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Savory Sweet Sicilian Beef Burgers with Tomato/Onion

Inspired by today's desire to combine healthy eating with satisfying flavors, farm fresh ingredients and family recipes, this recipe calls to mind the freshness of Sicilian cooking. Combining the rich sweetness of raisins, Merlot,and savory earthy ingredients such as portabello mushrooms and shallots, this beef burger is an unusual taste sensation filled with bright, sunny heart healthy tastes !

Ingredients 

Ingredient List: For patties:
15 tbsp Colavita olive oil total; 3 tbsp for patties, 6 tbsp for salad, 6 tbsp for bread (additional olive oil to brush grill rack)
5 tbsp Colavita balsamic vinegar total; 3 tbsp for patties, 2 tbsp for salad
1 cup finely chopped Baby Bella mushrooms
1 6 oz package of extra moist raisins
½ cup Sutter Home Merlot Wine
½ cup finely chopped shallots
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 ½ lb ground chuck
1 ½ tsp salt for tomato/onion salad
6 tbsp Colavita red wine vinega
r ½ tsp freshly ground pepper
1 red onion thinly sliced
2 large beefsteak tomatoes, sliced thinly lengthwise, then in strips for toast
3 garlic cloves, minced
Ciabatta bread, 3-4” wide loaves or rolls; if loaves, purchase enough to accommodate 6-3” wide in diameter burgers
1 1/2 fresh basil leaves, rolled into chiffonade and sliced

Instructions 

Directions: Oil the grill. Preheat a gas grill to medium-high. To make the patties: In a fireproof skillet, add 3 tbsp olive oil, (reserve 12 tbsp of olive oil for later use), 3 tbsp balsamic vinegar (reserve 2 tbsp of balsmic vinegar for later use in tomato/onion salad) and mushrooms and saute over medium high heat until mushrooms are cooked, approximately five minutes. Add raisins, merlot, shallots and tomato paste and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and add to food processor. Pulse using large blade until mixture is combined, roughly choppped but not smooth. Pour mixture into large mixing bowl and cool for approximately twenty minutes. While cooling, tomato/onion salad can be prepared. Once cooled, add ground chuck and salt. Lightly combine all ingredients until mixed, but do not overmix. Form six equally sized patties in dimensions that will fit neatly within dimensions of bread. Set aside while preparing the tomato onion salad and grilled ciabatta. To make the salad: In a medium mixing bowl, add red wine vinegar, pepper, 6 tbsp olive oil (reserve 6 tbsp for use on bread), remaining 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar and mix thoroughly, approximately one minute. Once emulsified, add onion and tomato. Toss so that dressing, tomato and onion are evenly distributed. Set aside. To toast the ciabatta bread: Combine 6 tbsp olive oil and garlic in a small bowl. Prepare bread by slicing lengthwise. If using large loaves, slice bread lengthwise then brush with olive oil/garlic mixture along interior cut edge so that olive oil/garlic mixture is evenly distributed along entire piece of bread. Ends of bread may be cut off to improve presentation. If using ciabatta rolls, size of bread will be similar to dimensions of burger. Slice lengthwise then brush with olive oil/garlic mixture along interior cut edge so that olive oil/garlic mixture is evenly distributed along entire piece of bread. Place bread cut side down on grill over medium heat and grill until light brown and fragrant, approximately one minute. Set aside until burger is assembled. To cook the patties: Brush the grill rack with olive oil. Increase the grill heat to medium high. Place the patties on the rack, cover, and grill until browned on the bottoms, approximately 6 to 7 minutes. Flip the patties over and continue grilling until done to preference, about 5 to 7 minutes longer for medium. Before removing from heat, patties should have an internal temperature of 160 degrees F for optimal safety. To assemble the burgers: On each roll bottom, place 1/6 of the shredded basil, a patty, and an equal amount of the tomato/onion salad. Add the roll tops and serve.