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THE AMERICAN TABLE: Recipe for grilled tomatoes and burrata

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Often, the best dishes are the simplest. A common feeling among chefs is that if you use the best-quality ingredients and treat them lightly, you will be rewarded. I couldn't agree more.

This is illustrated perfectly by this recipe for grilled tomatoes on the vine with burrata. Tomatoes with mozzarella is one of my favourite combinations, and I love it even when the tomatoes are less than perfect and the mozzarella is a little bland. But take a bunch of cherry tomatoes on the vine, grill them and serve them with burrata and some grilled bread and you've got an amazing dish!

The hardest part of this recipe is treating the fragile tomatoes carefully so that they don't fall off the vine. You want to brush or rub them with a little olive oil to protect them, then season them lightly with kosher salt. Place the tomatoes vine side up on the cooking grate and do not turn them.

The heat of the grill will intensify the natural juices and sugars, making the sweet tomatoes even more flavourful. The warm tomatoes can be served immediately with the burrata, a touch of extra-virgin olive oil, and a bit of salt and pepper. I like to serve this as a shared plate with grilled ciabatta bread.

Smear a little burrata on the ciabatta and top with a grill-roasted tomato. You can either spread the tomato, breaking the skin and smoothing out the juice on top of the cheese and olive oil, or keep it whole. Personally, I like to smear the two together, making a soft, rich juicy bite!

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GRILLED TOMATOES AND BURRATA

This will become your go-to appetizer of summer. It is delicious and luxurious, but simple to make. The hardest thing about this recipe is making sure that the cherry tomatoes don't fall off the vine! Can't find burrata? Substitute a large ball of fresh mozzarella.

Start to finish: 15 minutes

Servings: 6

2 clusters cocktail tomatoes on the vine

Extra-virgin olive oil

Flaked sea salt

16-ounce ball of burrata or fresh mozzarella cheese

Ground black pepper

Artisan bread or ciabatta, to serve

Heat a grill to medium-low.

Carefully rinse the tomatoes, but leave them on the vine. Drizzle oil over the tomatoes and lightly rub it in, then sprinkle them lightly with salt.

Place the tomatoes, vine side up, directly on the grill's cooking grate. Grill with the lid down for about 5 minutes, or until the tomatoes are warmed through and blackened in spots. Gently remove the tomatoes.

Place the cheese on a serving plate and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, then arrange the tomatoes around it. Serve with bread to sop up the juice from the tomatoes and the buratta.

Nutrition information per serving: 480 calories; 250 calories from fat (52 per cent of total calories); 27 g fat (13 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 65 mg cholesterol; 40 g carbohydrate; 3 g fiber; 4 g sugar; 19 g protein; 620 mg sodium.

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EDITOR'S NOTE: Elizabeth Karmel is a grilling and Southern foods expert and executive chef at Hill Country Barbecue Market restaurants in New York and Washington, as well as Hill Country Chicken in New York. She is the author of three cookbooks, including "Soaked, Slathered and Seasoned."

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