The Caprese Cheeseburger

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by Katherine of The Parsley Thief

There really isn’t anything more American than a cheeseburger, and when I eat a cheeseburger I always eat it the same way. I have my favorite toppings and I stick with them – Wisconsin Fresh Mozzarella, sliced juicy tomatoes, and fresh pesto.

So for this cheeseburger recipe I used my favorite burger toppings as my inspiration, but threw in a twist, to create The Caprese Cheeseburger.

Caprese salad is an Italian dish made with ripe tomatoes, basil, Fresh Mozzarella and, usually, balsamic vinegar, either on its own, or as a vinaigrette.

In this cheeseburger, tomatoes come in the form of pickled tomatoes, basil and balsamic are in the mayo, and Wisconsin Fresh Mozzarella is piled high on the cheeseburger, where it can take center stage.

I began with a hand-formed beef patty and topped it with several slices of my favorite cheese – Wisconsin Fresh Mozzarella.

I then added pickled tomatoes and served it on a rustic ciabatta roll, slathered with a basil mayo – made with garlic and balsamic vinegar.

It’s the cheeseburger of my dreams.

The Caprese Cheeseburger

Serves 4

Cheeseburger

1 1/2 pounds ground beef
1 teaspoon kosher salt
16 ounces Wisconsin Fresh Mozzarella cheese
6-7 pickled tomatoes (recipe below)
4 ciabatta rolls
Basil mayo (recipe below)

Divide the beef into four 6-ounce portions. Roll each portion into a ball and place between two pieces of wax paper. Press down, with even pressure, onto the paper to form an approximately 1/2″ thick patty.

Preheat a well-seasoned cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Sprinkle the pan with the kosher salt. When hot, cook the hamburger for about 3-6 minutes per side, depending on how you like your burger cooked.

Cut the ciabatta rolls in half and coat each side with the basil mayo. Place the burgers on the rolls and top with a few slices of fresh mozzarella and the pickled tomatoes. Serve immediately.

Pickled Tomatoes

Serves 4-6

For this recipe I recommend using Campari tomatoes, which are available all year long. They are larger than cherry tomatoes, but smaller than regular ones. They tend to be sweet and lack the “mealiness” that some off-season tomatoes have.

7 small ripe tomatoes (about 10 ounces)
1 cup distilled white vinegar
1 cup water (plus more for peeling tomatoes)
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon sugar
2 cloves garlic (peeled)
4-5 large fresh basil leaves

Blanch the tomatoes – bring a kettle of water to a boil, cut an “X” into the bottom of each tomato and place them in a medium bowl; cover with the boiling water and let them sit for 1 minute then run some cold water over the tomatoes, to cool them down enough to handle. Peel away all of the skin, it should come off easily. Transfer the peeled tomatoes to a sterilized glass canning jar.

Combine the vinegar, water, salt and sugar in a small saucepan; bring to a boil. Simmer for 1-2 minutes, or until the salt and sugar have thoroughly dissolved. Let the mixture cool for about 10 minutes.

Add the garlic and basil leaves to the jar with the tomatoes. Add enough of the pickling liquid to cover the tomatoes by an inch or so. Seal the jar and leave in a cool, dark spot overnight.  Transfer to the refrigerator and chill, until ready to use. The tomatoes will be ready in 48 hours, but can be stored in the refrigerator for weeks.

Basil Mayo
Makes a 1/2 cup

1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil leaves
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
a hefty pinch of freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic

Put all of the ingredients in a mixing bowl and whisk well to combine.  Transfer to an airtight storage container and chill for 1 hour, or up to a week.

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