Fiddlehead and Burrata Salad

There’s not much technique to this dish. If you can blanch vegetables, you can make this simple but exquisite spring salad. Fiddlehead ferns won’t be easy to track down outside of early spring. If they’re unavailable in your area, you can substitute any fleshy green vegetable, like fava beans or asparagus.

Burrata is a “purse” of mozzarella cheese stuffed with curds and cream. (Shea Gallante, chef of Ciano in New York City, introduced me to burrata at a dinner shortly after we were both named Best New Chefs by Food & Wine magazine. I was immediately seduced by the milky freshness of its delicate curd, which is softer than mozzarella and only slightly firmer than softened butter.) Try to get burrata in individual, 4-ounce balls. If you can find only 1-pound or 8-ounce purses, make sure you divide them evenly so that each diner gets a bit of the precious insides. If you can’t find burrata, fresh mozzarella is a good substitute.

This vinaigrette has a touch of sweetness to help balance out the tartness of the sherry vinegar. It’s great for salads, vegetables, fish, and even meats.–Colby and Megan Garrelts

LC Fiddledeedee Note

Fiddlehead sorta sounds like it could be the punch line to a loony knock, knock joke, don’t you think? “Knock, knock.” “Who’s there?” “Fiddlehead….” Ahem. Anyways, in case you’ve not a clue who this fiddlehead character is, it’s a funny-looking furled curlicue of a fern frond with a sorta green taste and a surprisingly impressive array of nutrients, including minerals, antioxidants, and essential fatty acids. The only trick is nabbing fiddleheads, which are a harbinger of spring and typically available only for a very short time at farmers’ markets and grocery stores that carry foodstuffs from local farmers. Well, that’s not the only trick. The other one is saying its name without cracking up. Or confusing it and saying fiddledeedee by mistake.

Fiddlehead and Burrata Salad Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 20 M
  • 20 M
  • Serves 4

Ingredients

  • For the sherry vinaigrette
  • 1 1/4 cups olive oil
  • 3 shallots, minced
  • 1 1/4 cups sherry vinegar
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • For the fiddlehead and burrata salad
  • 4 ounces fiddlehead ferns
  • 2 ounces fennel bulb, trimmed and thinly shaved
  • 1 pound burrata cheese, preferably four 4-ounce rounds (see headnote above)
  • 4 teaspoons aged balsamic vinegar or arrope (a sweet Spanish grape must syrup)
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tablespoon Sherry Vinaigrette
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Directions

  • Make the sherry vinaigrette
  • 1. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a small sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and cook until soft and translucent, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat and let the shallots cool completely.
  • 2. In a bowl, whisk together the vinegar and sugar until the sugar dissolves. Vigorously whisk in the remaining oil and the shallots until combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste. You should have about 2 cups. (You can cover and refrigerate the vinaigrette for up to 1 week. Let the vinaigrette come to room temperature and whisk to recombine before using.)
  • Make the fiddlehead and burrata salad
  • 3. Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a rolling boil. Meanwhile, fill a bowl halfway with ice water.
  • 4. Blanch the fiddlehead ferns and shaved fennel by adding them to the boiling water for 45 seconds, then transferring the blanched veggies to the ice water until chilled through to stop the cooking which ought to take just a minute or two. Drain and pat dry.
  • 5. Divide the cheese among 4 plates or shallow serving bowls. Drizzle 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar and 1 tablespoon oil over each portion and season with salt to taste.
  • 6. Toss the fiddlehead ferns and fennel with the reserved vinaigrette and season with salt and pepper to taste. Arrange the salad atop the cheese or position it on the side. Serve immediately.
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Testers Choice

Testers Choice
Testers Choice
Lori Widmeyer

Apr 03, 2013

Unable to find any of the title ingredients, we still tried this using asparagus, fresh mozzarella, and balsamic vinegar. The combination of flavors was one of those experiences where you just have to keep taking another bite to taste the soft, creamy cheese topped, the olive oil, the balsamic, all mingled with the taste of the asparagus—a wonderful contrast of flavors and textures that I have to make again. We decided this would also make a great appetizer spread on flatbread. I hope to find fiddleheads and especially burrata to try this recipe again. A simple but very impressive recipe.

Testers Choice
Dan Kraan

Apr 03, 2013

This exceptional recipe is one that really calls out for early summer entertaining. I had no problems finding anything except the arrope. Fortunately, I feel that vincotto is virtually the same, and it’s much more available and works beautifully with the olive oil and burrata. The fiddleheads, with their earthiness, went quite well with the sweetish shaved fennel and the sherry vinaigrette. So you get sweet and savory nuances to complement the burrata plus a variety of textures and flavors in the greens that make this a great light lunch. I’d recommend serving this with small squares of multigrain bread to soak up the flavors on the plate. Also, if you’re thinking of using aged balsamic vinegar, I’d recommend reducing it by half to thicken it somewhat before drizzling it over the cheese.

Testers Choice
Brenda Carleton

Apr 03, 2013

Sherry vinegar is one of my favorites. And I love that the olive oil is heated with the shallots and then cooled, infusing the oil with flavor. This little step that takes 2 extra minutes adds that little something that puts the vinaigrette over the top. I’ve done this with other vinaigrettes, but not with sherry vinegar—until now. Now that I have, it’s my new favorite sherry vinaigrette recipe. I kept tasting it, then tasted it some more, and then a little more to make sure it was as yummy as I thought. I used it on a simple mesclun salad and also drizzled it over roast lamb. Alas, then it was gone. However, I would love to try it on roasted nectarines or plums. It would be delicious drizzled onto roasted butternut squash soup along with some creme fraiche and pepitas, or a tiny bit over spring pea soup. Or, for someone who loves it as I do, as an appertif. :-) Too bad sherry vinegar doesn’t come in gallon containers….

Comments
Comments
  1. Adri says:

    Talk about the perfect Springtime dish! This must be it. Thanks, as always!

    • Renee Schettler Rossi says:

      You’re quite welcome, Adri! We think it’d also be swell with asparagus in place of fiddleheads….

  2. Susan says:

    I’m confused about the vinaigrette recipe – it says it should make about two cups but includes 1 1/4 cups of vinegar, 1 1/4 cups of olive oil and 3/4 cups of sugar. Doesn’t that equal way more than two cups, more like 2 1/2+? And I’ve never made a vinaigrette with equal parts of olive oil and vinegar. Are those measurements correct? Thank you. Susan

    • Renee Schettler Rossi says:

      Susan, you are correct, this is not at all a traditional vinaigrette. Most call for a three to one ratio of vinegar to oil. This one relies on its specific ratios to be less acidic and sweeter than most seeing as it’s designed to enhance the specific flavors of this recipe. And yes, it makes a generous 2 cups, close to 2 1/2 cups or so. The sugar dissolves in the vinaigrette, so while it adds some volume, it’s not an appreciable amount. Do let us know what you think…our testers raved!

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