Tomato burrata salad is an elevated take on your classic caprese salad. It features vine ripe heirloom tomatoes, creamy whole milk burrata cheese, sweet basil, balsamic reduction, and extra virgin olive oil. Whether you want a light meal for days when it’s just too hot to cook, or a delicious first course for a summer celebration, tomato burrata salad is a palate pleaser. Read on for my tips on how to make your own balsamic reduction, learn the difference between burrata and mozzarella, and get the scoop on why I went the uncommon route of serving this salad on a bed of greens.
The flavor of vine ripened tomatoes will always and forever take me back to summer days in West Virginia and my grandparents garden. During one visit, my grandfather introduced me to heirloom tomatoes. He was harvesting all kinds of vegetables for the family meal, while I was being a nosey 8 or 9 year old asking all kinds of questions.
I had never seen an heirloom tomato, let alone a yellow one. When I asked what it was he pulled out his pocket knife and sliced off a hunk for me to try. I think my eyes lit up the way Tuck’s do when I give him bacon. It was so good, I ate the rest of it like one would eat an apple. Every summer visit thereafter involved me eating as many yellow heirloom tomatoes as I could.
That summer sparked my love for tomatoes, a summer treat I eat multiple times a week all summer long in things like Homemade Spaghetti Sauce, Tomato Basil Bisque, or Veggie Couscous Salad. A summer treat, that I am currently growing in a pot on my back deck because my garden is still a work in progress. A summer treat that has earned the spotlight in this tomato burrata salad.
Tomatoes: What makes an heirloom an heirloom?
An heirloom tomato is a non-hybrid tomato that grows from seeds passed down from season to season. While it lacks the uniform color, shape, and size of your standard grocery store hybrid, it more than makes up for it in flavor. Heirloom tomatoes come in many colors, shapes, and sizes. They can be small, like cherry tomatoes, but some can grow as large as two pounds. The flavors found in heirloom tomatoes are unique to their own variety, but they all tend to be meatier, juicier, and more flavorful than more common hybrid tomatoes.
This year I am growing a variety called prudens purple, which are the tomatoes in these photos. Since mine were grown in pots, they are a little stunted in size, but all there in flavor. The prudens purple, while not actually purple in color, is a meaty tomato that is not too acidic, not too sweet, juicy, and full of flavor. At the end of the growing season I will harvest the seeds to use for next year.
If you are seeking out heirloom tomatoes in stores, try your farmer’s market first or look in the organic section of your grocery store. Yes, organic heirlooms are going to be more expensive than your standard hybrid tomato, but there is a night and day difference in the flavor. While the cost isn’t always worth it in dishes with cooked tomatoes, in a caprese salad or tomato burrata salad where the tomato shines, I think it is worth the additional cost.
The dressing on tomato burrata salad is a simple combination of balsamic reduction and extra virgin olive oil.
If you’ve ever been to Italy and tried authentic balsamic vinegar, one of the first things you’ll notice is that it doesn’t have the same flavor or consistency that you find from balsamics here in the states. In comparison, most balsamics you find here are thin and lack the punch of flavor you find in an authentic balsamic vinegar.
If you have an authentic balsamic, by all means, use it as is. If you don’t, I encourage you to pick up one of the balsamic reductions that are gaining shelf space in many grocery stores across the country, or make a balsamic reduction for yourself.
To make it yourself, simply simmer balsamic on the stove over a medium low flame until it reduces by a half or a third and takes on a syrupy texture. Note I said simmer, not boil. You don’t want it to burn and you can’t tell by color because balsamic has such a dark color to begin with. You’ll know it’s done when it coats the back of a spoon.
Caution: let it cool before you taste it!! Hot vinegar, especially in a concentrated form, can be a shock to your palate and will clear your sinuses. Let it cool before eating.
What’s the difference between Mozzarella and Burrata
A standard caprese salad, or insalata caprese, uses standard mozzarella cheese. This tomato burrata salad, uses a not so standard burrata cheese. All burrata is mozzarella, but not all mozzarella is burrata. Now that we have that cleared up, let me see if I can explain.
Mozzarella is a soft, white, cheese, native to Italy. You can buy it in most grocery stores. It’s often sold in small, medium, or large balls that are packed in a saltwater or whey brine. Most caprese salads use this type of soft, high moisture mozzarella. You can also buy a low moisture form of mozzarella. It’s a denser cheese that is often shredded for pizza or pasta dishes. Being a very basic cheese, you can even make mozzarella at home with this 30 minute mozzarella recipe.
Burrata is what you get when you stuff mozzarella with more mozzarella and cream. During the stretching phase of the mozzarella making, a hunk of mozzarella is stretched into a pouch of sorts. They then fill this pouch with leftover mozzarella and top it off with cream before sealing it shut. It has a very creamy, almost buttery consistency when sliced into. Like most fresh mozzarella, it’s packaged in a saltwater or whey brine. You can find in the specialty cheese section of your grocery store.
Greens or No Greens?
The last thing that makes this salad a bit different than your standard caprese salad is the bed of greens. While they do provide a beautiful pop of color, that isn’t the only reason they are there. They also provide the perfect way to get every last bite of flavor from the plate to your mouth.
Between the juiciness of the tomatoes, the creaminess of the burrata, and the remnants of the olive oil and balsamic reduction, this salad leaves you with a wonderfully delicious tomato balsamic vinaigrette on your plate.
While I totally condone licking the plate clean, that doesn’t always fly at the dinner table, so I serve mine on a bed of salad greens. While any greens would work, I would find tender young greens work best. I used a combination of red leaf butter lettuce and baby spinach. Alternatively, you could serve this salad with a crusty baguette for wiping the plate, but I love any excuse to eat more greens.
RECOMMENDED KITCHEN TOOLS
We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. Thank you for being a part of Renee Nicole’s Kitchen. For more recommended kitchen tools, check out my Kitchen Essentials page.
Tomato Burrata Salad Recipe
The amounts in this recipe are the amounts I use and provide a pretty good balance of flavor. However, like most salads, you can adjust these amounts to suit your own tastes. Love balsamic enough that you can eat it by the spoonful? Double it. Can’t stand the stuff? Omit it. Want to swap the greens for basil? Do it!! (Just don’t forget to come back and comment to let me know how it turned out!)
Prepare this tomato burrata salad right before you serve it. You can prep the tomatoes in advance, but I wouldn’t plate it until you are ready to eat. The recipe as written is for four people, but you can easily adjust it depending on how many you are serving. If you have half of a ball of burrata leftover, don’t put it back in the liquid it came in. Instead place it directly into a resealable container and refrigerate. Once open, burrata is best within 24 hours, but use your own discretion. If it’s been more than a day, check it before you use it.
- 1 lb heirloom tomatoes
- 2 cups salad greens
- 4 ounces burrata cheese
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup balsamic reduction*
- 12 medium basil leaves
- flake sea salt
- coarse ground pepper
Chop the tomatoes into even sized pieces, about 1/2" to 3/4" chunks. Slice the burrata balls in half. Chiffonade the basil by rolling the leaves together then thinly slicing with a sharp knife.
- Start with a base of salad greens, about 1/2 cup per person.
- Place a half burrata ball in the center of the salad greens, gently flipped out to expose the creamy center.
- Arrange 4 ounces of chopped tomatoes around the burrata, about 1/2 cup per person.
- Drizzle on 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 1 tablespoon of balsamic reduction on each salad.
- Sprinkle with basil, sea salt, and ground pepper to taste.
- Serve immediately.
*To make your own balsamic reduction, start with with 3/4 cup of balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan. Reduce by simmering over a medium low heat until reduced to 1/2 - 1/3. The final sauce should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon and have a syrup-like consistency.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 4
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 260