June 30th, 2011
I gotta say, I like Giada. From the taste of these Caprese Burgers, she likes us, too. And she’s showing us the love right in time for July 4th weekend!
My appreciation for Giada started with her Honey Ricotta Cheesecake, so delicious it instantly became a holiday tradition in my house. Then, I was lucky to meet the petite, Le Cordon Bleu-trained chef at a holiday event hosted by Target. I was impressed with the effortless way she’s able to share her deep knowledge of food without being intimidating.
Giada’s recipes are simple and her products convenient, but they aren’t dumbed down. Instead, she’s developed her brand for with a thoughtfulness and keen eye towards design. (And no, I have not been asked or paid to write this; I actually own items from Giada’s Target line and buy some of her pantry staples like the jarred GDL sun-dried tomatoes.) So I was thrilled to attend another demo hosted by Giada and Target earlier this week. And that’s where these delish Caprese Burgers come from. YUM!
Let’s start with the fact that adding pesto to ground beef is brilliant. I know that some of you will disagree the way that I respectfully disagree that flavored coffee is a good idea. As someone who cooks only local, sustainable meat (thanks to my meat CSA from High Point Farms and my favorite butchers at The Meat Hook), I get that a burger made with quality meat is best with just salt and pepper. Really, I do. But, sometimes, I get down with adding stuff to my burgers, you know, to spice things up. If you get down that way, too, then pesto is a good idea.
Whether or not you’re willing to add pesto to your burger meat, mixing pesto into mayo for a burger spread is undeniable. Right? We’re all in agreement that it sounds good? Good. Because it does. I tried it. See!
So now we’ve got a juicy burger and vibrant, garlicky spread. Add a slice of ripe summer tomato and creamy fresh mozzarella (freeze for 20 minutes to make slicing easier) and you’ve got Giada’s Caprese Burgers.
I’ll be talking more about Giada soon. I asked her for tips on affordably stocking a kitchen with quality gear and think you’ll appreciate her insights (and my thoughts, too!). In the meantime, I thought you should have this recipe for the upcoming holiday weekend.
recipe (very slightly adapted) from Giada De Laurentiis
(can be adapted for kids 8+ mos)*
2 1/2 pounds ground sirloin beef**
3/4 cup basil pesto (or 1 jar GDL Genovese Pesto from Target)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 (7- to 8-ounce) ball fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced into 8 1/4-inch slices, patted dry with paper towels
8 hamburger buns, halved (or try foccacia bread!)
olive oil, for drizzling
1/2 cup mayonnaise
8 large fresh basil leaves (optional)
4 medium tomatoes, sliced into 1/4-inch rounds, to yield 16 slices
1. For the burgers: Place a grill pan over medium-high heat or pre-heat a grill. In a large bowl, combine the beef, 3/4 of the pesto, Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper. Form the mixture into 8 (4-inch diameter) patties, each about 3/4-inch thick. Grill for 5 minutes. Flip and cook for another 3 minutes. Place a slice of mozzarella on top of the burger and continue to cook for about 2 minutes longer until the burgers are cooked through and the cheese is slightly melted. Allow the burgers to rest for 5 minutes.
2. Drizzle the cut side of the bread with olive oil and grill until lightly toasted, about 1 or 2 minutes.
3. Combine the remaining pesto and mayonnaise in a bowl. Spread the mixture over the bottom halves of the grilled bread. Place the burgers on top and add 2 slices tomato and, if you like, a basil leaf. Add the top halves of the bread and serve.
* Note: Though it’s perfectly safe to share meat with kids 6+ months, because I don’t like to puree meat, I hold off until 8- to 10-months-old. At 8 months, you should be able to mash or finely chop burger meat into age appropriate bites. If not for your child, feel free to puree or hold off until they are older. When your child is old enough, pieces of easy-to-chew burgers make a great finger food.
**Note: Consider buying meat from a trusted butcher and, if you can, ask him or her to grind the meat specifically for you to ensure a safer (and more delicious!) burger. Organic and, even better, local meat are your best options.