Monday, February 19, 2018
Cooking

From the food editor: Burrata inspires a simple, indulgent weeknight meal

Like many avid grocery shoppers, I tend to rely on different stores for different kitchen staples.

Publix has its reliable BOGOs; Winn-Dixie has a loyalty card that can save you lots of money if used frequently. And I will make a special trip to Aldi, the no-frills discount German grocery store with about 100 locations in Florida, for a few certain products.

One of them is cheese. The chain carries a surprisingly wide variety, from smoked Gouda rounds to sliced cheddar to seasonal options like cranberry cinnamon goat cheese. And it is typically cheaper — in some cases, a couple of dollars cheaper — than at other stores.

Recently, I stumbled on a product I hadn't seen before in the store's refrigerated section: burrata. It was a 8-ounce container of the BelGioioso brand for $3.99. Never heard of the Italian cheese? It's a shell of mozzarella that's filled with cream and shaped like a ball, and, yes, it tastes as decadent as it sounds.

It came in handy a couple of days later.

As we settle into a new year, I am trying to get back into the cooking groove. Relying on recipes like the 30-minute dinners we shared in last week's Taste section is important. But so is the whimsical meal you can put together with odds and ends from your refrigerator and pantry.

One night last week, I gave up on the idea that I had the time and energy to create a full meal, and instead had cheese for dinner.

Okay, not just cheese.

But the spread was inspired by the gorgeous burrata I had picked up.

I paired with it some tomatoes and pistachios I had in the pantry. I roasted the tomatoes and turned the nuts into a bright pesto with fresh herbs. You could sub plenty of vegetables for the tomatoes, really whatever you have on hand — red peppers, cauliflower even. Just roast them slightly so they aren't as raw and harsh in flavor. Same with the nuts. Pine nuts are used in classic pesto, but walnuts and pistachios bring their own flavors to the party.

If you don't have fresh herbs, they are worth a trip to the store. But even a makeshift pesto of nuts, olive oil and dried spices like salt, pepper and Italian seasoning provides a nice crunchy condiment to this humble meal.

I had what is admittedly a rare loaf of bread on my kitchen counter, so I toasted it and served it as a vessel for the cheese-tomato-pesto plate. I shared this meal with my husband, but could have easily gobbled it up on my own.

Eating is meant to nourish and sustain us, and sometimes you just have to steer into the burrata, and opt for a meal that is as comforting and simple in its delights as it is filling.

Comments
Put Alaskan king crab leg shells to work in a creamy, dreamy bisque

Put Alaskan king crab leg shells to work in a creamy, dreamy bisque

Nothing says indulgence like noshing on some seriously giant Alaskan king crab legs. They’re not just tasty, they’re a low-fat source of protein: One leg has about 25 grams of protein and a host of vitamins and minerals (including sodium, incidentall...
Published: 02/15/18
Avocado toast gets a persimmon twist

Avocado toast gets a persimmon twist

You’ve likely seen persimmon in the grocery store and then shied away from it, not quite sure what to do with it. The most common variety in the United States is the fuyu persimmon, also called Japanese persimmon, and it looks similar to a slightly f...
Published: 02/15/18
Global flavors: Celebrate the Olympics with creative nacho recipes

Global flavors: Celebrate the Olympics with creative nacho recipes

The global experience that is the Olympics has returned, and that gives us a fun opportunity to learn about different countries and parts of the world while watching the triple axels and halfpipes.Food is one way to bring far-off places a little clos...
Published: 02/14/18
Sheet-Pan Chicken With Sweet Potatoes and Peppers recipe

Sheet-Pan Chicken With Sweet Potatoes and Peppers recipe

For most of the year, I hold to the notion that what grows together goes together, especially when it comes to mingling things on a sheet pan.Spring’s tender greens and shoots; summer’s juicy zucchini and tomatoes; fall’s pumpkins and Brussels sprout...
Published: 02/14/18
Five ideas for quick and easy Valentine’s Day desserts

Five ideas for quick and easy Valentine’s Day desserts

Busy crafting a nice dinner for yourself and your boo this evening? Don’t worry, we’ve got dessert covered. Here are five ideas for after-meal sweets, little morsels that come together quickly so you can focus on the main event. Michelle Stark, Times...
Published: 02/14/18

From the food editor: Seared Steaks With Peppers and Almonds are elegant and simple

If you buy good ingredients, half the work is already done. That may sound a little hokey, but it’s true and it’s the cooking advice I need to heed more often in my own kitchen.My husband and I are dining out on Valentine’s Day this year, something w...
Published: 02/13/18
Taste test: red velvet cake mixes

Taste test: red velvet cake mixes

Sorry, restaurateurs, but Valentine’s Day can be one of the worst evenings to eat out — especially if you like great food, prompt service and intimate dining. Restaurants can be crowded and loud, and the staff can be stressed and rushed. So if it’s n...
Published: 02/13/18
Recipe for sweet and sour cauliflower that’s not too sweet

Recipe for sweet and sour cauliflower that’s not too sweet

Washington PostHere’s the truth about sweet and sour dishes: One cook’s sweet is another cook’s sour. That is, the balance between the two is highly subjective. Take lemonade, the most beloved sweet and sour beverage that comes to mind. I prefer it o...
Published: 02/08/18
Stories of food and romance from our readers

Stories of food and romance from our readers

We asked our readers to share a romantic food story or an especially memorable meal with their loved one. Here are some of our favorite submissions. Camping meal with flairA year before we married, Bob and I went on a camping trip to Key West, testin...
Published: 02/07/18
Engagement Chicken may not lead to lasting love, but it does dress to impress

Engagement Chicken may not lead to lasting love, but it does dress to impress

Frankly, the very idea behind Engagement Chicken makes me a little twitchy. It is essentially this: Make this chicken for your boyfriend and he will propose because you have proven you are a true woman now that you know your way around a roasted bird...
Published: 02/07/18