French Fridays with Dorie: mozzarella, tomato and strawberry salad

Another week has flown by, so fortunately, the recipe this week for French Fridays with Dorie is another super simple one: mozzarella, tomato and strawberry salad. The shopping was the hardest part of this recipe. Salad Caprese (tomato and mozzarella salad without strawberry) is a summer staple at my house once the local tomatoes are in, so I have to admit that I was a little skeptical of adding strawberries into an already beloved dish. You never know until you try, so I was game to try Dorie’s version from Around My French Table.

This recipe was so simple that the ingredients are key. Where I live in Massachusetts, tomatoes aren’t truly in season yet. Dorie said to use the best you could get, so I opted for an off-season stand-in, greenhouse-grown tomatoes from Backyard Tomatoes in Maine. Their cocktail tomatoes are a little bigger than cherry tomatoes and have a similar concentrated flavor. While not as good as a late July tomato grown in the sunshine would be, they worked pretty well. And, strawberry season is over in late July. This was the moment for this salad.

Visually, I’d say this salad is gorgeous. The color of the strawberries and tomatoes together was intensely vibrant, and especially striking with the very white cheese. I didn’t have pink peppercorns, but found some pink Hawaiian salt in the pantry, so used that for a sprinkle of extra color. My basil plants are still more like seedlings, but I have other plentiful herbs growing outside the door. I used a sprig of lemon balm (melissa officinalis) which lent a citrusy, floral flavor. A little drizzle of extra virgin olive and balsamic vinegar, and it was salad.

How did it taste? It was definitely interesting. I liked the surprise of the strawberries as I ate. I couldn’t really get my head around the idea of fruit in a savory salad, and even though I was the cook and knew they were there, I just didn’t expect to taste strawberries with the tomatoes.

The star of this dish was the cheese. Dorie mentioned that this would be really good with burrata. Have you ever had burrata? I first had it on a trip to California about three years ago, shortly after seeing it mentioned in a glossy food magazine (Bon Appetit?) and having no idea what it was. It looks like a ball of fresh mozzarella, but when you cut it open, the outer mozzarella shell is filled with creamy, buttery, very soft and rich curds. If you’ve never tried it, you should seek it out.

Burrata doesn’t seem to be widely available commercially in my area, but wanted more! The search was on. I knew of one local cheesemaker who made burrata, but I don’t actually care for the texture of their mozzarella. The past two summers, I have found containers of Bel Gioiosio Wisconsin-made burrata at Costco. It’s not bad, but not as good as my first taste in California. A week or two ago, I was happy to read about a new source, a local small-scale cheesemaker around Boston. The summer issue of Edible Boston has a lengthy article about Mozzarella House and mentioned that their cheese was for sale at a local market in my town (Wilson Farm). I knew I wanted to find this new burrata and try it in this salad.

Honestly, I can’t say enough about the cheese. It was such a treat! It lived up to my first California taste! It totally made this salad sing!

Overall, I thought this salad was interesting to eat and gorgeous to look at. It’s a true seasonal dish. The ingredients are so important that, with strawberries, this is more of once-a-year treat where I live. My husband won’t eat fruit in his savory food, so he didn’t try it, but I think it would be fun to serve to company because of its uniqueness. There’s also no reason not make this with other fruits that complement the creaminess of the cheese. I’m certainly glad that I tried it.

I’m looking forward to seeing what the other FFwD bloggers thought of the salad. With bloggers around the world, it’s not the peak of strawberry season everywhere, so it will be interesting to see what creative twists they’ve come up with. You can check out their links at French Fridays with Dorie. We don’t post the recipes, but do encourage you to buy Dorie Greenspan’s book Around My French Table, and think about joining us on Fridays as we cook through the book together.

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Posted on 24 June 2011, in French Fridays with Dorie, Gardening and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 15 Comments.

  1. Totally in agreement with you on burrata. I bought both burrata and buffalo mozzarella from a local cheesemaker. It came down to taste vs looks…I decided to save the burrata for non-photo session meal. :D

    Isn’t sourcing for the best ingredients you can find part of the fun!

  2. The cheese looks amazing! Beautiful salad – so glad you enjoyed it! :)

  3. Beautiful salad! We love the burrata and thought it worked very well in this salad. We have good strawberries all Summer here and the local tomatoes(my garden) are on the way! I’m glad you enjoyed it, I will be making it again this Summer;-)

  4. This salad was a treat, for sure! Berries are in full swing up in the NE, but tomatoes are truly in the distant horizon :-)

    Looks lovely.

  5. Looks fantastic. Love the close up photo!

  6. Betsy, I’ve never tried Burrata but after reading your post I am going to see if I can find it around here. It sounds so wonderful! Your salad looks great and I’m glad you enjoyed it. My husband tried it and really liked it…but it would never be lunch for him more like an appetizer! Great post! Have a nice week-end!

  7. I’m jealous of your beautiful burrata! This salad is truly a picture of the season.

  8. I love the traditional Caprese Sald, and the addition of strawberries just made it more appealing:) But I am an adventurous spirit:)
    Our strawberries are fragrant, sweet, and beautiful here in Southern California, but you have to go to the farmers markets to find them. Worth it:)

  9. Love your pics. I’m a fellow burrata lover. Looks delicious! Think I will add this to my summer salads.

  10. You’re burrata looks beautiful! (as does your salad). I looked up Paula Lambert’s website, since you referred me to it. My husband had to stop me from instantly enrolling in a cheese of the month club for almost $600. I was THAT close. hee hee! Unfortunately, they don’t appear to sell in my area, but there are stores in San Antonio and Austin that carry it (only 3ish hours away), so if I’m ever up there, I’ll keep an eye out. Thanks for the tip!!

  11. Isn’t it wonderful finding local producers that you love? Edible magazines are a good resource – we’ve got a version here in Vancouver, too.

    I love your post, it’s so thorough and descriptive. I really liked this salad, but couldn’t find much to say. And I particularly love your first photo. The colours of the food look great against that plate.

  12. Wow, I found your quest for the perfect burrata quite inspiring! Looking at your photos, I’d say it was well worth the time. Your salad looks absolutely gorgeous!

  13. Another beautiful salad made with burrata! I’m on a mission to find some…it sounds incredible. And you’ve definitely made the perfect Plateful of Happiness!

  14. Now I am regretting not taking the time to find burrata mozzarella. Sounds so good! And your picture showing the inside of the cheese looks so creamy! I’m going to hunt it down this week and make it again. You’ve inspired me!

  15. I agree that your salad is gorgeous, and it is definitely seasonal – which is why I shall have to try again in the summer.

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