Lentils with Burrata and Basil Oil


During the four years our daughter lived in London, we visited often, using London as a springboard to explore nearby countries, like Ireland, Wales, and Scotland. We also visited areas in England as well, such as the Cotswolds, the Lake District, the Isle of Wight, and Cornwall.

On a couple of these trips, we brought along not only our travel-loving daughter, but also a good friend of hers – another American living in London. This young lady was such a delight – always happy and appreciative. Plus she had really good taste in food, so she fit in with us all!

As a thank you for these vacations, she gifted me the book Polpo – a Venetian Cookbook, by Russell Norman, published in 2012.

The book is fabulous – great stories, and great recipes from a lover of Venice, who owns and runs the restaurant Polpo, in London.

I learned something about burrata from the book. By the author: “Burrata is often confused with mozzarella but they are not the same. Burrata is made in Puglia with milk from Razza Podolica cows (not buffalo), and with added cream, so it is softer and more moist than mozzarella. Burrata’s creamy sweet consistency is the perfect foil to an array of ingredients. This recipe combines it with lentils – a heavenly marriage. Make sure your burrata is of the finest quality and at room temperature.”

And speaking of that, for the first time ever, my cheese shipment from IGourmet was a melted disaster. No, it didn’t help that the temperatures were in the 90’s in early September, but what was supposed to be overnight shipping, became 3 days. The burrata was packaged two to a plastic tub, and two out of three tubs I’d ordered leaked completely. They all had basically “cooked” in the hot box and were hard as rocks.

Of course IGourmet’s customer service was apologetic and I was credited, but it was all around a sad day. I proceeded with this recipe, because it’s not the author’s fault that I received cooked, separated, and curdled burrata in the mail. The recipe will be fabulous with good burrata.

Lentils  with  Burrata  and  Basil  Oil

Leaves from a bunch of basil
Flaky sea salt
Black pepper
Extra virgin olive oil
400 g Puy lentils
2 large carrots, finely chopped
3 celery sticks, finely chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
5 sprigs of thyme, leaves removed and chopped
4 tablespoons mustard dressing
6 burrata balls

First make the basil oil by placing most of the basil leaves in a food processor, reserving a few of the smaller prettier ones for decorating at the end. Add a little salt, pepper, and enough olive oil to make a thin sauce. Whizz for a few seconds and then set aside.

Put the lentils in a saucepan with enough cold water to cover them by about 7 cm. (I used chicken broth.) Don’t add salt at this state as this will toughen the lentils. Bring to a boil and cook for about 45 minutes. Keep checking them – they need to still hold a small bite. when they are done, drain, refresh in cold water, drain again, and set aside.

Now, in a large heavy-based pan sweat the vegetables in a few good glugs of olive oil with the thyme leaves, a large pinch of salt, and a twist of ground black pepper. When the vegetables are softened and translucent, add the cooked lentils and a splash of water or broth to stop them sticking to the bottom of the pan.

Mustard Dressing
Any basic French vinaigrette will substitute

To finish the dish, add 4 tablespoons of the mustard dressing to the lentils, check the seasoning, and spoon onto a large warm plate. (Because my husband hates vinegar, I used a good garlic-infused oil in the lentils.)

Then tear open your burrata and place on top of the warm lentils.

The heat from the lentils will melt the burrata making it even more creamy and soft.

Drizzle some basil oil over the top and scatter with the reserved basil leaves.

60 thoughts on “Lentils with Burrata and Basil Oil

  1. What beautiful young women. I really like lentils and was going to make lentils with beets this weekend but I still have some basil in the garden so I am going to try this delicious recipe. Thanks for posting.

  2. Lentil soup is a favorite and adding burrata sounds wonderful! We traveled the same way with friends in London, a relative in a neighboring village and a sister who was stationed in Germany – it was one of our best vacations!

  3. I eat lentils a lot, including simply simmered with a little added salt at the end. Plain and unexciting, but I love them. Now this recipe you’re sharing is absolutely stunning to me. I would never have even thought of the combinations, and I cannot wait to try it. I eat a lot of beans, quite frankly, and I wonder if this combination would even elevate something like black-eyed peas? I don’t think it would be as elegant as the lentils, but flavorful. I’m going to experiment

    You daughter and her friend are lovely, and what joyous memories, I suspect! :-)

    • I like them simply cooked in some broth, a little onion, garlic, and thyme. But this really was a wonderful combination. I’m not a black eyed pea fan, so probably not the right person to ask!

  4. oh no that would be awful getting ruined food in the mail.! i had a parcel delivered once which had clearly been run over! by the postal truck.. you could see the tyre marks!! burrata is delightful when not ruined in the mail:) your dish looks tasty and the white bowls are beautiful.

    • It was a really sad day for me. I can’t buy buratta locally. Shipping has been particularly touch during the pandemic. I once had a huge cheese shipment that sat on a neighbor’s driveway, a mile from my house, in the full summer sun. We don’t even have the same street address. That was fed ex, and they blamed it on GPS.

    • Oh did we have some wonderful experiences in England and all around. My favorite were the Gastropoda! Le Puy are the best, in my opinion.

  5. I remember when I first discovered burrata a couple of years ago – mind blown! This is the coolest cheese ever. Not only does it taste great, but the creamy center is fun for serving. I’m fortunate enough to be able to find burrata at a couple grocery stores near me. It sounds like you aren’t as lucky. Do you have a Trader Joe’s nearby? I believe they sell it! Either way, thanks for sharing this recipe. I always love finding new ways to serve burrata! (You can also make it at home, although that’s a bit of a trick. It can be done though!)

    • All real stores are almost 2 hours away from me. That’s just what I deal with. It’s why I’m so used to online shopping – so much handier than spending 4 hours in the car! Buratta is really incredible. Via various cheese mongers, I can also order stracciatella, the INSIDE of buratta. I did a post on that once. Incredible stuff.

    • You might have missed that my buratta arrived cooked from summer heat and a 3 day shipping delay, but I will make this again with fresh buratta! It is a wonderful dish.

  6. My husband is on a lentil kick at the moment. And we all love burrata! Bummer about the melted shipment. Good to know IGourmet has good customer service. (Not that helped your dish that evening.) I’m sure the author would approve of how deliciously it turned out though. :-) ~Valentina

    • I especially love the Le Puy variety. I’ve tried others like beluga… there’s just something about Le Puy. I like that they hold their shape, even when fully cooked. IGourmet has always been good to me, but what a sad day that was!

  7. Mimi – I love lentils of all types, so this is definitely a welcome recipe – I’ve been looking for something delicious to do with some lentils i’ve had in the pantry for a bit! So sorry about your burrata – it is among the best cheeses when not “cooked hard.” But thanks for the recipe!

    • Wasn’t that just awful?! There were other cheese that were destroyed by the heat as well. I’m glad I got credit, but I wanted the cheeses!!!

  8. I’m still waiting for someone to come out with vegan burrata, but until then, I’m all over these lentil. Basil oil also sounds like an excellent staple to have on hand for all sorts of savory dishes.

    • I actually used to have basil infused olive oil on hand. Not sure why I quit doing it!!! Vegan buratta… hmmmmm…. Cheese is why I’m not vegan.

  9. You have such a way with food, Mimi! And I learn so much from reading your posts. I’m familiar with burrata, but I thought it was a kind of mozzerella. I didn’t know about the other differences. So sorry about your “cooked” ones! How frustrating!

    • Thanks Jeff. The Italians really take their cheeses seriously! So many variations. And yes, that was truly a sad day when I got my cooked cheeses.

  10. Burrata with Plums. Burrata with Persimmons. Burrata with Tomatoes, Peaches, Peas, Mint, and of course lentils… You get the idea, the phrase “burrata with” is a great way to start a dinner party (and even a good conversation). GREG

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