With all of the traveling we’ve been doing in the last few weeks (two weekends ago we were in Philadelphia, and then this past weekend we were in Chicago), opportunities to cook fun stuff at home have not come as readily as they normally do for us. Since I had a half-day on Friday and could work from home for it, we decided that it would be the perfect day to make dinner at home rather than go out as is our usual wont and so I went about looking for something special to make. My cookbook flipping took me to Mexico From the Inside Out, and while I came up with a fun menu for that evening, what initially drew me in was a dish I had to make for myself for a decadent lunch: burrata with salsa verde and “weeds.” (More on that in a bit.) As soon as I hit the official office closing time I shut my laptop and headed out to take the commuter boat over the harbor to hit up both Whole Foods and a local Mexican grocery store called Cinco de Mayo to get the necessary supplies. The latter was perfect for getting tomatillos and blue corn tortillas and limes in bulk, while the latter had my burrata and a few other things I needed (like a ludicrous amount of cereal to bring to work).
While I was naturally a bit sweaty and parched by the time I trudged my way back up Federal Hill, I went to work almost immediately and frankly, this dish was super-easy to bring together. What I really, really appreciate about Mexico From the Inside Out is that it breaks down each component of a dish and then gives you instructions on how to plate all of those components together in order to replicate the restaurant experience at home. (To wit: you’re instructed to plate this with a deep bowl, which I did not have as my china uses shallow bowls, so Chef Enrique Olvera must forgive me on that front.) I’ll admit that parts of each of the recipes can be inconsistent; for example, the salsa verde specifically tells you to brown the garlic to golden brown and then remove it, but doesn’t really guide you on how long the tomatillos, onions, and serrano peppers need to cook in the pan. I chalk this up to the inherent nature of the restaurant cookbook because they just know how long things need to go and don’t think about timing the way we non-chefs would.
Vagaries aside, the dish was pretty damn fast to bring together. As you work on the salsa verde you let the burrata come to room temperature, and then you work on the “weeds” portion. This is simply a little salad of cilantro leaves, microgreens, and julienned onions that are tossed with lime juice and olive oil and salt and placed on top of the burrata that then sits on the salsa verde. The recipe in the book calls for quelitos, which a cursory search* reveals that it’s simply a mix of greens (and often cilantro), so I threw in some torn basil leaves into the mix since my basil plant is going bananas right now. If you do an image search for the dish (it’s served at Cosme in New York), you’ll see that it seems to change based on what’s available, and so I felt that my mix matched up well to the spirit of the dish, if not the letter.
Seriously, though, make this for yourself this summer when cooking things for a long time is the last thing you want to do. It’s a nice twist on the caprese salad if you think about it, and the burrata works so perfectly here. I even fried up a couple of tostadas to go with it, but a handful of your favorite tortilla chips would also do quite nicely in their stead.
Burrata with Salsa Verde and Weeds
slightly adapted from Mexico From The Inside Out by Enrique Olvera
Serves 1 (can be multiplied easily)
- 1 4 oz ball burrata, kept at room temperature 30 minutes before serving
Salsa Verde (makes enough for 4 servings, and so good you’re going to want extra anyway):
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
- 1 pound tomatillos, hulled
- 3 serrano chiles, seeded and chopped
- 1/4 cup white onion, chopped
- 1 sprig cilantro
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- Kosher salt to taste
- 1/4 cup cilantro leaves
- 8 basil leaves, torn
- 1/4 cup microgreens
- 1/4 white onion, julienned
- Juice of a lime
- 1 teaspoon of olive oil
- Kosher salt to taste
Make the salsa verde: Using a tablespoon of the olive oil, fry the garlic in a large skillet until golden brown and then remove to a blender carafe to cool. Add the rest of the oil and cook the tomatillos, onions, and serrano peppers until the onions and peppers are soft and the tomatillos have a slight golden brown color to them. Remove them from the pan to the blender carafe and blend, adding a touch more olive oil if you want (not necessary, but not a bad addition) and then season to taste with kosher salt. Set aside.
Make the weeds: In a small bowl, toss the leaves and greens with the onion, and then dress with the lime juice and olive oil and salt.
Plating! Put a good spoonful of the salsa verde into a nice bowl (low or high) and then place the burrata on top (dab it dry with a napkin if you’d like) and top it all with the weeds. Serve immediately on its own or with some tostadas or good tortilla chips.
*I looked it up on Wikipedia