RECIPES: Recipe Details

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Burger Siciliana "alla Norma"

Born in Sicily. Raised in Boston. Residing in St. Louis.

As life takes me in different directions, I seem to be getting farther away from my roots. Nevertheless, the Sicilian culture is still very close to my heart. From Boston's "North End" to St. Louis' "the Hill", the Sicilian influence on American cuisine can be seen throughout this great country.

Let's raise our glass of Sutter Home wine to honor the many Sicilian immigrants that have called this nation home. Inspired by one of the most elegant and traditional Sicilian recipes, the Burger Siciliana "alla Norma" is a divine combination of eggplants, tomatoes, fresh basil and ricotta salata cheese. Embark on a journey to Sicily without ever leaving your backyard.

Buon Appetito!

Ingredients 

Tomato Sauce:
1/4 cup Colavita Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 small onion, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 (15-ounce) can of tomato puree
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon sugar

Grilled Eggplant:
1 eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch-thick rounds
1/4 cup Colavita Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Hamburger Patties:
2 pounds ground sirloin
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup crumbled ricotta salata cheese (or substitute with a mild feta cheese)

6 bun-sized focaccia bread sections, sliced horizontally
1/4 cup Colavita Extra-Virgin Olive Oil, for brushing on grill racks and focaccia
6 slices (1/4-inch-thick) fresh mozzarella cheese
12 large-size fresh basil leaves or 18 medium

Instructions 

Preheat a gas grill to medium-high heat.

To make the tomato sauce, place the olive oil in a medium-sized nonstick fire-proof skillet. Place the skillet on the grill and heat for a few minutes. Transfer the minced onion and garlic to the skillet and saute until the onions are translucent, about 8 minutes. Add the tomato puree, tomato paste, salt, pepper and sugar. Allow sauce to simmer uncovered for 20 to 25 minutes, until the sauce thickens, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and keep warm.

While tomato sauce is simmering, prepare the eggplant. Arrange eggplant on a 12 by 17-inch sheet pan, brush both sides of the eggplant with the olive oil. Sprinkle the eggplant with salt and pepper. Set aside.

To make the patties, combine the sirloin, garlic, salt, pepper and ricotta salata in a large bowl. Handling the meat as little as possible to avoid compacting it, mix well. Divide meat mixture in 6 equal portions. Shape the meat mixture into round patties about 1/2-inch larger in diameter than the focaccia sections.

When the grill is ready, brush the grill rack with the olive oil. Place the patties on the rack, cover, and cook, turning once, just until done, about 4 minutes on each side for medium. Grill the eggplant slices until tender and lightly charred on both sides, about 3-4 minutes per side. During the last few minutes of grilling, top each patty with a slice of mozzarella cheese until melted. Brush the cut sides of the focaccia with the olive oil and place, cut side down, on the grill rack to toast lightly.

To assemble burgers, on each focaccia bottom, place 2 large basil leaves (3 medium), an eggplant slice, a patty, another eggplant slice and 2 tablespoons of the tomato sauce. Add the focaccia tops and serve.

Makes 6 burgers.