Summertime Siciliano Burgers with Basil-Taleggio Balm

Pairs well with:

Pinot Grigio

You won’t need a bouquet of flowers when you share our Pinot Grigio. This crisp wine with floral aromas is a wonderful way to make an entrance.

Italian food is my absolute favorite, so of course I wanted to create an Italian burger for this contest.I wanted it to be flavorful and summery, and I wanted to use some Italian ingredients I’ve recently fallen in love with: mortadella, Castelvetrano olives, and Taleggio. Mostly the Taleggio. I don’t think a more perfect cheese exists in the world.


6 ounces coarsely chopped mortadella
3/4 cup Castelvetrano olives, pitted
1/3 cup salted, shelled pistachios
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 lbs. ground chuck
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked pink peppercorns

Sweet Golden Tomato Salad
1 cup quartered yellow cherry tomatoes
1/3 cup sweet corn kernels
1/4 cup golden raisins
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons orange blossom honey
1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Basil-Taleggio Balm
4 ounces Taleggio cheese, rind removed, room temperature
2 tablespoons salted butter, room temperature
3 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh basil
1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest

Vegetable oil, for brushing on the grill rack
6 cornmeal-dusted Kaiser rolls, split
2 cups torn baby arugula


Prepare a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill with a cover, or preheat a gas grill to medium-high.

To make the patties, in a food processor, combine mortadella, olives and pistachios, and process until coarsely chopped; transfer mixture to a large bowl. Mix in garlic, chuck, sea salt and pepper. Combine well, handling the meat as little as possible to avoid compacting it. Shape into 6 patties.

To make the Sweet Golden Tomato Salad, in a medium bowl, stir together tomato, corn, raisins, lemon juice, honey and salt until well combined. Cover and chill until ready for use.

To make the Basil-Taleggio Balm, in a medium bowl, stir together Taleggio cheese, butter, basil, lemon zest and orange zest until well combined; set aside.

Brush the grill rack with oil. Place the patties on the rack, cover, and cook 5 minutes per side for medium, or until the desired doneness is reached. During the last few minutes of cooking, place the rolls cut side down on the outer edges of the rack to toast lightly.

To assemble the burgers, spread the Basil-Taleggio Balm over the cut sides of bottom and top rolls. Divide arugula onto bottom rolls, followed by a patty. Top patties with equal amounts of tomato salad. Add the roll tops and serve.

Makes 6 burgers