Pink-A-Licious Burgers with Cranberry-Walnut Pesto and Deconstructed Guacamole

Pairs well with:

White Zinfandel

With strawberry and melon essences, this American original is perfectly at home with however you like to unwind.

My inspiration for this recipe was cranberries and, to add a corny quote from a Sesame Street character, “Brought to you by the color pink.”I love cooking and creating new recipes and always try to challenge myself to incorporate an unexpected ingredient in a new way. As a child, I was never particularly fond of sweetened cranberries, but have grown to love fresh cranberries, particularly in savory dishes. They are tart and delicious and their beautiful reddish-pink hue adds a pop of color to my Pink-A-Licious Burger.


Cranberry-Walnut Pesto

1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup fresh or frozen cranberries (preferably fresh, but thawed frozen cranberries can be substituted if out of season)
1 cup roughly chopped flat-leaf parsley, loosely packed
1 cup roughly chopped cilantro, loosely packed
3 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup Colavita extra virgin olive oil


2 pounds freshly ground beef chuck (80% lean, 20% fat)
1/4 cup Sutter Home White Zinfandel, chilled
1/4 cup finely chopped shallot
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup coarsely crushed pink peppercorn

Deconstructed Guacamole

6 thin slices from a large red onion
2 large ripe California Avocados; halved, pitted, peeled and thinly sliced
reserved 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped cranberries from pesto
2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro
1 clove garlic, minced
juice of one lime
1/2 cup Colavita extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup pomegranate infused red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Colavita olive oil, for brushing on the grill rack
6 sturdy, good-quality sesame seed hamburger buns, split
Colavita extra virgin olive oil, for brushing on the buns
6 cloves garlic, peeled and halved
6 red leaf lettuce leaves, large enough to fit the bun


To make pesto, place walnuts in a small, dry fire-proof skillet on the grill over medium heat. Stir, gently toasting until lightly toasted and slightly fragrant, about 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat. In the work bowl of a food processor, pulse the cranberries until coarsely chopped. Remove 2 tablespoons of the chopped cranberries and set aside for later use. Add the toasted walnuts, parsley, cilantro, garlic, lime juice, salt, and black pepper to the work bowl. Pulse 4-6 times, or until coarsely chopped. With the motor running, slowly add the extra virgin olive oil. Blend until mixture has a thick consistency, but still retains some texture. Be careful not to over process; flecks of herbs, walnuts, and cranberries should still be visible. Place in a small bowl; cover and refrigerate.

To make the patties, combine ground chuck, White Zinfandel, shallot, garlic, salt, and black pepper in a large bowl, using a spoon to mix. Divide mixture into 6 equal portions. Handling as little as possible, loosely shape each portion into a ball and lightly roll in the crushed pink peppercorn. Place each portion in between sheets of waxed paper. Rather than shaping patties by hand, to keep from melting fat, use bottom of a small, chilled plate to form patties by gently pressing down until desired thickness is achieved. Reshape edges; if desired. Loosely cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to grill.

To make deconstructed guacamole, place onion and avocado slices in the bottom of a shallow dish. In a small bowl, whisk together reserved cranberries, cilantro, garlic, lime juice, extra virgin olive oil, vinegar, salt and black pepper until well combined. Pour mixture over onion and avocado slices; cover and refrigerate.

Heat the grill to medium-high. When the grill is ready, brush the grill rack with olive oil. Place the patties on the rack, cover, and cook, turning once, until done to preference, 5 to 7 minutes on each side for medium. During the last few minutes of cooking, brush the buns to taste with extra virgin olive oil. Place the buns, cut side down, on the outer edges of the rack to toast lightly. Remove buns from grill and rub cut sides of each bun with 1/2 garlic clove.

To assemble the burgers, spread about a tablespoon of pesto over the cut sides of each bun. On each bun bottom, place one lettuce leaf and a patty. Using a large slotted spoon, letting some excess liquid drain back into bowl, place equal parts of guacamole on top of patties. Add the bun tops and serve. Makes 6 burgers.