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Mediterranean Date Burger with Lemon Feta Spinach and Paprika Bacon Aioli

One day when I was grilling a steak, I threw a few dates on the grill. They went so well together that I decided I had to try them inside of a burger. I worked with other Mediterranean flavors to make a one of a kind burger that all of my friends rave about.

Ingredients 

Patties
• 6 dates finely chopped
• 1/2 cup Sutter Home Zinfandel wine
• 2 teaspoons kosher salt
• 1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
• 2 teaspoons smoked sweet paprika
• 2 cloves minced garlic
• 1/2 cup finely minced shallot
• 2 pounds ground beef chuck

Paprika Bacon Aioli
• 1 cup mayonnaise
• 1 tablespoon of Sutter Home Zinfandel wine
• 2 cloves garlic, mashed into a paste
• 1 teaspoon Spanish smoked sweet paprika
• 4 slices of precooked bacon

Lemon Feta Spinach
• 3 cups baby spinach
• ¼ cup shredded carrots
• 2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
• 1 tablespoon Sutter Home Zinfandel wine
• 1 teaspoons of lemon juice
• ¼ teaspoon dried thyme
• 3 ounces of crumbled feta cheese

• 6 Sesame seed buns--split
• Vegetable oil to brush the grill

Instructions 

Prepare a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill with a cover, or preheat a gas grill to medium-high heat.

Cut the dates in half and remove the pits, then chop the dates until they are about the size of a large raisin. Add the wine, garlic, shallots, paprika, salt, and pepper. Let the sauce set for at least 20-30 minutes to soften the dates and combine the flavors, stirring every 10 minutes.

To make the patties, place the ground chuck in a large bowl and add the dates and wine mixture. Mix well, handling as little as possible to avoid compacting it. Form into 6 equal patties to fit the buns and depress the centers for even cooking. Cover and refrigerate until ready to grill.

To make the aioli, place 4 the pre-cooked bacon on the grill, and cook on both sides until it is crispy. Let it cool, and chop into small pieces. In a small bowl, add the bacon, garlic, paprika and wine to the mayonnaise and stir. Cover and refrigerate until the burgers are ready.

For the spinach salad, in a large bowl add the lemon, wine and thyme. Whisk the olive oil into the dressing until smooth. Add the spinach, carrots and cheese to the dressing and toss until coated. Place in the refrigerator until the burgers are done.

When the grill is ready, brush the grill rack with vegetable oil. Place the patties on the grill rack and cover. Cook on each side for 5-7 minutes, until the desired doneness is reached, turning only once. During the last two minutes of cooking, place the buns cut side down on the outer edges of the rack to toast lightly.

To assembly the patties spread both toasted side of the buns with a generous amount of the aioli. Top the 6 bun bottoms with the patties and cover with an equal amount of the spinach salad. Add the bun tops and serve.

Makes 6 burgers

Comments 

Mediterranean flavors have always been a favorite of mine while in the kitchen. I love to BBQ dates when I am cooking a good steak, but once I incorporated them into the meat, I knew right away I had a winner. The dates add a sweetness and umami flavor that is unique and will have your guests asking what it is, as they are asking for a second helping.