Thursday, August 30, 2012

Caprese Burgers

Happy (early) Labor Day! This weekend happens to be one of my favorite weekends of the year and not just because of the extra day off from work. Labor Day ushers in the end of summer and start of fall. Our days are still warm but when the sun disappears from the horizon the temperature drops and out come the sweatshirts. Even with the cooling temperatures the garden is still flourishing. The recipes you will see here in the next couple of weeks will be aimed at using up my summer vegetable bounty.

One of my favorite ways to use late summer produce is the caprese salad or insalata caprese if you are feeling fancy. The classic caprese is a simple summer salad made with fresh tomatoes, creamy mozzarella and pungent basil. This recipe combines those same flavors into a delicious burger that is perfect for late summer cookouts.

Caprese Burgers
recipe courtesy of Giada De Laurentiis

2 ½ pounds ground sirloin beef
¼ cup grated Parmesan
1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
8-ounce ball fresh mozzarella,  sliced into ¼ inch-thick slices, patted dry with paper towels

Pesto Mayonnaise:
½ cup mayonnaise
¼ cup Basil Pesto

Extra-virgin olive oil for drizzling
8 hamburger buns, halved
4 medium tomatoes, sliced into ¼ inch-thick rounds

For the burgers: Preheat grill over medium-high heat. Combine the beef, 1 cup basil pesto, Parmesan, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Form the mixture into eight 4-inch-diameter patties, each about ¾ inch thick. Grill for 5 minutes. Turn the burgers over and place a slice of mozzarella on top. Cook for about 5 minutes longer until the burgers are cooked through and the cheese is slightly melted. Allow the burgers to rest for 5 minutes.

For the pesto mayonnaise: In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise and basil pesto until smooth.

To assemble the burgers: Drizzle the cut side of the hamburger buns with olive oil and grill until lightly toasted, 1 to 2 minutes. Place the burgers on top and add 1 or 2 tomato slices. Add the top halves of the bread and serve. I like to top the burgers with fresh basil leaves and pass the pesto mayonnaise on the side.