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There is absolutely nothing wrong with setting a ball of burrata on a plate, some crackers around it, regular or pickled raisins if you've got them, and calling it an appetizer. In fact, when you're just inviting some friends over for wine, the more laid-back the food, the better. (In other words, you will act a lot less uptight, because you're not worried about whether people will like your food, and thus make for much better company.)
But what if you could make a tasty, non-anxiety–inducing appetizer that looked like this?
Thanks to Sabrina Ghayour's new, entertaining-focused cookbook Feasts, I found just the recipe. It involves burning—yes, burning—segmented oranges and topping them, plus the burrata, with a handful of ingredients ubiquitous in Persian cuisine (nigella seeds, pomegranates, pistachios). The results are phenomenal, and everything is there for a reason. The brightness of the fruit strikes up an unlikely friendship with the grittiness of the char, the nuts, and the seeds. And then all of it is mellowed out with fresh mint. How long has it been since I last mentioned the blob of soft, salty cheese?
I asked Ghayour how I could keep serving this after oranges go out of season (they're not technically in season now, but hey, it's cold). "The best fruits to pair with burrata are things with a little tartness or acidity to them," she says. I am fully planning on trying this out with peaches and nectarines later in the summer. Nigella (also called black onion or kalonji) seeds are available at most Indian or Middle Eastern grocery stores, and you can sometimes find them at Whole Foods or Walmart. Buying them online is a good option. (If you need to skip them, the appetizer will still be good and still take 10 minutes to make.)
Here are some tips on making the process even speedier:
To chop the pistachios, put them in a Ziploc bag and bash them with the back of any heavy jar, like a jar of tomato sauce. (It's better to do this before your guests arrive.)
So go ahead and invite friends over, if only as a not-so-thinly veiled excuse to eat a blob of cheese in the most stylish, flavorful way imaginable.
- 1 orange or blood orange
- 1 splash extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 pound ball of burrata
- 1/3 cup pomegranate seeds
- 1/4 cup pistachios, roughly chopped
- 2 pinches nigella seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon sumac
- 1 or 2 pinches sea salt fakes and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 handful mint leaves, torn
What's your last-minute appetizer? Let us know in the comments!