There’s nothing as fresh and healthy as a nice homemade meal that uses local products and specialties. Living in Nice, France, we are very close to our Italian neighbours. So close that one third of what we eat on a daily basis is similar to the food in Italy.
Only we don’t have the exact same meal structure. In France, we have entrée (something small, light and fresh), main dish, cheese and dessert. Italians have entrée, primo piatto (oftentimes pasta or risotto), secondo piatto (meat/fish and a vegetable), and dessert. We all have a cup of Espresso to finish it off though!
Did you know that the County of Nice was once taken by Italy (along with the Duchy of Savoie) and was definitely given back to France in 1860 under the reign of Napoleon III ? That was only 160 years ago, and as of now, frontier cities of both sides have countless citizens living and/or working in their neighbour’s country. So we still do have our fair share of similarities across the borders.
Last year, when I visited Tuscany with my sister, a little bit more far off the border, we once tasted something we never had before. A warm pizza with roasted cherry tomatoes on top, and the addition of a cold fresh ball of Mozzarella Burrata. The combination of warm and cold added to the creaminess of the mozzarella was just marvelous. Since then, I have been hunting for the best Burrata in Nice, and when I eventually found it, I picked a dish to cook that would allow the same combination of warm veggies against cold Burrata.
This dish is composed of grilled eggplant slices, roasted cocktail-type tomatoes with garlic, served warm along with a cold and extra creamy ball of Mozzarella Burrata and homemade garlic and herbs breadcrumbs, that I made with leftovers of my delicious weekly ‘challah bread. There is no other final seasoning to the dish than the tomato juices from the roasting process, induced by heat, salt, pink pepper, olive oil and black balsamic vinegar. This dish litterally is to die for. Please cook it and let me know.
- 12 cocktail-type or cherry tomatoes
- 2 Mozzarella Burrata (I like the brand Zanetti)
- 1 eggplant
- a small piece of dry bread
- 5 garlic cloves (4 crushed, 1 minced)
- Olive oil
- Balsamic vinegar
- a bit of butter
- salt and pepper
- Grana Padano or Parmiggiano Reggiano
- Basil leaves
- Preheat the oven on 190* C (or 395 F)
- Place all the tomatoes with their stalk in an oven-baking dish. Crush 4 garlic cloved and add to the dish. Salt and pepper, then drizzle with 2 tbsp of olive oil and no more than 1 tbsp of balsamic vinegar.
- Roast during about 35 minutes (+/- 5mn) until all tomatoes have blistered.
- In the meantime, slice the eggplant and grill them on both side in a pan with a bit of olive oil and salt. Reserve.
- Mince the last garlic clove and start frying it very slowly starting on a cold pan, with a bit of olive oil but without letting the garlic brown (about 1 minute or so). During that minute, cut the bread in small dices, then place them in the pan. Salt and pepper, add a tiny bit of olive oil if the pan is dry and combine everything along with a bit of butter.
- When the breadcrumbs are nice and golden, reserve on the side. While still lukewarm, add 1 tbsp of Grana Padano or Parmigiano Reggiano, and chop some basil on top. Combine it all.
- Plate the dish: If you like green leaves, add some nice and a bit bitter arugula on the bottom of the deep plate. Layer some eggplants, then the tomatoes (with or without the stalk).
- Pour the juices over, then add the breadcrumbs all over, and finish with the display of the Mozzarella Burrata (I recommend keeping it in the fridge until the last minute, and handling it very carefully to prevent it from opening up and spreading its cream from heaven).
Here is a last picture of the dish like I plated it the first time I made it. The breadcrumbs were bigger than on today’s pictures, and way better in taste as it added some crunchiness to the overall dish. Also, there was more arugula salad, and that added some flavor too!
Created and Written by Sophie Rebibo-Halimi. © 2020 All Rights Reserved.