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Wine-and-Cheeseburger with Olive Pecan Spread and Caramelized Onions

As a midwestern gal, burgers have been a staple of balmy Indiana summers. I always look for a variation on the standard burger but can't seem to find it around town. I was inspired to create this burger recipe as a result of loving to prepare (and indulge in) a wine and cheese tray when friends gather and also my fond visits to my sister in Santa Rosa, California. Every time I indulge in wine and cheese it takes me back. Using this as an inspiration, I created a burger that has all of my favorite elements of this tray, including, of course, wine and cheese, olives and nuts. I used Sutter Home Cabernet Sauvignon wine for a very bold flavor which I wanted to stand out amongst the other flavors of the burger. My hope is that when you take a bite of this burger, you will be transported to Napa Valley and your memories will be flooded with great wine and cheese and lots of laugther and lasting memories. Enjoy!


Caramelized Onions:
1 large red onion, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon Colavita Extra Virgin Olive Oil
3 whole garlic cloves
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Olive Pecan Spread:
1 cup Kalmata olives, chopped
1 tablespoon Colavita Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Zest of half lemon
4 ounces whole milk Ricotta Cheese
1/4 cup chopped pecans
3 cloves roasted garlic (same cloves used above, see instructions) Patties:
2 pounds ground sirloin
1/4 cup Sutter Home Cabernet Sauvignon
Zest of one lemon
4 sprigs fresh thyme, chopped
1/2 teaspoon fresh nutmeg, grated
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons kosher salt
15 grinds fresh pepper
Vegetable Oil, for brushing on grill rack
4 Kaiser Rolls, split and brushed with Olive Oil
12 slices smoked Gouda (1/4 inch thick)
1 cup Arugula lettuce, stems removed


Directions: Prepare a medium-hot fire on charcoal grill using two layers of approximately 30 briquettes or preheat gas grill to medium high. To make caramelized onions, place onions, garlic, olive oil and salt in center of a large rectangular piece of heavy duty tin foil. Fold long edges into center, tightly rolling short ends to center to ensure a tight seal. Place packet on outer edges of coals while grill is preheating. To make olive pecan spread, combine olives, olive oil, lemon zest. Add in Ricotta cheese and pecans. The roasted garlic will be added once removed from grill and smashed with fork. To make Patties, combine ground sirloin, Cabernet Sauvignon, lemon zest, thyme, nutmeg, garlic, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Handling meat as little as possible to avoid compacting, mix well. With finger, lightly score six equal parts on top of meat. Form six patties, making center of each slightly cratered to ensure even size when grilling. When grill is ready, brush grill rack with vegetable oil. Place the six patties directly over coals, cover and cook each side 5-6 minutes for medium. Near the end of cooking burgers, remove onion foil pack with tongs and place rolls, cut side down, on outer edges of grill. During last couple of minutes add two slices smoked Gouda to each burger and cover grill to melt cheese. Remove garlic from skin by pinching flat end. Smash cooled garlic cloves and combine with olive spread mixture. To assemble burgers, place olive pecan spread on bottom half roll, add 4-5 leaves arugula, hamburger patty, and top with generous amount of caramelized onions. Add the top half of roll and serve. Makes six burgers.


I just had my first baby (well, he's one now) and my hope is that my winnings (I am confident in this recipe) will help to pay for his college education and MAYBE a pool for our back yard so we can have a taste of the California coast for at least a few months out of the year. When I close my eyes, I can dream... Thank you for your time and the opportunity to present you with this delicious recipe. Monica