Balsamic Lacquered Eggplant and Goat Cheese Burgers with Basil Mint Aioli

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Bright and full-bodied, this Zinfandel wine is a curious contradiction in tastes.

I decided to create this burger after eating a delicious eggplant and goat cheese salad.I loved the combination of the smoky eggplant and tangy goat cheese and decided to incorporate those ingredients into a burger. To add more layers of flavor, I reduce balsamic vinegar until it’s thick and sweet and brush the eggplant with it. And for some brightness, I slather the buns with an aioli made with fresh herbs and lemon juice. And finally, to add a nice crunch, I top the patties with toasted pine nuts. Enjoy!


2 lbs. ground chuck
1/3 cup grated onion
2 cloves minced garlic
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
¾ teaspoon pepper

Basil Mint Aioli:
1 cup mayonnaise
¼ cup fresh basil, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh mint, chopped
1 ½ teaspoons lemon juice
½ teaspoon lemon zest

Balsamic Lacquered Eggplant:
1 cup balsamic vinegar
2-3 medium Chinese eggplants, sliced into ¼-inch slices
3 tablespoons olive oil
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper

¼ cup pine nuts
Vegetable oil for brushing grill rack
4 oz. garlic and herb flavored goat cheese
6 good quality hamburger buns
2 cups loosely packed baby spinach leaves


Prepare a medium-hot fire on a charcoal grill with a cover, or preheat a gas grill to medium high.
To make the patties, combine the ground chuck, onion, garlic, Worcestershire sauce, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Form into 6 patties, being careful not to overwork the meat. Make a slight indentation in the center of the patties so that they will cook evenly. Cover and refrigerate.
To make the basil mint aioli, blend the mayonnaise, basil, mint, lemon juice, and zest in a mini food processor or blender. Cover and refrigerate.
Heat the balsamic vinegar and in a small, fireproof saucepan on the grill until it comes to a boil, then reduce the heat. Simmer for around 12 minutes or until the vinegar is thick and syrupy. Remove from heat. Brush the eggplant slices with the olive oil and season them with salt and pepper. Grill the eggplant for around 3 minutes on each side, or until tender. Remove from the heat and set aside on a plate. Generously paint both sides of the eggplant slices with the balsamic reduction.
Toast the pine nuts in a small, fireproof skillet on the grill for 2-3 minutes until fragrant. Remove from heat and set aside.
Brush the grill rack with vegetable oil. Place the burger patties on the rack, cover, and cook 4-6 minutes on each side for medium doneness. Crumble 1/6 of the goat cheese on top of each burger during the last 3 minutes of cooking. Place the buns, cut side down, on the outer edges of the rack to toast lightly during the last 2 minutes of grilling.
To assemble the burgers, spread some basil mint aioli on the top and bottom half of each bun. Arrange some baby spinach leaves on each bun bottom. Place a cheese-topped burger patty on top of the spinach and place approximately 4 slices of glazed eggplant on top. Sprinkle with toasted pine nuts. Add the bun tops and serve.