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.
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.
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 my dog’s do when I give him bacon. It was so good, I ate the rest of it right there. Every summer visit thereafter involved me eating as many yellow heirloom tomatoes as I could.
That summer sparked my love for tomatoes, which I still eat multiple times a week all summer long. It’s a summer treat that has earned its 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 the more common hybrid tomatoes.
While they are fairly easy to grow, if you are seeking to buy heirloom tomatoes try your farmer’s market first. Often the only heirlooms I find in grocery stores are organic and come with a hefty price tag to match. While that may be worth it on occasion, growing them in a pot in a sunny location is much more cost effective for a summer filled with tasty heirloom tomatoes.
The dressing on tomato burrata salad is a simple combination of balsamic reduction and extra virgin olive oil. While balsamic reductions are gaining shelf space in many grocery stores across the country, you can also make it from a standard American balsamic vinegar.
Simply simmer balsamic vinegar 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. While all burrata is mozzarella, 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. If you cannot find it, soft mozzarella is the next best thing.
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 approve of 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.
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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. 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.
For more delicious examples of how to use heirloom tomatoes see my Homemade Spaghetti Sauce, Tomato Basil Bisque, or Veggie Couscous Salad. Serve this salad alongside Filet Mignon with Peach Mango Cilantro Sauce or Grilled Maple Mustard Chicken, or for more salad ideas, see all of my salad recipes.
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- 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 Serving Size: 1 salad
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 271 Total Fat: 20g Saturated Fat: 6g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 14g Cholesterol: 22mg Sodium: 342mg Carbohydrates: 16g Fiber: 2g Sugar: 12g Protein: 8g