Villa Italiano Burger (with Warm Grape-Olive-Walnut Tossed Arugula and Honey Kissed Lemon-Saffron Aioli)

Pairs well with:


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


Honey Kissed Lemon-Saffron Aioli:
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Pinch of saffron, threads crumbled
1/2 cup good quality mayonnaise
1 1/2 tablespoon honey
1/4 teaspoon grated lemon zest

2 pounds ground beef chuck
1/2 cup sundried tomato pesto
2 tablespoons finely chopped oregano leaves
1/2 cup finely chopped shallots
3 tablespoons Sutter Home Zinfandel
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground McCormick Peppercorn Medley

Warm Grape-Olive-Walnut Arugula Salad:
1/4 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
3 tablespoons Colavita Extra Virgen Olive Oil
2 garlic cloves, peeled, finely chopped
1/2 cup pitted, coarsely chopped nicoise olives
1/2 cup seedless, coarsely chopped green grapes
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups arugula
1 tablespoon Colavita Raspberry Basalmic Glace

Vegetable Oil, for brushing on grill rack
6 slices Capicola
6 slices Fontina cheese
2/3 cup shredded Asiago cheese
6 ciabatta bread rolls, split



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

To make lemon-saffron aioli: In a small bowl, combine lemon juice and saffron; let sit about 10 minutes. Add mayonnaise, honey, and lemon zest. Stir until combined. Cover; set aside.

To make patties: In a large bowl, combine the ground beef, sundried tomato pesto, oregano, shallots, Zinfandel, salt, and pepper. Handling the meat as little as possible to avoid compacting it, mix until just combined. Form the mixture into 6 equal sized patties to fit the bread rolls. Cover; refrigerate or place in cooler next to grill.

To make Grape-Olive-Walnut Arugula Salad: In a large fire proof nonstick skillet (with a lid), add walnuts. Cook, shaking skillet occasionally, over medium-high heat until walnuts are toasted, about 4-5 minutes. Immediately, remove from skillet; transfer to a bowl and set aside. In the same skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. When oil is hot, add garlic, olives, grapes, lemon zest, crushed red pepper, and salt. Cook, stirring often, until garlic is fragrant and grapes are soft, about 4-5 (making sure that garlic does not start to burn or it will be bitter). Transfer skillet to coolest part of the grill. Immediately, stir in arugula, raspberry balsamic glace, and toasted walnuts. Toss to mix. Cover to keep warm.

Brush the grill rack with vegetable oil. Place the patties on the rack, cover, and cook, turning once, until done to preference, about 4 to 5 minutes on each side for medium. During the last few minutes, place the bread rolls, cut side down, on the outer parts of the grill to toast slightly. Also during last few minutes of grilling, top each patty with a slice of Capicola, a slice of Fontina, and equal portions of Asiago. Cover grill; cook until patty is cooked to desired doneness.

To assemble burger: Spread a small amount of lemon-saffron aioli on cut sides of top and bottom buns. Top each bottom bun with a beef patty and arugula salad, dividing into equal portions. Close with top buns. Serve immediately.

Makes 6 burgers