Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Recipe: Italian Burgers (Sun-dried Tomato Burgers with Basil Pesto, Mozzarella, and Basil)

I've been on this sun-dried tomato kick since this weekend—I whipped up some of my sun-dried tomato pesto on Saturday night and since then, I've put it in pasta, spread it on bread, and even stolen a few spoonfuls straight from the pot. When I finished that up, I went on a search for recipes with sun-dried tomatoes and came across this gem, switched a few things up, and went for it. So, tonight's dinner: Italian-style burgers made with ground beef, sun-dried tomatoes, and garlic served on ciabatta bread with freshly made basil pesto, creamy mozzarella cheese, and fresh basil leaves. This is a delicious Italian twist on a traditional burger—perfect for dinner out on the back porch on a warm summer evening. 

Serves: 4-6
Prep. time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 10 minutes
Difficulty: Easy
Special equipment: Grill

  • 1/4 cup white onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 oz. (approx. 1/3 cup) sun-dried tomatoes, drained and diced (I use Alessi brand)
  • 1/4 cup grated Pecorino-Romano cheese
  • 1 lb. 90% or 93% lean ground beef
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 4-6 slices fresh mozzarella cheese
  • 4-6 ciabatta rolls/buns (I ended up buying small ciabatta bread loaves and cutting them in half), sliced in half
  • 4-6 basil leaves
  • Approx 3 tbsp. basil pesto (see recipe here)

Preheat the grill to medium-high heat. In a medium bowl, combine the onion, garlic, sun-dried tomatoes, Pecorino-Romano cheese, salt, and pepper (to get a finer mix, put all of these ingredients in a food processor and pulse to blend, then add to the bowl). Add the beef and gently mix everything until combined (do not overwork the meat though!). Form into 4-6 (we ended up with 5) hamburger patties and make a small indentation (use your thumb) in the center of each one (this help prevents the burger from becoming domed in the center while it cooks). Cook on the grill until cooked to desired doneness (about 3-4 minutes per side to get medium doneness). During the last minute of cooking, place the ciabatta slices, inside down, on the grill and lightly toast them (this prevents the bread from soaking up burger juices—do this, and you'll never have mushy, wet burger bottoms again!). Remove the burgers and buns from the grill. Spread a little basil pesto on the bottoms of each bun, then place the beef patties on, topped with a slice of mozzarella, a basil leave, and the top of the bun. Serve will fries, chips, a salad, or whatever floats your boat, and enjoy!

Burgers, sizzling away on the grill. Gotta love those bright red chunks of sun-dried tomatoes!

These burgers are bursting with flavor—they are definitely near the top of my list of best meals I've made and  this recipe is most certainly going in my "Keep" pile. Sun-dried tomatoes are sweet, tangy, and rich, and they add a pop of flavor to the meat. The pesto is garlicky, spicy, and fresh and, like the sun-dried tomatoes in the patty, it packs a punch that really heightens the overall flavor of the burger. Soft, creamy mozzarella and fresh basil leaves add lightness and freshness to the burger. All of that on a slightly chewy, slightly crunchy ciabatta roll and you've got yourself one hell of a burger, Italian-style.

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