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Basil-Feta Torte Burgers with Roasted Red Pepper, Red Onion, and Pineapple Salsa

As we drive from our home on Alligator Bayou, down the River Road, to New Orleans we are reminded of the Creole, Cajun, Spanish, and Italian heritages that bond together in this Great American region. The ingredients of this burger incorporate the bold flavors and fresh ingredients typical of each of these cultures. Fresh basil, Provolone cheese, Creole tomatoes, cayenne pepper, and Dijon mustard represent just a sampling of our diverse region. Many of these same ingredients are combined each Thanksgiving and Christmas as our own family’s traditional feta-torte.

Ingredients 

Basil-Feta Torte Spread Ingredients:

4 ounces feta, crumbled
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
¼ cup shredded Asiago cheese
3 tablespoons butter, softened
2 ounces prepared sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil, chopped
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
¼ cup minced fresh basil
2 cloves garlic, minced
¼ teaspoon cayenne

Roasted Red Pepper, Red Onion, and Pineapple Salsa Ingredients
2 red bell peppers, divided
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
6 ounces fresh chopped pineapple
1 red onion, finely chopped

Patties Ingredients
1 tablespoon olive oil
12 ounces pancetta, thinly sliced
2 ½ pounds ground chuck
¼ cup minced basil
2 tablespoons chopped thyme leaves
2 leeks, cleaned and finely chopped
6 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
¾ teaspoon cayenne
Vegetable oil for brushing on the grill rack
6 slices provolone cheese
6 large Italian buns, split
6 curly red lettuce leaves, torn to fit buns
6 (1/4 inch) slices Creole tomatoes

Instructions 

In a medium bowl, combine the feta cheese, cream cheese, Asiago cheese, butter, sun-dried tomatoes, Dijon mustard, basil, garlic, cayenne, and 2 tablespoons reserved oil from the sun-dried tomatoes, olive oil. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

Preheat a gas grill to medium-high.

Place the red pepper on the open grill and roast until blackened on all sides, approximately 3-5 minutes per side. Place the roasted red pepper in a bowl or casserole with a lid, cover and let stand 10 minutes. Remove the peppers from the bowl. Peel off blackened skin and remove the stem and seeds from the peppers; discard skin, stem, and seeds. Finely chop the peppers and divide in half.

Add the second chopped pepper to a separate, medium bowl. To the bowl, add the minced jalapeno, chopped pineapple and red onion. Combine, cover, refrigerate, and set aside until ready to use.
Place a cast iron skillet over the medium-hot grill. Coat the skillet with olive oil and cook the pancetta until crispy. Transfer the crisp pancetta to paper towels to drain well and set aside until ready to use.

To make the patties, combine the ground chuck, reserved chopped red pepper, basil, thyme, leeks, feta, garlic, salt, pepper and cayenne. With your hands or a large spoon, gently mix well, handling the meat as little as possible to prevent compacting it. Form into 6 equal-sized patties sized to fit the buns.
Brush the grill rack with vegetable oil. Place the patties on the rack, cover, and cook until the bottoms are brown, about 5 minutes. With a spatula, turn over the patties and cook an additional 4 minutes, or until cooked to your preference.
During the last few minutes of grilling, top each patty with a slice of provolone cheese to melt the cheese. Place the buns, cut side down, on the outer edges of the grill rack to toast lightly.
To assemble the burgers, spread the Basil-Feta Torte Mixture over both cut sides of the buns. On each bun bottom, layer a lettuce leaf, sliced tomato, patty with melted provolone, and equal portions of the pancetta and Roasted Red Pepper, Red Onion, and Pineapple Salsa. Add the bun tops and serve.
Makes 6 burgers

Comments 

Although the ingredient list appears lengthy, many of the ingredients in the Basil-Feta Torte Spread and Salsa are also in the burger. The Basil-Feta Torte Spread and the Roasted Red Pepper, Red Onion, and Pineapple Salsa may be prepared ahead and refrigerated.