Mediterranean-style Burgers with Eggplant, Tapenade and Smoked Mozzarella
These burgers were inspired by my Italian upbringing.The Italian family always has a garden that includes plenty of tomatoes, eggplant and arugula. Adding the eggplant to the burger adds a tangy kick. The mozzarella adds a bit of smokiness. The arugula adds just the right amount of crunch. And as for mayonnaise on a burger, that is a No NO, hence the use of a vinaigrette. The All-American burger? You bet!
2-1/4 pounds ground beef chuck
1/2 cup black olive tapenade
3/4 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
6 thin slices smoked mozzarella cheese
2 large tomatoes, each cut into 3 half-inch slices
6 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 eggplant, cut across into 6 half-inch slices
2 ciabatta loaves, split, each cut into three 4-1/2 inch portions
1/2 cup purchased Italian vinaigrette dressing
1 cup packed arugula leaves
Heat gas grill at moderately high heat.
Divide beef into 6 equal portions. Divide one portion in half and flatten it to a 4-inch round. Top with 1 tablespoon tapenade. Flatten the other half to a 4-inch round and place over the tapenade, pressing the edges to seal completely. Repeat with remaining 5 portions. Season both sides of burgers with 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Brush grill with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Grill burgers 3-4 minutes per side, or to desired doneness. Place a slice of smoked mozzarella cheese on each burger during the last few minutes of grilling.
Arrange tomato slices in a single layer on a plate. In a small bowl mix 5 tablespoons olive oil and vinegar. Drizzle half this mixture over the tomatoes. Sprinkle oregano and 1/4 teaspoon salt over the tomatoes. Set aside. Brush remaining oil mixture over the eggplant slices. Grill eggplant 4-5 minutes per side or until tender. Toast ciabatta portions, cut side down, on the outer edge of grill.
To assemble burger: in a medium bowl mix 1/4 cup dressing and arugula leaves until evenly coated. Place 1/6 the arugula leaves on the bottom of each ciabatta portion. Top each with a burger, slice of eggplant and tomato slice. Drizzle about 2 teaspoons dressing over each. Place tops on ciabattas. Enjoy! Pair these burgers with Sutter Home Cabernet Sauvignon. Serves 6.