By Liz Thorpe
Liz Thorpe is a cheese expert, author and consultant. She is currently writing her second book about cheese to be published by Flatiron Books in Fall 2016.
My attitude about cooking with cheese is that I want to keep things as simple as possible so I can really celebrate and savor the textures and flavors of the cheese itself. I don’t want the cheese to be a mere ingredient or seasoning—I want it to be the star.
Luckily, summer offers up so much incredible produce that combining a few perfect foods becomes a no-brainer pleasure. Here are two of my household staples for these hot months when tomatoes are in brief and luscious season:
Thick, succulent, cream-filled burrata replaces mayonnaise in this summer classic and offers a milky, pillowy counterpart to smoky bacon and juicy, ripe tomato
4 slices thick-cut bacon
8 ounces Wisconsin burrata cheese
4 slices Pullman loaf or other white bread (This is the only time I skip multigrain. White bread is classic for a reason.)
1 perfectly ripe tomato, cored
2 leaves butter or romaine lettuce
Fry bacon over medium heat to your preference of browned to crunchy; drain on paper towels. Break the 4 slices into 8 equal pieces total.
Take burrata out of the fridge so it has 15-20 minutes to lose its chill.
Toast bread; while bread is toasting wash and dry lettuce leaves and thinly slice tomato.
Cut burrata in half so creamy insides are exposed; smear two pieces of bread with burrata as you would with mayonnaise.
For each sandwich, layer lettuce, overlapping tomato slices, half the burrata and four half-slices of bacon on bread slice. (Place 2 pieces of bacon side-by-side and then the remaining 2 perpendicular so you have a solid layer of bacon); top with additional 2-3 slices of tomato before capping with the bread (burrata’d side down).
Slice in half with chef’s knife.
5-6 perfectly ripe summer tomatoes, out of refrigeration at least 6 hours, cored and thinly sliced
Extra virgin olive oil; ideally with a softer, sweeter flavor profile like Spanish Arbequina olive oil
8 ounces Wisconsin burrata (1 large 8-ounce ball or 2 smaller 4-ounce balls)
Handful of basil
1 loaf crusty bread (sourdough, baguette)
At least 1 hour before serving, layer tomato slices on large platter. If you need to make them more than 1 layer high, sprinkle with kosher salt before adding second layer.
Drizzle generously with olive oil.
Allow tomatoes to macerate in salt and oil; they will shed their juices, making a soppable, delicious broth.
Just before serving, roll basil leaves and slice thinly (chiffonade); shower tomatoes with shredded basil.
Plop burrata atop tomatoes; use a paring knife to cut cheese open so insides begin to ooze onto tomatoes. Serve with forks, small knives and crusty bread; encourage your guests to mix burrata and tomatoes, and soak up the juices straight from the platter.
Still hungry? Check out more Wisconsin cheese summer pairing ideas here.