Heirloom Tomatoes + Burrata Cheese + Marcona Almonds = Amazing Salad

Forgive me, but I'm going to be controversial for a minute. I'm not a huge fan of chain restaurants. There, I said it. Before you get angry and start defending the "Cheesecake Factory/California Pizza Kitchen/insert chain restaurant here" let me explain. So many chain restaurants have huge, static menus, lack any resemblance of fresh, seasonal ingredients and don't show any creativity in their dishes. When I see that, it's a huge red flag that these restaurants lack the passion that I love to see from my favorite restaurants and chefs. While I certainly cannot say for sure, I would imagine they're not visiting the farmer's markets in the mornings, hand-picking the ripest heirloom tomatoes, juicy peaches and fragrant basil to use in dishes on that night's menu.

Again, before you get mad, let me be clear. Of course not ALL chain restaurants lack the inspiration and passion for truly creative, fresh and flavorful food. Case in point: Gulfstream, owned by the Hillstone Group, which also owns and operates Houstons, Bandera and R+D Kitchen. Several months ago I posted a recipe to Houston's famous Evil Jungle Thai Steak salad, one of my all-time favorite sweet, spicy and savory salads filled with medium rare steak, soba noodles, mint, cabbage, tomatoes, peanut and chili sauce. It's amazing. But that's another post.

Houston's Evil Jungle Thai Steak Salad
Today I want to talk about Gulfstream's seasonal heirloom tomato salad, topped with oozing, salty burrata cheese, crunchy Marcona almonds, a rich balsamic vinegar reduction and drizzle of green, almost grassy extra virgin olive oil.

Heirloom Tomatoes
Photo courtesy of GourmetGalleryWaco.com

Burrata Cheese
Photo courtesy of SaraRosso.com

Marcona Almonds
A trip to Whole Foods this afternoon inspired me to try my hand making this incredible salad at home, after a huge pile of red, green and yellow heirloom tomatoes caught my eye. I knew that Whole Foods also sold burrata cheese from Angelo & Franco, one of my favorite cheese companies, so I grabbed a red and yellow tomato, a container of burrata cheese, a small box of Marcona almonds (a flat, intensely crunchy almond from Spain) and some arugula, for some greens and good measure. At home, I chopped the tomatoes and sprinkled them with salt and pepper, pulled apart one small ball of burrata cheese with my fingers (hey, you've got to get dirty in the kitchen sometimes!) and layered it among the tomatoes, dropped a few almonds on the pile and finished it off with a few drizzles of an Italian balsamic reduction (balsamic vinegar boiled down until it thickens into a syrup-like consistency), extra virgin olive oil and some chopped arugula. Dinner, done and done. It was just amazing and dare I say it, better than Gulfstream's version.

My version of Gulfstream's heirloom tomato & burrata salad
I don't have an official recipe for this; I just eyed it. But if you'd like something more official, here's my best guess.

Heirloom Tomato + Burrata Salad
Makes two servings
  • Two medium-sized heirloom tomatoes (mix the colors for a beautiful result)
  • One container of Angelo & Franco Burrata Cheese (contains two balls)
  • 20 Marcona almonds (found in most specialty stores, or in Whole Foods' specialty section)
  • Drizzle of balsamic reduction
  • Drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt, to taste
  • Freshly-ground black pepper, to taste
  • ~3 tablespoons chopped arugula (or simply rip it with your fingers and sprinkle on top)
Wash heirloom tomatoes and cut into large chunks. They don't have to uniform; in fact, they're more beautiful when they're totally different shapes and sizes. Separate on two plates. Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Take one ball of burrata cheese and pull apart with your fingers. Spread the cheese around the plate, throughout the tomatoes. Drizzle balsamic reduction and extra virgin olive oil over tomatoes and cheese. Drop about 10 almonds around plate. Top with a a tiny bit of arugula and serve. Just make sure to have these ingredients on hand quite often, because people are going to request it. A LOT. :)


  1. What a very nice looking salad. And I agree with you on your restaurant take, why can't they do more seasonal dishes or how about something fresh.

  2. Our biggest beef when we go out to eat with friends, is that they usually choose the chains/franchises. We love to scour around a city and find a locally owned place with a fresh eclectic menu! This is my first time to your blog...will look around!

  3. This is a great breakdown of what seems like a well-thought out salad. I'm picking up burrata today to go with way to many heirlooms I picked up. But I think the almonds are a nice touch to enhance a tomato/balsamic/cheese combo. Thanks for pulling apart the recipe (and the cheese).


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