Last year while looking for apartments in Charlotte, my mom and I, tired after a long day of searching, stopped by Wolfgang Puck Pizza Bar in South Park for an early dinner. The apartments we had looked at last were in the same shopping center and our hotel was too, so it was the perfect place to get a bite to eat. While going over prospective apartments, we decided to order the prosciutto and burrata appetizer and some very strong drinks. Burrata is a cheese with an outer “shell” of mozzarella and filled with both mozzarella and cream making it creamy and delicious. My mom and I had burrata before in San Diego and loved it, so we knew this was also going to be good.
It came to the table and it was gone within seconds. We couldn’t get enough of the creamy cheese and the sprinkle of balsamic vinegar mixed with the fresh arugula. It was perfect. Though Wolfgang’s (included the link because if you’re like me, you love to read menus) has many good appetizers – the mussels and the calamari are to die for – it’s the proscuitto and burrata that really stands out. Now that I live in the same complex (I had decided the night we first ordered the appetizer that it’s where I wanted to live) and can just walk over there, it’s a frequent spot that I take out of town guests and we always order this appetizer – never anything else.
Burrata has since been my favorite go-to cheese for appetizers and I love that it’s so affordable at Trader Joe’s. I found a variation of this recipe on Martha Stewart and since it’s tomato season, I knew I had to try it. The fresh tomatoes tossed in the olive oil and basil and the crispy eggplant as the “bread” to spread the cheese and tomatoes on, it’s so good. While this is considered an appetizer, it is definitely substantial enough to make a whole meal out of.
Fried Eggplant, Tomatoes, and Burrata
(Adapted from Martha Stewart)
1 small eggplant, cut into 1/2 inch discs
Flour, for dredging
2 large eggs, whisked
1/2 cup panko
1/2 cup plain bread crumbs (you can use 1 cup of one or the other, but I liked the combination)
Salt and pepper
1 small box of cherry tomatoes, halved
5 leaves of basil, chopped or torn, plus more for garnish
Vegetable oil, for frying
Prepare the dredging station. On a plate, place the eggplant discs, and in three separate bowls place the flour in one, the whisked eggs in another, and mix together the panko and the bread crumbs and add salt and pepper in another bowl. Take one piece of eggplant and dip it in the flour, then the eggs, and finally the bread crumbs. Place on a plate and repeat with remaining pieces of eggplant. Refrigerate for at least 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl mix the cherry tomatoes, basil, and a drizzle of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and toss. Set in the refrigerator until ready to use.
Heat a large skillet over medium high heat and add enough vegetable oil to cover the bottom of the pan. When the oil is hot enough, add the slices of eggplant, being careful not to overcrowd the pan. Fry on both sides until golden brown, about 2-3 minutes per side. Remove from the oil and salt both sides of the eggplant. Fry the rest of the eggplant in batches until all have been browned.
To assemble the platter, place the burrata cheese in the middle of a serving board or large plate. Surround with the cherry tomatoes and tuck in the crispy eggplant around the tomatoes and cheese. Garnish with basil leaves. Serve immediately while the eggplant is still crispy and warm.