While we may not get abroad for our summer holidays this year, Gastrono-me’s Gemma Simmonite says there’s no reason to miss out and shares two recipes to give us that hedonistic holiday vibe
It seems our summer is at long last here. We may not have brought football home, we may still be wearing masks despite the ludicrously named Freedom Day having dawned, and we may still not have the confidence to be boarding a plane to the Med just yet, but it’s summer and oh my goodness I think we should enjoy it!
I think we all utterly deserve to don a floaty sarong (men you’re included too, Mr Gastrono-me has a rather fetching range of his own) and to sip a glass of something alcoholic and icy, even if we’re still at home and run the risk of shocking the postman! Yes, laying on a sunbed with the sea or pool tantalisingly close to our toes may be a little trickier to achieve, but we can still be completely and utterly absent whilst devouring some fiction that transports us far away, and we completely deserve an indulgent plate filled with a taste of sunshine, whether making it ourselves or by booking ahead and choosing a fabulous restaurant for that night. After all, with most of Bury St Edmunds restaurants sprawling out onto the cobbles it feels like the Mediterranean anyway.
So yeah, that’s the holiday feeling that we should capture this summer. The hedonistic holiday vibe, the ‘I deserve this time’ feeling is priceless and just because we haven’t boarded a plane and arrived at a sun-drenched location why does it mean we have to miss out just because we’re staying on home soil? Buy that novel or better still buy a pile of them, treat yourself to a bottle of something dry and pale pink, stock the freezer full of lollies to keep little ones happy, and don’t forget some delicious treats for you, too.
My treat, be it summer or winter, is forever cheese, so when I’m thinking of a little, or let’s face it a large indulgence, cheese is my go-to. I think in life we can essentially be split into two camps of people, those camps being chocolate or cheese people. Don’t get me wrong, I adore a bar of Dairy Milk as much as the next person, and don’t even get me started on a Ripple or Aero, but I’d truly sell my soul for a wheel of ripe pungent brie, or in fact give it to the devil for free if he were offering a plump, creamy ball of Burrata!
Burrata, which has only really appeared on UK menus in the last few years, is, shall we say, like mozzarella’s sexier sister and has been rapidly added to my cheese top 10 ever since I first tasted it. In winter at Gastrono-me we indulgently breaded burrata balls, then deep fried them and served them with a tangy rich passata sauce – the molten lava of cheesiness that burst fourth was a cheese lovers nirvana. For our summer menu, we serve our burrata with baby leaves, sugar snap peas, juicy plum tomatoes and drizzled with freshly made pesto. . . it’s the perfect summer starter.
Its name in Italian literally translates to ‘buttery’ due to its indulgent mix of mozzarella and cream. Its structure is made up of a thin outer shell of mozzarella curd, but inside – and this is where the real fun starts – is a soft, stringy, oozy mixture of curds and cream that, at the merest touch of a knife creates a pool of milky loveliness on your plate, perfect for mopping up with bread, drizzling over pasta or even as the topping on a pizza.
Its uses are endless, which is why I simply couldn’t pin myself down to one burrata recipe this month and have chosen to include two. Hey, remember now that this is hedonistic holiday summertime, so you completely deserve two cheese-laden treats, and after all, if there’s a little more wiggle in your walk to the garden paddling pool, who’s gonna get to see it?!
Both dishes have similar ingredients, so by preparing ahead you can spend more time in the garden than in a hot kitchen.
Wishing you all the most wonderful of summer days and nights enjoy every moment x
TAGLIATELLE WITH BURRATA AND BURST VINE TOMATOES
This pasta dish is simplicity itself, and doesn’t need a sauce – by simply tossing the pasta in a little garlic oil and roasting some sun-kissed tomatoes and topping it with burrata, you have a ready-made sauce with none of the effort. The perfect meal to prepare for friends on balmy nights.
3 tablespoons olive oil
A good pinch of rock salt
1 teaspoon oregano
220g cherry tomatoes on the vine, a mix of colours is nice
½ teaspoon of dried chilli flakes
1 tablespoon of garlic oil
1 burrata ball
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
2 large sprigs of basil, torn
1 sprig of fresh parsley, chopped
Cook the tagliatelle in a large pan of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally until cooked al dente.
Meanwhile, pour the olive oil into a roasting tin and heat in a hot oven for approximately 3-4 minutes. When the oil is very hot, carefully remove from the oven and add the tomatoes, sprinkle over the rock salt, oregano and the chilli flakes and roast for 5-8 minutes until just starting to burst.
Drain the pasta and toss with the garlic oil, season with salt and pepper.
When ready to serve, nestle the tomatoes into the pasta and half the burrata cheese between both plates, then scatter with the chopped parsley and torn basil and season with more salt and ground black pepper.
Delicious toasted Italian bread drenched in olive oil and topped with burrata, vibrant roasted peppers and sweet vine-ripened tomatoes, makes the perfect summertime lunch.
Slices of rustic bread – I allowed for 2 slices per person
A burrata ball – 1 ball will serve approximately 2 people
A selection of colourful peppers
A selection of baby vine-ripened tomatoes
A pinch of dried oregano
A pinch of dried red chilli flakes
Extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
Freshly ground black pepper and salt
Fresh basil leaves
Fresh parsley leaves
To prepare the roasted toppings, pour 3 tablespoons of olive oil into a roasting tin and heat in a very hot oven for approximately 3-4 minutes. When the oil is hot enough, carefully remove from the oven and add the tomatoes, peppers and crushed garlic. Grind over a little rock salt, sprinkle with the oregano and the chilli flakes and roast for 5-8 minutes until the tomatoes are just starting to burst, and the peppers are just starting to char.
When the vegetables are ready, pack them in jars and chill until you are ready to transfer to your hamper, remember to include the delicious garlicky juices.
For the toasts, rub them with a little olive oil and grill in a griddle pan on both sides until just starting to char, or toast under a hot grill. Top the bruschetta toasts with torn burrata, next the roasted peppers and tomatoes, then drizzle with a little more olive oil and season to taste.
Gemma is executive chef and co-creator of Gastrono-me, Abbeygate Street, Bury St Edmunds
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