10 recipes using the latest 'it' cheese

We need to talk about burrata, the ridiculously indulgent fresh Italian cheese that's everywhere these days. If "It Girl" refers to the girl of the moment that everyone wants to be, then hands down burrata is the cheese everyone wants to eat. While I have enjoyed other fresh cheeses such as mozzarella, ricotta, farmer's cheese, or fromage blanc, I fully understand that I am experiencing something altogether transcendent when I taste a luxurious bite of burrata. The moment of cutting into it to reveal creamy cheese curds is dramatic, dreamy, and unforgettable.

What is burrata?

So what is burrata exactly? The name means "buttered" in Italian, which should give you a hint about taste and texture. While burrata resembles a ball of fresh mozzarella upon initial inspection, know that it's so much more than meets the eye. Initially conceived as a way to use the remaining curds from mozzarella-making, burrata quickly became recognized for its own inherently alluring appeal. This special variety of Italian cheese boasts a smooth, beyond-soft exterior and an interior that consists of fluffy curds mixed with cream. I'll give you a moment here to process that information.

While similar in appearance to mozzarella, burrata is its own magical thing altogether. The former is made with pulled milk curds when they are still soft, whereas burrata gets its shape by forming those same curds into hollow balls that are then filled with more curds mixed with fresh cream. Mozzarella and burrata are both pulled cheeses referred to as "pasta filata" in Italian. According to Academia Barilla, burrata cheese came into production in the late 1920s in the city of Andria in the southern part of Italy. And while the soft creamy cheese was originally made using buffalo's milk exclusively, you can now find burrata varieties made with cow's milk as well.

When you consider that eating burrata is a hyper-realized experience of enjoying the best fresh mozzarella you've ever had, you won't be surprised by the cheese's increasing popularity among food lovers. Luckily for you, me, and anyone with access to a good cheesemonger, there are plenty of absolutely glorious ways to eat burrata on the reg. Its tender, creamy center makes it ideal for melting onto pizza, sopping up with crusty bread slices, tossing with pasta, or lending richness to salad. Go forth and jump on the burrata bandwagon. You won't regret it! In case you're shy about diving into your love affair with this cheese of the moment, here are some recipes to bring you out of your shell.

Squash blossom and burrata pizza

This recipe from Turntable Kitchen makes me weak in the knees. Sure, I've had my share of artisanal pizza loaded with farm-fresh ingredients, yet somehow this one remains a standout. I have a strong feeling my lovey-dovey school girl feels have to do with the generous amounts of burrata cheese dotting the pie's surface. The homemade crust makes an ideal bed for simple zesty red sauce, delicate squash blossoms, and soft dollops of burrata. The result is pizza that is deeply flavorful, uncluttered, and utterly satisfying. Don't be surprised if it quickly turns into your go-to pie for all your pizza nights.

Burrata with roasted asparagus and tomato salad

This clever recipe from Foodie Crush will get you the same way it really gets me. Sure, I want to eat more salad because I understand it's good for me, but in my heart of hearts I'd prefer an entire Italian antipasto platter that includes salty cured meats and rich cheese. Here, a loose interpretation of salad allows me to eat some healthy produce while also indulging in my deepest desire to consume meat and cheese. Roasted tomato slices and asparagus spears are roasted to delicate perfection, then served with prosciutto, arugula, and basil leaves with toasted bread alongside.

Burrata with wild berries, honey, and honey

I freely admit to having eaten burrata served on nothing but a spoon. That said, turning it into the main ingredient of a dessert makes the whole practice a lot more socially acceptable. This sweet recipe from Food52 helps you achieve respectability, while still allowing you to eat an entire chunk of burrata in one sitting. Here, burrata is drizzled with honey and balsamic, topped with fresh fruit, and lightly seasoned with freshly ground black pepper. The easy preparation results in a dessert that's complexly flavored and sophisticated — very civilized, I promise!

Seared cauliflower, broccoli, and burrata pasta

No list of ways to use burrata would be complete without a pasta recipe or two. This vegetarian one from Two Spoons is pretty darn tasty. This streamlined dish uses few ingredients, allowing the pasta, vegetables, and cheese to shine through. Without saucy distractions, a short pasta variety of your choice — I vote for rigatoni always — is tossed with cauliflower and broccoli florets and seasoned with fresh thyme and torn pieces of burrata. A drizzle of olive oil and the starch from the pasta water are more than sufficient for coating the pasta in a silky thin "sauce."

Grilled eggplant with fresh burrata

Sometimes the most elegant dishes are also the simplest ones. Case in point? This veggie-forward recipe from Urban Cookery. Meaty eggplant shares the main stage with generous amounts of burrata cheese. No complaints here! Large eggplant slices are salted and set aside to eliminate any bitterness, then drizzled with olive oil and grilled until just charred in spots for maximum smoky flavor. Layer with messy slices of burrata and sprinkle with flaky sea salt for a dish that is as elegant as it is indulgently satiating.

Barley, cauliflower, and herbs with burrata

I try to enjoy at least one grain-centric dish each week, so naturally the one that includes burrata makes it onto my dinner rotation. This nourishing dish from Epicurious tastes fresh, filling, and delicious. As a weeknight grain salad, it is quite stunning in its monochromatic color scheme and adaptable should you wish to use a different grain. Here, pearled barley is paired with milk-soaked cauliflower, breadcrumbs, fragrant parsley, lemon, and a blend of burrata and creme fraiche. The result is a vibrant meal that feels light and healthy but still leaves you completely satisfied.

Mushroom and burrata lasagnette

Make new friends when you serve this excellent dish of cheesy hot carbs. The folks at Bon Appetit truly understand that sometimes one simply has to eat dinner that's wholly comforting from the first bite to the last. The cheesy layers are made with a blend of ricotta and cream, spoonfuls of burrata, Parmesan for good measure, and, oh, some lasagna noodles and mushrooms, too. The baked end product is honestly something I could envision becoming a big part of my life.

Burrata, tomato, and basil burger

I like this recipe from D'Artagnan because it turns a classic salad into a delectable burger. I will forever approve of all decisions that involve transforming salads into burgers. Take your favorite caprese ingredients and sandwich them between bread — but swap in extra creamy burrata for traditional mozzarella. Flavorful patties made with beef, veal, breadcrumbs, and Parmesan are layered between hearty ciabatta bread along with fresh basil, tomato slices, and generous pieces of burrata. Add olive oil, sit back, and enjoy.

Arugula pesto pasta with blistered tomatoes and burrata

Here's is another burrata-laden pasta I can eat every day. Thank goodness! Any day I get to casually sneak this heavenly cheese into a meal is a good one in my book. The beautiful green color of this dish comes from an easy homemade arugula pesto that I would happily eat by the spoonful. Toss with bucatini pasta and burrata, then serve with sweet roasted tomatoes and more burrata and have yourself a good night. I guarantee you will finish your dinner wearing a big smile on your face. #Burrata4Life

Lemon and olive oil marinated fennel with burrata and mint

This recipe makes me giddy because it's a tasty, vibrantly seasoned, thinly veiled excuse to eat more burrata. I love it. Fennel is marinated for a quick ten minutes with olive oil plus some lemon zest and juice — as well as salt and pepper, of course. We're not heathens. That's it! Your work here is finished. When you're ready to eat, simply break up the burrata and serve it on top along with a fresh mint garnish and more olive oil if desired. Does this count as cooking? Maybe it doesn't matter since you still get to eat burrata.

Italy has done right by us again.