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campanelle pasta with burrata, spinach, lemon and pine nuts

March 15, 2010

This pasta was a wonderfully quick and delicious dinner that I wish I had made on a weekday and not on a weekend.  I enjoy making slow meals on weekends, enjoying the time that I can dedicate to just one meal.  Something that it’s a reality 5 days a week.   But I will definitely be making it again.  It was good, but I think it could be great.   Of course, it may be awhile before I do that because I fear that I may be on the verge of developing an addiction.

Before going into the recipe, I must confess that before 2 weeks ago, I had no idea what burrata was.   I was an Italian major and lived in Italy, never heard of it.  Then, upon seeing it in a recipe in the L.A. Times I did a little research because any cheese that translates to “buttered” is worth looking into.

Wikipedia defines burrata as “a fresh Italian cheese, made from mozzarella and cream. The outer shell is solid mozzarella while the inside contains both mozzarella and cream, giving it an unusual, soft texture.”  Walking around one Saturday (aka only day to do our errand running in Switzerland) we stopped into the food hall of Globus–highly recommended for anyone visiting Switzerland.   And wouldn’t you know.  Burrata cheeese.  10 francs and 30 minutes later, I arrived home the new, proud owner of a hunk of cheese.

I unwrapped the unnecessarily fussy packaging that is distinctly un-Swiss and found this.

Weird.  It looked and felt like a water balloon gone wrong.  I carried on with my prep work and as everything was starting to come together and I was boiling the water for the pasta, I decided to cut into it to try a piece.  Maybe just a little on a piece of bread with olive oil, salt and pepper.  And this happened.

This is not what I was expecting.  The other thing I wasn’t expecting was how simple yet wonderful this cheese was.  As a creamier version of fresh mozzarella, there isn’t exactly a taste explosion, but it has the mildest nutty flavor and with a little olive oil, salt and pepper, it comes to life.  One piece became 2 pieces, which became 3, which prompted mean to remove the cheese from the room until dinner was ready.  I shared this discovery with my friends on Facebook and I  immediately received 2 comments expressing horror that I hadn’t discovered this earlier.

The weird thing?  They were both from L.A.. Why is it that this little ball of goodness has reached Lady GaGa levels of fame in Los Angeles and I was completely in the dark?!  I can’t really answer that question, and I’m not sure I care to.  I’m in on the burrata craze and that’s all that matters!

Campanelle pasta with burrata, spinach, lemon and pine nuts (say that 3 times fast)
adapted from Bon Appetit

KC note: Because I forgot to pick up fresh spinach at the store, I used frozen spinach.  While it was still good, I really do believe that this was the difference between a good dish and a great dish.  Make sure to have fresh spinach on hand.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound campanelle  or fusilli pasta
  • 2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon peel
  • 1 6-ounce package baby spinach (about 4 cups)
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted
  • 1 pound burrata cheese room-temperature

Directions

  1. Cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally.
  2. Meanwhile, melt butter with oil in heavy large skillet over medium heat.
  3. Add garlic; sauté until soft, about 2 minutes. Add lemon juice and lemon peel.
  4. Drain pasta; transfer to large bowl.
  5. Place spinach atop hot pasta. Pour hot lemon mixture over spinach.
  6. Toss until spinach is wilted, about 1 minute.
  7. If the spinach is not wilted enough, try adding a little pasta water to bring it down further.
  8. Divide pasta among plates.
  9. Top with burrata cheese, pine nuts, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and serve.
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