Italian Wedding Sliders with Wilted Kale and Spinach and Black Olive Mayonnaise
One of my favorite comfort foods is a big pot of soup, and Italian Wedding Soup is at the top of the list.And since Italian wedding soup has mini-meatballs, I thought I’d create baby burgers with those flavors in mind. The patties are filled with fresh herbs, parmesan cheese, and bread crumbs, just like the meatballs in the classic soup. I sautéed kale and spinach with crisp pancetta, garlic, and white wine for a vibrant green and tasty topping. To complement these flavors, I added fresh mozzarella melted over the patties and a simple black olive mayonnaise, along with the bright flavors of fresh tomato and basil leaves. Well-toasted focaccia rolls hold them together. Italian Wedding sliders—yes, I do.
2/3 cup pitted black olives
1 tablespoon coarsely chopped fresh Italian Parsley
1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
2 cloves minced garlic
1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs
1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
1/2 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
3 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
1 egg, beaten
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons black pepper
2 pounds ground chuck
1/2 pound mild bulk Italian sausage
Wilted Kale and Spinach:
4 ounces Pancetta, finely diced
2 cloves minced garlic
1/4 cup Sutter Home Chardonnay
3 cups tightly packed kale, ribs removed and coarsely chopped
3 cups tightly packed baby spinach
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Vegetable or olive oil for brushing on grill rack
12 slices fresh mozzarella at room temperature for easier melting
12 small focaccia rolls, about 3 x 3 inches, split horizontally, or 12 (3 x 3 inch) squares cut from a large loaf, split horizontally
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, for brushing buns
12 small tomato slices
12 large fresh basil leaves
Place the olives and 1 tablespoon parsley in a food processor and process until finely chopped, but not pureed. Place the mayonnaise in a medium mixing bowl and add the olives; stir together to combine. Refrigerate until needed, but let come to room temperature before using.
Prepare a medium hot fire in a charcoal grill with a cover, or preheat a gas grill to medium high.
To make the patties, combine the first 9 patty ingredients in a large bowl. Add the ground chuck and sausage and mix well, handling the meat as little as possible. Form 12 equal portions and shape the portions into patties the same size as rolls. Refrigerate until needed.
Place a large fire-proof skillet on the grill over direct heat until hot. Add the pancetta and cook until crisp and done. Add the 2 cloves minced garlic and cook for 2 minutes, stirring often. Add the wine and deglaze the pan, scraping up the bits from the bottom. Cook for about 3 minutes or until mixture reduces and thickens slightly. Add the kale and spinach and the 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper and the red pepper flakes, cooking for 3-4 minutes or until wilted but still vibrant green, stirring often. Remove from heat and keep warm.
Brush the grill rack with oil. Place patties on grill rack, cover, and cook, turning once, until done to preference, about 4-6 minutes on each side for medium. Place a slice of mozzarella on each patty during the last 2 minutes of grilling. Brush the cut sides of the rolls with the olive oil. Place the roll halves on the outer edges of the grill rack and toast cut sides. To assemble, spread the cut sides of the rolls with the olive mayonnaise. Place a spoonful of the greens on the bottom half of the bread, using a slotted spoon to drain excess liquid. Place a patty on the greens, then a tomato slice, followed by a fresh basil leaf. Cover with roll tops. 12 sliders or 6 servings.