I know fresh tomatoes and basil may be kind of summery, but we still have good tomatoes in Santa Barbara, and it’s been 70+ degrees!

This is a great variation on the traditional burger that everyone loves. I made these for a dinner party and everyone raved about them. I used beef, but turkey would be good too. Take a few minutes to make homemade pesto, it’s quick and easy, and don’t skimp – slather it on those buns!

Hiding a chunk of mozzarella cheese in the middle of the patty makes for a nice gooey surprise.

1 pound ground sirloin (at least 20% fat; you’ll need the juices for flavor and moisture) (or turkey!)
1-2 garlic cloves, smashed
Italian seasoning
Salt and pepper to taste (careful, Italian breadcrumbs have salt in them)
1 egg
1/2 cup Italian-seasoned breadcrumbs

Mozzarella cheese (the best quality you can afford)
1 beefsteak tomato
Basil leaves
Hamburger buns, panini rolls, or ciabatta

In a large bowl, mix together the first 6 ingredients, being careful not to over-work the meat and make it dense. Shape into 1-inch thick patties, hiding a small chunk of mozzarella cheese in the middle.

Cook over medium-hot grill until meat is no longer pink. Let rest on a plate, covered, for 2-3 minutes while juices are absorbed.

Assemble burger with patty on bottom, one slice of mozzarella cheese, one slice of tomato, and a few basil leaves. Spread pesto sauce on top and bottom of toasted hamburger buns.

Adapted from my friend Sarah‘s recipe.

1 clove of garlic, chopped
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 good handfuls of fresh basil, leaves picked and chopped
a handful of pine nuts, very lightly toasted
a good handful of freshly grated Parmesan cheese
extra virgin olive oil

In a food processor or blender, pulse garlic, salt and pepper, and basil, pine nuts, Parmesan, Slowly add olive oil – you need just enough to bind the sauce and get it to an oozy consistency. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Adapted from Jamie Oliver’s pesto recipe

photo by Sarah Paskin