Broccolini salad with cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced red onion, slivers of Cerignola olives, dressed in a sherry vinaigrette and accompanied by burrata cheese, sounds delicious doesn't it? Once again I ask myself, who but Thomas Keller would create such an unusual and wonderful combination of ingredients. The answer is probably no one. Not one of these ingredients outshine the others and yet the flavors blend delightfully.
Peter and I found broccolini several years ago now and this is one green vegetable my vegetable-disliking husband will eat. According to Wikipedia, this is not a GMO (genetically modified organism) but rather a hybrid of broccoli and Chinese broccoli, cultivated back in the early '90s. Today it's grown in California and Arizona and is widely available and often preferred to "regular" broccoli, certainly by my husband who will leave the building when I cook that. Generally we've put broccolini into salads like the Broccolini and Balsamic Vinaigrette from Ina Garten posted here almost two years ago and now this salad from Thomas Keller's Ad Hoc At Home.
Now if you are like me you may be asking yourself, "What is burrata?" Keller explains that it's "a pouch of fresh mozzarella with a creamy center that's very rich and buttery". I generally avoid mozzarella because I just don't get it. The mozzarella I've generally picked up strikes me as entirely flavorless with a rubbery texture that I find very unpleasant. Burrata, however, is a completely different bundle of cheese. It's originally from the Apulia region of Italy, the heel of Italy's boot, and was created to use the otherwise unused scraps leftover from making mozzarella di bufala, the mozzarella we all know well. Burrata is a soft shell of that mozzarella filled with cream and leftover "soft stringy bits of curd" - a little bit of spreadable heaven that can be enjoyed on bread, of course, on pizzas or pasta, or in salads as it is here. Seek it out, it's well worth the journey to a real cheese purveyor.
2 pounds broccolini
3 large cremini mushrooms, about 2 inches in diameter
1 red onion
1 cup black Cerignola olives (we only found green so used them)
About ½ cup Sherry Vinaigrette (See recipe below)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Onw 8-ounce burrata cheese
Extra virgin olive oil
Fleur de sel
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Prepare an ice bath. Set a cooling rack over a baking sheet and line the rack with paper towels.
With a paring knife, cut off the thick ends of the broccolini stalks and peel remaining stalks. Blanch the broccolini in batches in the boiling water until crisp-tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to the ice bath to stop the cooking, and drain on the paper towels.
Cut off the stems of the mushrooms flush with the caps and discard. Cut the caps into paper-thin slices using a Japanese mandoline or other vegetable slicer or by hand, and transfer to a small bowl.
Cut the onion in half through the equator. Slice one half of the onion into paper-thin rings on the mandoline. Select about 20 of the nicest rings, and reserve the remaining onion for another use.
Cut the flesh of the olives away from the pit. Lay the pieces cut-side-down and cut lengthwise into thin slices.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Line up the broccolini stalks side by side on the parchment paper (this will allow you to dress and season the broccolini evenly), drizzle about ¼ cup of the vinaigrette, and toss to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Toss the mushroom slices with about 2 tablespoons of the vinaigrette and season with salt and pepper (do not overdress the mushrooms).
Cut away the top nub of the burrata and put it in a shallow serving bowl that just holds it. Holdinga pair of scissors vertically, snip an X into the top of the burrata, reaching the soft center. Open the top slightly and drizzle olive oil over and around the cheese. Sprinkle with fleur de sel and pepper, and place on a serving platter.
Arrange broccoloni, mushrooms, olives, and onions on the platter.
(Makes 2 cups)
¼ cup sherry wine vinegar
¼ cup red wine vinegar
1 to 1½ cups extra virgin olive oil
Whisk the two vinegars in a bowl, then whisk in about 1 cup of the olive oil in a steady stream. The vinaigrette should look broken (do noy emulsify the dressing). Taste to check the balance of the acid and oil, and add more olive oil as needed. Refrigerate in a covered container for up to 1 month.