Recently, in Taste of Home’s latest “Ground Beef” special edition magazine, I saw a recipe for a burger topped with sun-dried tomatoes and slathered with spinach dip. I thought that combination sounded pretty damn good, but I had one reservation: sun-dried tomatoes are chewy as hell and would be difficult to bite through. So, I thought to myself, “Why not chop them up and mix them in with the ground beef?” Then I thought, “Hey, I’ve got some nice basil in my garden—I’ll chop some up and mix it in, too.” This was followed by, “Ooooooooh, I could mix in some grated Parmesan cheese!” At this point, my mouth started to water so I got to work. In the end, the recipe was so far removed from the original found in the magazine, that I feel comfortable sharing it with you and claiming it as my own—but I will be forever grateful for the inspiration!
1 1/4 lbs ground beef (90% lean if you’re going healthier, 80% lean if you’re not—just remember that fat equals flavor)
1 Tbsp mayonnaise
1/2 cup finely chopped sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil (patted dry before going under the knife)
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Freshly ground black pepper
4 slices provolone cheese, or moreto taste
4 brioche burger rolls
4-6 Tbsp butter or margarine, softened
4 butterhead lettuce leaves
1. Place the ground beef, mayonnaise, 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper, sun-dried tomatoes, basil, and Parmesan cheese in a large mixing bowl. Using your hands, gently mix the ingredients together until just combined. Do not over-mix, as this will cause the burgers to be tough.
2. Pat the meat mixture into a large, loose ball in the bottom of the bowl. Using the side of your dominant hand, score the meat into equal quarters. Gently form each quarter of meat into a ball, then flatten it between your hands to make a disk about an inch larger than the circumference of the burger roll (it will shrink as it cooks). Using your thumb, make an indentation in the center of the burger patty (this helps the burger remain flat during the cooking process). If you are not cooking the burgers immediately, place them on a plate, cover them with plastic wrap, and keep them in the refrigerator until half an hour before cooking time; be sure to give them some time on the counter to get the chill off of them before introducing them to the heat. Right before grilling your burgers, sprinkle them with more salt and pepper, to taste, on both sides. This will help form a crust on the meat and provide great flavor.
3. Meanwhile heat your grill or grill pan to high heat. If you are using a charcoal grill, as I do, this will be a direct heat situation (in short, the burgers should be placed directly over the hot coals). Coat the cooking surface with a thin layer of oil and allow it to become hot. Place the burger patties on the hot surface and cook for 2-3 minutes per side, depending on how well you like them done. If you are cooking on the grill, cover them with the lid during the cooking process. Once cooked, place a slice of provolone cheese on each burger, cover the grill once again with its lid (or tent them with foil if your using a grill pan), and let the cheese melt for 1 minute. Remove the burgers to a plate, tent them with foil, and let them rest while you deal with the rolls.
4. Spread the cut surfaces of the rolls with the softened butter or margarine. At this point, you can either toast the rolls cut-side down on the grill, or cut-side up on a sheet pan under the broiler in your oven. The toasting process takes a minute or less. Whichever method you use, don’t walk away from the rolls—they will burn if you’re not vigilantly attending to them!
5. Once toasted, remove the rolls from the heat source, and slather the cut-side of the top half of each with spinach dip. Place a lettuce leaf on top of each bottom half, then top it with a burger. Put the lids on top of each burger and enjoy immediately.
🍔 Rather than use store-bought spinach dip, I opted to make my own with my favorite recipe, which can be found in America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook. It’s ridiculously good and so easy to make, but you can totally use your favorite recipe or store-brand instead. For the record, if you do not already own the afore-mentioned cookbook, please let me urge you to buy it immediately—you won’t be sorry.
🍔🍔 If you are looking to cut your carbohydrates intake, ditch the roll and serve the patty smothered in the spinach dip. It’s so flavorful it can stand alone.