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Sweet & Savory Farmer’s Market Burgers with Goat Cheese, Strawberries, and Spicy Arugula

Growing up in Walnut Creek, California, one of my favorite memories is of visiting the Farmer's market with my mom every Saturday morning. We made it our goal to find fresh and exciting products, and I loved nothing more than the challenge of cooking with a new ingredient. I always think of local cheeses, freshly baked bread, ripe strawberries, and delicate herbs and salad greens when I think of our market. I've always adored salads dressed in balsamic vinegar, sprinkled with nuts, and studded with strawberries, so I came up with what I think is an incredibly innovative burger, yet a perfect representation of where our nation's cuisine is headed. America's cuisine has become more fresh, more local, and more open-minded with gourmet food shops, farmer's markets, and food media becoming more popular than ever. This burger pairs a fragrant goat cheese spread with spicy arugula, sweet strawberries, and tangy balsamic vinegar. If you're thinking, "strawberries?!? with a burger?!?" you've just got to try it.

Ingredients 

Goat Cheese and Walnut Spread
½ cup walnuts
1 cup goat cheese
½ cup cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Zest of 1 lemon
½ teaspoon salt

Balsamic Strawberries
1 ½ cups Balsamic vinegar
1 pint strawberries, hulled and sliced

Patties
2 lbs. freshly ground chuck
2 shallots, minced
2 tablespoons Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons chopped chives
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
2 teaspoons salt

Vegetable oil, for brushing grill rack
6 ciabatta rolls, split
2 tablespoons Colavita olive oil
2 cups baby arugula

Instructions 

Prepare a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill or preheat a gas grill to medium-high.
In a sauté pan over the grill, toast walnuts until they are fragrant and lightly browned. Combine walnuts with goat cheese, cream cheese, pepper, and lemon zest in a food processor and pulse until combined. Transfer to small bowl and set aside.

In a saucepan set over the grill, bring balsamic vinegar to a light simmer and reduce by about half to two-thirds to create a syrupy consistency, about 15-20 minutes. In a separate bowl, combine about half of the balsamic syrup and sliced strawberries. Set aside remaining syrup for later.

In a large bowl, gently combine ground chuck, shallots, Worcestershire sauce, chives, parsley, and salt. Mix gently to combine and divide mixture into 6 equal patties, either round or slightly square shaped, depending on the shape of the rolls you will be using. Brush grill rack with vegetable oil and place patties on grill. Cook, turning once, approximately 4-5 minutes per side for medium, or until desired doneness. Meanwhile, brush cut sides of ciabatta rolls with olive oil and place on outer edges of grill for about 1-2 minutes, until lightly toasted.

To assemble, spread ciabatta roll bottoms with approximately 2-3 tablespoons of goat cheese & walnut spread. Top with burger patties. Lay strawberry slices over patties and top with a pile of arugula. Drizzle with additional balsamic syrup, finish with ciabatta roll tops, and enjoy!