I gasped when I saw them. In the Co-op’s cheese section, I saw a basketful of individually-wrapped burrata cheeses. Not domestic. From Italy (and the price reflected its distant provenance). Despite all the time I’ve been in Italy — in Venice, mainly, which might explain it — I’d never noticed or come across this luscious glob of cheese that Denevan describes as “a thin sheath of mozzarella stretches to enclose a velvety center of ricotta-like cream and mozzarella threads.” Of course I bought one.
Denevan’s recipe is a purist’s delight. Six ingredients combined in their simplest form. Delicious. Devine. My only comments are on the ingredients.
Shadowcook: HA! Six servings my fanny. Even someone hyperconscious of portions would be skeptical. More like four servings or even three.
1/4 cup shelled hazelnuts
2 ripe nectarines
Shadowcook: I used a small ripe peach for myself.
3 to 4 ounces mâche
8 oz burrata cheese (1 small or 2 large balls), at room temperature
Shadowcook: Denevan notes in his introductory paragraph to this recipe that it’s best at cool room temperature, which is to say keep it in the fridge until you’re ready. I liked it cool.
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Shadowcook: Get out your fruitiest kind.
Preheat oven to 400 F.
Spread the hazelnuts on a baking sheet and toast in the oven until they are fragrant and their skins loosen, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer the hazelnuts to a plate and let cool slightly. Rub the hazelnuts in a folded kitchen towel to release their skins. Coarsely chop the nuts and set aside.
Cut the nectarines in half and remove the pits. Slice the fruits into thin wedges. Wash the mâche in a sink filled with cold water. Carefully remove any dirt or sand stuck between the leaves and discard any root ends. Dry the mâche in a salad spinner.
Cut the burrata into 1/4-inch slices; because it is very soft, it might be easier to slice with a serrated knife. Arrange the cheese on 6 chilled salad plates. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper and drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil.
In a medium bowl, toss together the mâche and the nectarines with the remaining olive oil. Season with salt. Arrange on top of the burrata. Sprinkle with the hazelnuts and serve.