June 25, 2011

Italian Burgers with Basil and Provolone + Grilled Vegetables

We've both been in the mood for burgers lately.  Juli wanted me to make some simple burgers with BBQ sauce, but I was in the mood for something a bit more novel than that.   I ended up making some Italian-seasoned burgers and topping most of them with melted provolone and fresh basil leaves from our garden, other than the one that I just covered with BBQ sauce while the burgers were still grilling, so Juli could have what she'd been craving.  These burgers were good.  Really, really good! 

Along with the burgers, I grilled some zucchini, summer squash and tomatoes.  I made the squash as I've previously described, save that I used only olive oil, kosher salt, black pepper and fresh chives as seasonings.  I topped the tomatoes with nothing but olive oil, salt and pepper.  All of the veggies grilled up really nicely, and they went great with burgers and a Caesar salad.

I used Barilla Spicy Marinara in and on these burgers, but any store-bought or homemade marinara would work just fine.   You could warm up the marinara before topping the burgers with it, but we found they tasted great without warming up the sauce. 

These burgers are fast and easy to make, they're really tasty, they're a great way to use fresh basil and they make for a nice change from ordinary burgers.   There's not much else to say about them, other than to include the recipe below and encourage you to give them a try sometime.

Italian Burgers with Basil and Provolone

yield = 6 servings

2 1/4           pounds 85% lean ground beef (chuck)
1/4              cup fresh-grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
2                 tablespoons marinara sauce
1 1/2           teaspoons freshly-ground black pepper
1                 teaspoon minced garlic
3/4              teaspoon kosher salt
1/2              teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2              teaspoon dried oregano leaves, crushed
1/4              teaspoon onion powder
18-20         medium to large fresh basil leaves
6                slices provolone cheese
6                hamburger buns or other large, round sandwich rolls
                  additional marinara sauce for topping

Prepare grill for medium-hot, direct grilling.

Add ground chuck, Parmigiano-Reggiano, 2 tablespoons marinara sauce, black pepper, garlic, kosher salt, red pepper flakes, oregano and onion powder to a large bowl.  Mix ingredients thoroughly by hand, then form the meat mixture into six large patties.  Indent the middle of each patty slightly by pressing with fingers.

Place the patties on the grill, cover and cook for 5 minutes.  Flip, cover and cook for another 4 minutes, then top each burger with 3-4 basil leaves and one piece of provolone.   Cover and cook another minutes or so, until the cheese has melted. 

Transfer the burgers to a serving platter.  Top with marinara and serve on buns.

Grilled Tomatoes

yield = 2-3 servings

2                 large, ripe tomatoes
                   olive oil
                   freshly-ground black pepper to taste
                   kosher salt to taste

Core each tomato, then slice the tomatoes sideways into 3 or 4 slices of equal thickness, with the number of slices depending on the size of the tomatoes (I cut ours into three slices each).

Brush on both sides with olive oil, then season on both sides to taste with kosher salt and freshly-ground black pepper. 

Grill over direct, medium-high heat for 5 minutes, then turn and grill another 5 minutes on the other side.  Transfer to a serving platter and serve immediately.

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