Chicken, Pine Nut, and Cilantro Pesto Burgers with warm jalapeno feta-corn vinaigrette

Pairs well with:


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

I discovered that adding my homemade cilantro pesto to my ground chicken when making burgers resulted in a flavorful, moist burger.When making the cilantro pesto I was was inspired to add whole pine nuts to the burgers for a unique texture. The warm jalapeno feta-corn vinaigrette is a deliciously different way to top this.


Cilantro Pesto:
1 cup packed cilantro leaves
1/3 cup pine nuts
¼ cup shredded REAL CALIFORNIA Asiago cheese
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup mayonnaise

Jalapeno feta-corn vinaigrette:
2/3 cup REAL CALIFORNIA crumbled feta cheese
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons COLAVITA extra virgin olive oil
4 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
½ cup cooked corn
2 teaspoons finely minced, seeded jalapeno pepper

Vegetable oil for grill rack
2 pounds freshly ground chicken
¼ cup cilantro pesto (from recipe above)
½ cup pine nuts
½ cup fresh bread crumbs
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons TABASCO chipotle pepper sauce
2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided

6 white Kaiser bakery buns (about 4-inches in diameter), cut horizontally
12 ½-inch thick California avocado slices
6 pieces Romaine lettuce (same size as buns)
6 1/3-inch thick tomato slices from large red ripe tomatoes


Place cilantro and pine nuts in small bowl of food processor. Run until finely chopped. Add Asiago, garlic, lemon juice, salt and pepper, running to combine. Add olive oil slowly through shoot while machine is running and process until fully incorporated. Set aside ¼ cup pesto then stir remainder into mayonnaise.

Stir together all ingredients for jalapeno feta-corn vinaigrette in small bowl. Set aside.

In a charcoal grill with cover, prepare a medium-hot fire. In a large bowl combine ground chicken, reserved ¼ cup pesto, pine nuts, bread crumbs, egg, Tabasco, and 1½ teaspoons salt. Shape into 6 patties to fit width of buns and make a quarter size indention in center. Sprinkle patties with remaining ½ teaspoon salt. Brush preheated grill rack with vegetable oil. Place burgers on grill, cover and cook 5 to 7 minutes per side (or until burgers bounce back in middle when touched). During last couple minutes of cooking, place buns cut side down around edges of grill and lightly toasted. Also during last couple minutes of cooking, transfer feta vinaigrette mixture to a small heat-proof sauce pan and place on outer edges of grill just until warm.

Spread pesto mayonnaise on cut sides of bread. Top bottom buns with 2 slices avocado, burgers, and Romaine lettuce. Spoon warm jalapeno feta-corn vinaigrette over lettuce then top with tomato and top bun.

Servings: 6