I wasn’t sure about the combination of raw vegetables and soft cheese but the combination of crispy fresh with creamy soft is really nice.  The recipe calls for Labneh, which is really common in the Mediterranean.  It’s not as easy to find here so I substituted Burrata which is a fresh Italian cheese made from mozzarella and cream. It’s softer and creamier than fresh mozzarella.  Burrata means “buttered” in Italian which seems very appropriate.  “Jerusalem” includes a recipe to make your own Labneh if you are so inclined, or maybe you will find it in a market near you.

Root Vegetable Slaw with Burrata

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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3 medium beets
2 medium carrots
1/2 celery root
1 medium kohlrabi (optional)
4 Tbsn lemon juice
4 Tbsn olive oil
3 Tbsn sherry vinegar (or mirin)
2 tsp sugar
3/4 cup cilantro, coarsely chopped
2/3 cup flat leaf parsley, coarsely chopped
3/4 cup mint, ribboned or chopped
1/2 Tbsn lemon zest
salt and pepper
1 cup burrata or labneh (optional)

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  • Peel vegetables and slice then thinly into matchsticks (julienne).

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  • You can use a mandolin or food processor.  To do it by hand, stack a few slices at a time on top of one another and cut them into thin strips.

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  • For carrots, slice off ends and cut into halves or thirds, depending on the size of the carrots.  Mine were small so I used four.

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  • Try to cut all vegetables into the same sized matchsticks.

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  • Place all strips in a large bowl and cover with cold water.  Set aside while you make the dressing.

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  • Wash and dry a lemon.  Zest the lemon first, then halve and squeeze the juice.

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  • Place the lemon juice, olive oil, vinegar, sugar and 1 teaspoon salt in a small saucepan.  Bring to a gentle simmer and stir until the sugar and salt have dissolved.  Remove from heat.

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  • Drain the vegetable strips and transfer to a paper towel to dry well.  Dry the bowl and replace the vegetables.  Pour the hot dressing over the vegetables, mix well and let cool.  Place in the refrigerator for at least 45 minutes.

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  • Slice mint into ribbons and chop herbs, if you haven’t already done so.

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When ready to serve, add the herbs, lemon zest and 1 tsp black pepper to the salad.  Toss well, taste, and add more salt if needed.

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  • Serve with burrata or labneh on the side, if desired.