RECIPES: Recipe Details

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Tuscan Garden Grilled Beef Burgers

The humble yet exquisite flavors of Tuscan cuisine have continued to intrigue me since my sojourns to the region 3 times over the years. This burger is my culinary tribute to Tuscany with its earthy aromas, fresh ingredients and savory simple combinations-a veritable kaleidoscope of sparking flavors for all! Buon Appetito, Y’all.


1 lemon, divided usage
1 can(15.5oz) cannellini beans, rinsed, drained
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes or to taste
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil plus oil for brushing on grill

2 pounds ground chuck (80% lean)
1/2 cup finely chopped pepperoni slices
1/4 cup finely chopped shallots
1 tablespoon lemon pepper

6 slices fresh mozzarella (1 slice per burger)
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1 large heirloom red tomato, sliced
6 Kaiser or onion rolls, split
Romaine or other crisp lettuce


Prepare gas grill with a medium-hot fire for direct-heat grilling.

Herb Mayonnaise: Grate 1 teaspoon lemon zest from lemon and juice the lemon, making about 1 teaspoon. Combine zest, lemon juice and the other ingredients in blender, processing until smooth. Adjust seasonings to taste; refrigerate until ready to use.

Combine burger ingredients in large bowl; shape into 6 patties. Press down center of each patty with fingertips, creating a slight depression. Chill for 30 minutes.

Using a gas grill, brush grids with the additional olive oil. Cook patties on medium heat for a total of 8-10 minutes, turning once or to preferred doneness. During last 2 minutes of grilling, top each with one slice of cheese, allowing it to begin to melt. Remove to plate and sprinkle with basil: top with tomato slices, seasoning with salt and pepper.

During last few minutes of grilling, place rolls, cut side down around edges of grill and lightly toast. Spread insides generously with mayonnaise mixture. Place some lettuce on each roll bottom, topping with burger and cover with top. Serve with extra mayonnaise if desired.


Cook’s note: For an additional taste treat, lightly brush tops of burgers with porcini or truffle oil right before removing from grill-using about 1 tablespoon of the Tuscan oil. These oils are readily available in large supermarkets today. I wanted to include this in my recipe, but was concerned after reading the rules for this year’s competition.