“Living in Louisiana, you’re always around spicy things,” says Jeff Mattia, the executive chef and owner of Pyre Provisions in Covington, Louisiana. So, when he was crafting a go-to end of summer salad for his restaurant, adding a little creole spice to the already surprising dish full of tart tomatoes, sweet watermelons, and briny watermelon rind pickles was a natural move.
“People don’t often associate these flavors, but the sugar, spice, and acid work well together,” Mattia says. Once the basic components are in place, the recipe invites variation. “We sometimes garnish it with crushed red pepper flakes or pickled jalapenos. Sometimes we mix pickled green tomatoes in there,” he says. “If you want to be a little healthier, you can substitute mozzarella for the burrata, but it will be a little denser and eliminate some of the creaminess.”
But like a true Louisianian, Mattia always comes back to the spice: “My best tip,” he says, “is not to skimp on the pepper jelly.”