Pickled Red Onions
Place the thinly sliced red onion and bay leaf in a non-reactive bowl. Combine the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Pour the boiling liquid over the red onions. Cover the onions and allow them to come to room temperature before storing in the refrigerator. These can last in the refrigerator for a month if they remain covered in the pickling liquid. Use as desired.
Olive Oil Croutons
For this process, you’ll coat the bread in oil and allow it to toast on all sides, to give it a crunchy outer texture and a soft inner texture. Begin by cutting the bread into a large dice. I like to remove part of the crust from the bread, but not entirely; it is optional.
Using a large sauté or braising pan, add enough olive oil to generously coat the bottom. Bring the heat to a medium-high level and let the oil heat just until the smoking point. Add the bread and immediately stir/sauté to ensure each piece is coated in oil. The bread will absorb the oil quickly, and you will need to drizzle in more as the pan goes dry, or you will burn the bread before it is done. Once you see some color forming on the bread, add in the rosemary, whole garlic cloves and a pinch of salt, and continue to sauté. Allow the bread to sit for a second or two on the pan surface but watch for the toasted color to form and ensure you are moving the pan enough to allow all sides to toast. Continue to add oil as needed. Once you have all the bread looking toasted on the outside, add in the chili flakes for a brief sauté. Remove the croutons from the sauté pan and allow them to come to room temperature resting on a plate or baking sheet. Once cooled, the croutons’ crunch will be more present.
Compose and Arrange the Salad
In a large bowl, add in equal parts of the tomatoes and watermelon, followed by a handful of the fennel, pickled onion (reserving the liquid) and croutons. Season with sea salt and drizzle with olive oil and pickling liquid. Fold the ingredients over each other until fully incorporated and check the seasoning. Adjust as needed by adding more pickling liquid or salt. Add in the tarragon leaves.
You may plate it individually, but this also makes a great family-style salad. Arrange the salad on the plate or platter and place the cut pieces of cheese in a random pattern in and around the tomatoes. Once the mixing bowl is empty, I like to add in the pea shoots and mix them in the remaining seasoning in the bowl, garnish over the top with the pea shoots and a last drizzle of olive oil and be sure to salt the burrata on the salad. Enjoy!