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Tuscan Burgers with Caramelized Bell Pepper Relish, Feta Lime Mayonnaise, and Fried Spinach

I am the cook for a family of 7. Of course, with the hectic schedule that a large family brings, all my recipes must be fast and simple. When my wife and I married 9 years ago, she was not a fan of Feta cheese or spinach - two of my favorite ingredients. I began making a pizza with these ingredients that became such a family favorite, my wife wanted me to incorporate Feta and spinach in more dishes. This burger dish was born out of a desire to use the ingredients you see here in a burger - something the kids (ages from 7 to 24) will always eat!


Feta Lime Mayonnaise
4 oz. package crumbled feta cheese
¾ cup mayonnaise
1 lime – for juice
Fried Spinach
6 tablespoons olive oil (or enough to entirely cover bottom of pan) 6 oz package fresh baby spinach leaves
Caramelized Bell Pepper Relish
1/8 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes (pizza flakes)
1 onion – chopped fine
2 bell peppers (1 yellow and 1 orange), ribs & seeds removed, chopped fine
2 teaspoons salt
½ cup Chardonnay
2 tablespoons brown sugar
4 cloves of garlic – chopped fine
4 fresh basil leaves - chopped fine
4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 lbs ground chuck
Vegetable oil for brushing on grill rack
6 seeded hamburger buns


Prepare a medium hot fire in a charcoal grill with a cover, or pre-heat a gas grill to medium high. To make Feta Lime Mayonnaise, place feta cheese in bowl and break up any larger chucks. Add mayonnaise and the juice of 1 lime. Mix well. Mayonnaise does not have to be totally smooth. Cover and refrigerate until serving. To make the Fried Spinach, add olive oil to heat proof skillet. Place skillet on grill rack. When oil is hot, add a handful of spinach. Use tongs to turn frequently and do not overcrowd the pan so that the spinach will fry and not get wilted. When spinach leaves are bright green and crispy (about 1 minute), remove them to a paper towel to drain. Continue to add one handful of spinach at a time until all spinach is cooked. Cover and set aside fried spinach until serving To make Caramelized Bell Pepper Relish, add red pepper flakes to olive oil remaining in skillet. Place skillet on grill. When oil is hot, add chopped onion, bell peppers, and salt. When onions are almost translucent, add Chardonnay and brown sugar, and then cook until wine is reduced by half. Add garlic, basil, and balsamic vinegar. Sauté until liquid is absorbed and garlic is cooked. Divide this mixture in half. Cover half and set aside until service. The remaining half will go into the beef mixture in the next step. To make the patties, combine beef with ½ the Caramelized Bell Pepper Relish. Mix well, but handle as little as possible to avoid compacting the meat mixture. Divide the mixture into 6 equal portions and shape the portions into patties to fit the rolls. They should be about ½ inch thick. When the grill is ready, brush the grill rack with vegetable oil. Place patties on rack for thirty seconds then rotate patties ¼ turn (do not flip) to lesson sticking. Cover, and cook, turning once, until done to preference, 5 to 7 minutes on each side for medium. During the last few minutes of grilling, place the rolls, cut side down, on the outer edge of the rack to toast lightly. To assemble the burgers, spread a generous amount of the mayonnaise on the cut side of the top and bottom of each roll. On the bottom of each roll, place a layer of Fried Spinach, a patty, and 3 tablespoons of Caramelized Bell Pepper Relish. Add the roll tops and serve.


The beef in the patty is complimented with three distinctive flavors once this burger is assembled. The bite of the feta and mayonnaise - kicked up a bit by the lime, is followed by the earthly flavor of the spinach. Then the star of this burger - the Caramelized Bell Pepper Relish, comes through. Its sweetness balances the tartness of the Feta Lime Mayonnaise and provided a rich flavor for the burger. Since the Relish was also added to the patty before cooking, it calls attention to the patty by repeating the flavors in the topping. The Caramelized Bell Pepper Relish is also the secret of keeping this patty flavorful and moist.