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.

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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.

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50 Responses to “The Little Italy Burger”

  1. #
    1
    Mother Rimmy — August 30, 2010 @ 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. #
    2
    Victoria K. — August 30, 2010 @ 3:48 am

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

    Reply

  3. #
    3
    Anna — August 30, 2010 @ 4:26 am

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

    Reply

  4. #
    4
    Mary — August 30, 2010 @ 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. #
    5
    Katerina — August 30, 2010 @ 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. #
    6
    Tanvi — August 30, 2010 @ 6:09 am

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

    Reply

  7. #
    7
    The Cilantropist — August 30, 2010 @ 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. #
    8
    Gitte — August 30, 2010 @ 10:41 am

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

    Reply

  9. #
    9
    Belinda @zomppa — August 30, 2010 @ 11:48 am

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

    Reply

  10. #
    10
    May Ling Wu — August 30, 2010 @ 12:03 pm

    yum panchatta and a burger what can beat that!

    Reply

  11. #
    11
    Carol Egbert — August 30, 2010 @ 12:14 pm

    Great post!Tomato butter sounds wonderful. Thanks.

    Reply

  12. #
    12
    Frank — August 30, 2010 @ 12:31 pm

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

    Reply

  13. #
    13
    Eileen — August 30, 2010 @ 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. #
    14
    Susi — August 30, 2010 @ 3:25 pm

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

    Reply

  15. #
    15
    Vanessa — August 30, 2010 @ 4:04 pm

    Wow that burger looks so delicious!!!

    Reply

  16. #
    16
    Priscilla - She's Cookin' — August 30, 2010 @ 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. #
    17
    sweetlife — August 30, 2010 @ 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. #
    18
    tasteofbeirut — August 30, 2010 @ 6:51 pm

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

    Reply

  19. #
    19
    Julie M. — August 30, 2010 @ 8:02 pm

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

    Reply

  20. #
    20
    Lisa {Authentic Suburban Gourmet } — August 31, 2010 @ 1:30 am

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

    Reply

  21. #
    21
    Magic of Spice — August 31, 2010 @ 1:36 am

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

    Reply

  22. #
    22
    citronetvanille — August 31, 2010 @ 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. #
    23
    5 Star Foodie — August 31, 2010 @ 5:39 am

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

    Reply

  24. #
    24
    Angie's Recipes — August 31, 2010 @ 11:17 am

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

    Reply

  25. #
    25
    Marisa — August 31, 2010 @ 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. #
    26
    Kristen — August 31, 2010 @ 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. #
    27
    Sandy a la Mode — August 31, 2010 @ 5:47 pm

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

    Reply

  28. #
    28
    Joudie's Mood Food — August 31, 2010 @ 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. #
    29
    Stella — August 31, 2010 @ 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. #
    30
    Juliana — September 1, 2010 @ 12:49 am

    Wow, this burger is absolutely mouthwatering…

    Reply

  31. #
    31
    Emily — September 1, 2010 @ 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. #
    32
    The Mom Chef — September 1, 2010 @ 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. #
    33
    Baking Barrister — September 1, 2010 @ 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. #
    34
    Sophie — September 1, 2010 @ 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. #
    35
    Pacheco Patty — September 1, 2010 @ 3:26 pm

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

    Reply

  36. #
    36
    Barbara — September 1, 2010 @ 4:14 pm

    Now THAT looks heavenly! I love those Italian ingredients.

    Reply

  37. #
    37
    Chocolate Freckles — September 1, 2010 @ 5:16 pm

    Mmmmmmmmmmmm BURGER!

    Reply

  38. #
    38
    Foodessa — September 1, 2010 @ 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. #
    39
    Lawyer Loves Lunch — September 1, 2010 @ 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. #
    40
    Kate — September 1, 2010 @ 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. #
    41
    momgateway — September 1, 2010 @ 10:00 pm

    glad I found your picture perfect blog!

    Reply

  42. #
    42
    Claudia — September 1, 2010 @ 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. #
    43
    Hyosun Ro — September 2, 2010 @ 3:42 am

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

    Reply

  44. #
    44
    denise @ quickies on the dinner table — September 2, 2010 @ 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. #
    45
    Rick — September 2, 2010 @ 12:53 pm

    It is so true about the familiar and unfamiliar!

    Reply

  46. #
    46
    Nirmala — September 2, 2010 @ 2:53 pm

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

    Reply

  47. #
    47
    Shirley — September 3, 2010 @ 4:28 am

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

    Reply

  48. #
    48
    Lori — September 3, 2010 @ 12:01 pm

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

    Reply

  49. #
    49
    Reeni — September 3, 2010 @ 3:12 pm

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

    Reply

  50. #
    50
    Chef Dennis — September 5, 2010 @ 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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