Recipes, Summer Recipes

Balsamic Caprese Burgers

I have the wrong idea about foodies. I think that if someone is a self-professed foodie, they’re someone who loves food and feeding them should be a lot of food. But a lot of people I know have the opposite idea. They hear I’m a foodie and start worrying that I’m going to turn my nose up or critique what’s being served.

In a way, food is my love language. Not in an “eating your emotions” kind of way. But if I love someone, I take a lot of pleasure in serving them a delicious, healthy, and tasty home cooked meal. You want to show me love? Cook me something from the heart. I couldn’t care less if it’s your grandmother’s no fail quick win dinner that’s three different boxes combined. I’m not a snob.

Which is why my favorite food in the world isn’t anything you have to visit a Michelin star restaurant to enjoy. I enjoy haute cuisine, but there isn’t anything in life I love more than a burger. There is nothing in this world like ground meat cooked over charcoal and served on a tasty bun.

I do love them in a lot of different varieties, though. Take this Caprese Burger. I love its unexpected flavors.

There’s no barbecue rub, no barbecue sauce, none of the typical heaviness I associate with burgers. Instead, it’s half ground beef and half Italian sausage with a splash of Balsamic vinaigrette and Italian seasoning, served up on a toasted bun with sun-dried tomato pesto aioli, melted mozzarella, roasted tomatoes, and fresh basil. Delicious!

And did I mention easy? It’s super easy to get these babies from grill to table. You might find them popping up regularly in your weekday meal rotation. We sure do around here!

Italian Balsamic Caprese Burgers

Serves 4.

What You’ll Need:

For sun-dried tomato pesto:

  • 4 oz sun-dried tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp fresh basil, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/3 cup crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste

For the burgers:

  • 4 medium sized tomatoes
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Italian seasoning to taste
  • 1 pound grass-fed ground beef
  • 1/2 pound sweet Italian sausage
  • 1/4 cup Balsamic vinaigrette {we like Newman’s Own}
  • more Italian seasoning to taste
  • 4 large round slices fresh Mozzarella
  • 4 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 4 tbsp sun-dried tomato pesto
  • 8 large basil leaves

How to Make Them:

1. Let’s start with the sun-dried tomato pesto. Place together the sun-dried tomatoes, basil, parsley, garlic, and pine nuts in a food processor or blender and process until well blended. Throw in the vinegar, tomato paste, and crushed tomatoes, and process. Stir in the olive oil and Parmesan cheese, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

2. Let’s roast the tomatoes. Preheat your oven to 400F. Slice the tomatoes into thick slices {1/3-1/2 inch} and place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and season with Italian seasoning and salt and pepper to taste. Cook at 400F for 10 minutes, or until tomatoes have started to crinkle.

3. Combine the ground beef and ground Italian sausage in a large bowl. Add the balsamic vinaigrette and season well with Italian seasoning and salt and pepper to taste. Divide into 4 large patties.

4. Heat your grill or a table top grill to medium-high heat. Cook the patties for 5 minutes each side or until juices run clear. Top the patties with a large slice of mozzarella each and cook an additional 2-3 minutes, or until the mozzarella melts slightly. I use the top of my tabletop grill to brown the cheese slightly.

5. Mix together the 4 tablespoons of mayonnaise and 4 tablespoons of sun-dried tomato pesto in a small bowl or ramekin to make the aioli and set aside. Toast the buns if desired.

6. Assemble the burgers by spreading the sun-dried tomato pesto aioli on the buns and then layering each with a burger with melted mozzarella, a chunk of roasted tomato, a couple of basil leaves, and the top bun. Serve and enjoy!

I’m having to rely on Scott for pairing advice these days {as I’m pairing everything with water, surprise surprise} but we think beer isn’t right for this. He likes a sparkling Moscato, but that might be too light to keep pace with the burger. I have in mind a more robust white that will pick up the fresh herbs in the sandwich, but I’m not sure which one yet. Something to test out once little man is successfully launched into the world, I think!

What’s your favorite twist on the classic burger?