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The Little Italy Burger

We Americans like our comfort food. We are always trying to turn the unfamiliar into the familiar. You have to agree, this is a better than the old tradition of shunning the unfamiliar altogether! American fusion food is a great example of this new-found fascination. Dishes such as Mexican pizza and Asian-style hot dogs are just the beginning of our efforts to bring world flavors into the main stream. You can hardly go out-to-eat without seeing menus with ingredients from all over the globe. What an exciting time in culinary history!

Italian food has made its way, full-force, into the heart of America. Very few people here would ever think of it as an exotic style of cooking. Americans eat pizza, pasta, cured meats, and cheese in enormous amounts, probably only comparable to the eating habits of, let’s say…Italians!? So I thought it would be fun to take the comforting flavors of Italy and layer them, like a warm fuzzy blanket, over the only thing that might be even MORE comforting. A hamburger.

Introducing the Little Italy Burger. All my favorite Italian flavors in one meaty sandwich! Fresh smoked mozzarella cheese, pesto, pancetta, red onions, ripe tomato slices, arugula and tomato-butter on a ciabatta bun. It’s a glorious dripping tower of international bliss–American style!

To prepare:

Heat the grill to high. Divide the ground beef into 4 portions. Salt and pepper and press into patties. Layer each patty with a slice of pancetta on top and bottom. Press the pancetta into the patty.

Cut the onion and mozzarella into rounds.

Melt the butter and mix it with the tomato paste and anchovy paste.

Cut the ciabatta buns and brush the insides with tomato-butter.

CAREFULLY brush the grill with oil or use non-stick grill spray. Grill the patties and onions at the same time. Grill the patties for 3-5 minutes per side and the onions for 1-2 minutes per side.

Once you flip the burgers, lay the onion rounds over the top of each patty, followed by the mozzarella slices. The cheese will melt while the burgers finish cooking.

Place the buns on the open grill and toast for 1 minute.

Once the buns are toasted, slather them with pesto. Layer arugula leaves, tomato slices and a patty on each bun. Top and serve! Serves 4.

Little Italy Burger

Ingredients:

1 ½ lbs. ground beef
8 slices pancetta
1 jar of good pesto
1 large ball smoked mozzarella
1 red onion, cut into thin rounds
3 Tb. butter
2 tsp. tomato paste
1 tsp. anchovy paste
Baby arugula
Ripe tomato slices
4 ciabatta buns

Basic Pesto:
2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup pine nuts
2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup freshly grated Pecorino cheese

Directions:

Heat the grill to high. Divide the ground beef into 4 portions. Salt and pepper and press into patties. Layer each patty with a slice of pancetta on top and bottom. Press the pancetta into the patty.

Cut the onion and mozzarella into rounds.

Melt the butter and mix it with the tomato paste and anchovy paste.

Cut the ciabatta buns and brush the insides with tomato-butter.

CAREFULLY brush the grill with oil or use non-stick grill spray. Grill the patties and onions at the same time. Grill the patties for 3-5 minutes per side and the onions for 1-2 minutes per side.

Once you flip the burgers, lay the onion rounds over the top of each patty, followed by the mozzarella slices. The cheese will melt while the burgers finish cooking.

Place the buns on the open grill and toast for 1 minute.

Once the buns are toasted, slather them with pesto. Layer arugula leaves, tomato slices and a patty on each bun. Top and serve! Serves 4.

I used a jar of good-quality pesto a friend gave me. Feel free to make your own!

For Pesto: Combine the basil, garlic, and pine nuts in a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped. Add 1/2 cup of the oil and process until fully incorporated and smooth. Season with salt and pepper.

Making this recipe? Why not take a quick shot and share it on Instagram! Make sure to tag it #ASpicyPerspective so we can see what you're cooking!

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50 Responses to “The Little Italy Burger”

  1. Mother Rimmyposted August 30, 2010 at 3:13 am

    I hope you've entered this recipe into a burger contest. It's unique and looks fantastic. I bet you could win!

    Reply

  2. Victoria K.posted August 30, 2010 at 3:48 am

    OMG you are a burger goddess. I wouldn't change a thing!!

    Reply

  3. Annaposted August 30, 2010 at 4:26 am

    Oh boy! This burger looks so amazing, loooooooved the tomato butter idea.

    Reply

  4. Maryposted August 30, 2010 at 4:56 am

    I surrender. You are the hands down winner in the burger department. These sound other worldly. I hope you are having a great day. Blessings…Mary

    Reply

  5. Katerinaposted August 30, 2010 at 5:32 am

    These burgers look absolutely fantastic. I love burgers and surely yours would be my recipe to go. Thanks for sharing!

    Reply

  6. Tanviposted August 30, 2010 at 6:09 am

    What a burger!Absolutely delightful!
    Will try with minced chicken!…and that tomato butter rocks!
    :)

    Reply

  7. The Cilantropistposted August 30, 2010 at 7:12 am

    This sounds TOTALLY awesome. My mouth is watering, literally. And I dont think it would be wise for me to whip up one of these burgers this late at night. I suppose I will have to wait until next weekend for labor day. *sigh* It will be hard to wait that long… ;)

    Reply

  8. Gitteposted August 30, 2010 at 10:41 am

    Very interesting burger and I love the italian spin. Sounds delicious.

    Reply

  9. Belinda @zomppaposted August 30, 2010 at 11:48 am

    This is a perfect burger, complete with ciabatta. This is triple comfort.

    Reply

  10. May Ling Wuposted August 30, 2010 at 12:03 pm

    yum panchatta and a burger what can beat that!

    Reply

  11. Carol Egbertposted August 30, 2010 at 12:14 pm

    Great post!Tomato butter sounds wonderful. Thanks.

    Reply

  12. Frankposted August 30, 2010 at 12:31 pm

    Neat idea! I'm not much of a hamburger maven but this one looks like a must try!

    Reply

  13. Eileenposted August 30, 2010 at 1:10 pm

    Speaking of delivery… 12 noon is okay with me – lol… Burgers look great – I love home grilled burgers the best.

    Reply

  14. Susiposted August 30, 2010 at 3:25 pm

    What a unique and delicious looking burger! It's making my mouth water big time! Thanks for sharing!

    Reply

  15. Vanessaposted August 30, 2010 at 4:04 pm

    Wow that burger looks so delicious!!!

    Reply

  16. Priscilla - She's Cookin'posted August 30, 2010 at 5:29 pm

    We love our comfort food and there's nothing like a juicy burger! And with pancetta – what's not to like ;)

    Reply

  17. sweetlifeposted August 30, 2010 at 6:07 pm

    Oh sommer what a perfect burger, first your perfect peach salad and now your fab burger, really great labor day ideas!! yum, love the pic of the bitten butger!!

    sweetlife

    Reply

  18. tasteofbeirutposted August 30, 2010 at 6:51 pm

    Love your foray into Italian cuisine via American and burger food! Very clever and very tasty too.

    Reply

  19. Julie M.posted August 30, 2010 at 8:02 pm

    Sommer, this burger looks absolutely delicious! I love the addition of pancetta. Save one for me please!

    Reply

  20. Lisa {Authentic Suburban Gourmet }posted August 31, 2010 at 1:30 am

    That burger is to die for!!! All of my favorite Italian ingredients. Yummy!!!

    Reply

  21. Magic of Spiceposted August 31, 2010 at 1:36 am

    I don't even eat meat, but love this…These flavors are fantastic :)

    Reply

  22. citronetvanilleposted August 31, 2010 at 5:00 am

    Oh how beautiful this burger is. Even though I don't eat burgers, this one is really tempting and mouthwatering!

    Reply

  23. 5 Star Foodieposted August 31, 2010 at 5:39 am

    An excellent burger, I love the combo of pancetta and mozarella and pesto here!

    Reply

  24. Angie's Recipesposted August 31, 2010 at 11:17 am

    They look excellent! A perfect combination of flavours. Who said "burgers" are the junk food?

    Reply

  25. Marisaposted August 31, 2010 at 5:43 pm

    Italian Burger…I'm sold! Love the pancetta, tomato butter, and pesto. Put it all on ciabatta and that's pretty much heaven. I think this would also be good with some other meats mixed in the burger like pork and veal.

    Reply

  26. Kristenposted August 31, 2010 at 5:46 pm

    I'd like to be nearby when you make these just to smell the aroma of those amazing burgers grilling. Yum!!

    I have a question about the examiner gig you have going. How often do you have to post?

    Reply

  27. Sandy a la Modeposted August 31, 2010 at 5:47 pm

    my do these look delicious!! must try it out sometime!!

    Reply

  28. Joudie's Mood Foodposted August 31, 2010 at 9:09 pm

    You had me at smoked mozzarella. YUMMY YUMMY IN MY TUMMY! This looks so good to me. I am going to make it. My husband has been challenging me to make him the ultimate burger and i think i found it!

    Reply

  29. Stellaposted August 31, 2010 at 11:24 pm

    Good idea, Sommer! I love fusion food-there is no shame in it, girl (smile). Plus, this looks really wonderful. Oh, how I do miss burgers…Oh;)

    Reply

  30. Julianaposted September 1, 2010 at 12:49 am

    Wow, this burger is absolutely mouthwatering…

    Reply

  31. Emilyposted September 1, 2010 at 1:14 am

    This burger looks delicious. Great pictures, too. And you're right, we Americans really can't resist good comfort foods!

    Reply

  32. The Mom Chefposted September 1, 2010 at 1:44 am

    Glorious. Delicious and glorious. Of course, if you could please make mine with a bit more pink in the middle? Medium rare is perfect. Wow, that looks so good.

    Reply

  33. Baking Barristerposted September 1, 2010 at 3:41 am

    You know I like pesto on burgers, but I definitely think adding pork into the mix is a brilliant idea. This is one of the better versions of fusion food–some of it is SO weird!

    Reply

  34. Sophieposted September 1, 2010 at 1:20 pm

    Waw!! I love everything in & round & on top of that burger!! It all looks so tasty & mighty pretty too!

    MMMMMMMMMM,..fantastic real flavours in here & I also love the fact that you made your own pesto!

    Yummmm,…!!!

    Reply

  35. Pacheco Pattyposted September 1, 2010 at 3:26 pm

    Perfect Italian style burgers, very creative, I think you nailed all the flavors and they look grilled to perfection:)

    Reply

  36. Barbaraposted September 1, 2010 at 4:14 pm

    Now THAT looks heavenly! I love those Italian ingredients.

    Reply

  37. Chocolate Frecklesposted September 1, 2010 at 5:16 pm

    Mmmmmmmmmmmm BURGER!

    Reply

  38. Foodessaposted September 1, 2010 at 6:02 pm

    Sommer…you certainly know how to dress up a great looking and tasty burger ;o)

    Your photo captures are splendid!

    Ciao for now,
    Claudia

    Reply

  39. Lawyer Loves Lunchposted September 1, 2010 at 7:21 pm

    I'm so glad hamburgers are your comfort food! And yay for ciabatta! It's way better than using hamburger buns which are kinda boring and don't hold up to a hearty burger :)

    Reply

  40. Kateposted September 1, 2010 at 9:31 pm

    Love it!!! I've been craving a good burger and this one takes the cake. Something's going off the menu for next week and this is going on. If Connie wasn't playing bridge tonight and if I didn't have a meeting that starts in a few minutes and will last for about two hours I'd be heading to the grocery to get the ingredients right now :-) Kate @kateiscooking

    Reply

  41. momgatewayposted September 1, 2010 at 10:00 pm

    glad I found your picture perfect blog!

    Reply

  42. Claudiaposted September 1, 2010 at 11:24 pm

    This is one scrumptious Italiano burger! You went all out – just as the Italians do. I think there's at least three courses packed in that burger.

    Reply

  43. Hyosun Roposted September 2, 2010 at 3:42 am

    Very creative and original! I really want to make this. Thanks for sharing it.

    Reply

  44. denise @ quickies on the dinner tableposted September 2, 2010 at 10:01 am

    Best burger I've seen so far – honestly! Smoked mozzarella, pancetta, anchovy paste, arugula, red onion, pesto and SQUARE BUNS!!!

    *THUD*

    Reply

  45. Rickposted September 2, 2010 at 12:53 pm

    It is so true about the familiar and unfamiliar!

    Reply

  46. Nirmalaposted September 2, 2010 at 2:53 pm

    Wow! This looks so great. I want to take a bite.

    Reply

  47. Shirleyposted September 3, 2010 at 4:28 am

    Amazing the bun will contain so much. I'm lovin the idea of tomato butter.

    Reply

  48. Loriposted September 3, 2010 at 12:01 pm

    What a fabuolous idea. You are so right. Italian food is so big.

    Reply

  49. Reeniposted September 3, 2010 at 3:12 pm

    How insanely delicious! This would be a huge hit in my house. Everything we love – on a burger!

    Reply

  50. Chef Dennisposted September 5, 2010 at 11:35 am

    Now that is one great burger! The pancetta must have added some wonderful flavors, and your tomato anchovy on that beautiful bread sounds so good, you could have probably just eaten the bread by itself!
    thanks for coming up with this masterpiece!

    Reply

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