Mozzarella on the outside, lush ricotta on the inside, I could eat burrata with a fork and knife for dinner with every day of the summer and never grow tired of it. I mean, if money was no object. In reality, it’s a bit too much of a luxury to pull off on a daily basis, so instead, I try to find ways to stretch burrata into a foundation for larger dishes. This leads me to my favorite burrata move, the one that if you’re not doing yet, I need you to start right now. We’re basically going to butterfly it, or open it like a book. Cut the burrata down the middle, but stop halfway, turn your knife to the side, cut almost out to the edge of the ball, then flip this outward. Repeat on the second side. Nudge the ricotta center a little flatter. Drizzle it with olive oil and flaky sea salt and then let it hang out and warm up while you figure out what you’re going to scatter on top. Burrata was meant to be eaten at room temperature, where its complex flavors and creaminess come through the loudest. There’s an economy to it, too; instead of feeling like we never have enough, every bite on the plate gets its own generous swoop of the best part.
Until recently, I pretty much only used this method as a vehicle for tomatoes. But in Where Cooking Begins, the first cookbook from Bon Appétit food director, Carla Lalli Music, I spotted a recipe for sugar snap peas in which half are left raw and the other are grilled and knew it was exactly what I wanted to do to hold me over until perfect tomatoes arrive. It’s such a treat. Sugar snap peas — unlike regular peas, and what makes them so special — require no cooking. When they’re in season, as they are right now, they’re perfectly sweet and crunchy right from the market. But they’re really good lightly charred on a grill, or in a hot skillet, shishito pepper-style. Why choose? This recipe gives us both.
Music’s recipe calls for buffalo mozzarella and grilled bread, but I used burrata and pan-fried breadcrumbs but I know she wouldn’t mind because this is very much the energy, the message of the book — to go with the flow. She wants your cooking to begin when you think about what you’re craving, what calls to you at the store or market, the pantry items you keep stocked and then cook vs. setting off to the store with a rigid recipe in mind and hoping you’ll find what you need. I find this quite inspiring and refreshing as a beginner cookbook, a contrast to cookbooks that focus on a core set of recipes or formulas to know when cooking. (There’s no wrong or right of course, just what speaks to you.) Music walks us through six essential cooking techniques that have been around forever and says that if you accept her assurances that all foods can be cooked in a “finite, manageable number of ways, you’ll never again find yourself hesitating over an enticing but unfamiliar ingredient.”
One year ago: Watermelon Cucumber Salad
Two years ago: Crispy Spiced Lamb and Lentils
Three years ago: Charred Eggplant and Walnut Pesto Pasta Salad
Four years ago: Saltine Crack Ice Cream Sandwiches
Five years ago: Pasta and Fried Zucchini Salad
Six years ago: Bowties with Sugar Snaps and Lemon
Seven years ago: Strawberries and Cream Biscuits
Eight years ago: Roasted Peppers with Capers and Mozarella
Nine years ago: Pecan Cornmeal Butter Cake
Ten years ago: Pesto Potato Salad with Green Beans
Eleven years ago: Breakfast Apricot Crisp and Dead Simple Slaw
Twelve years ago: Black-Bottom Cupcakes
And for the other side of the world:
Six Months Ago: Cozy Cabbage and Farro Soup
1.5 Years Ago: Split Pea Soup
2.5 Years Ago: Homemade Irish Cream
3.5 Years Ago: Pull-Apart Rugelach
4.5 Years Ago: Gingerbread Biscotti
Burrata with Charred and Raw Sugar Snap Peas
I finished the peas with more olive oil, mint (or basil), and lemon, and used Music’s suggestion of adding more heat through Calabrian chiles in oil (dried red pepper flakes work too). This alone makes a fancy salad kind of meal, or but grilled chicken sausages or a sheet pan of your favorite meatballs would make it more substantial.
If you can’t find burrata, look for buffalo mozzarella, and if you can’t find that, just fine the freshest that you can. You might find that you want up to a pound of it as it doesn’t spread out into as many bites as burrata. Slice it open (or into a few thick slices, laid out on a plate), and let it warm up if you’ve got the time. It makes a big difference. “In a perfect world, mozzarella will never have been refrigerated, but these are imperfect times,” Music explains, to my delight.
- 1 8-ounce ball burrata
- Olive oil, for drizzling and brushing
- Flaky sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Half a lemon
- 1 pound sugar snap peas
- 1 to 2 thick-cut slices crusty bread (I’m using miche here)
- A handful of mint and basil leaves, torn or thinly sliced
- Chiles in oil or red pepper flakes to serve
Butterfly your burrata: Drain burrata and gently dab dry on a paper towel. Place on serving platter. Begin to cut in half vertically (i.e. into left and right halves) but stop halfway and turn knife sideways (in either direction) and cut out to wall of burrata but not through. Use knife to flip it open onto the plate, then spread the center cream a bit into a flat layer. Repeat on second side. Drizzle lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with flaky salt. Let sit at room temperature while you prepare everything else, or up to an hour, if you have the time. Taking the chill off it is the key for the creamiest insides and best flavor.
Trim/de-string your sugar snaps and place in a large bowl. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil (or more, to taste), many grinds of black pepper, and sea salt and toss to evenly coat.
Grate or shred your bread with your fingers into coarse crumbs. I omitted my crusts because they were stale and very dark. You want a little shy of 1 cup.
Grill instructions: Prepare your grill for medium-high direct heat.
Make the crumbs on the grill: Place a small cast iron frying pan on a medium-high heat on your grill and place the torn bread and a glug of olive oil inside, enough to dampen the crumbs. Season with salt and cook the crumbs, stirring from time to time, until they’re golden and crisp. About a minute before they reach the perfect color, finely grate the zest of half a lemon over them and stir to heat and combine. Set crumbs aside.
Grill your sugar snaps: Place half your prepared sugar snaps in on a wire rack or grill basket on a grill and grill, tossing occasionally, until charred in spots, about 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer back to bowl with remaining raw sugar snaps and toss to combine.
Stove instructions: Make the crumbs on the stove by following the above instructions but use a large, heavy frying pan over medium-high heat, the same one you’ll use again for the sugar snaps. Scoop the crumbs out into a bowl to cool.
Blister your sugar snaps on the stove: Heat the large, heavy frying pan you used for the crumbs over high heat. Add half of prepared sugar snaps and cook, tossing occasionally, until charred in spots, about 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer back to bowl with remaining raw sugar snaps and toss to combine.
To finish: Scatter charred and raw sugar snap mixture over butterflied burrata along with crumbs. Drizzle with more olive oil, flaky sea salt. Add mint or basil leaves and serve with chiles in oil or red pepper flakes to taste.
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