4 portabello mushroom caps (about ¾ pound)
¼ cup olive oil, plus additional for brushing
1 teaspoon salt, plus additional to taste
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus additional to taste
3 pounds ground beef
1 cup prepared pesto (found in refrigerated section of the supermarket) or Homemade Pesto (following)
8 hamburger buns
6 ounces mozzarella cheese, thickly sliced, for serving (optional)
Grill basket (optional)
Makes about 1 cup pesto
4 ounces fresh basil, rinsed and trimmed, about 5 cups
¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil
½ cup pine nuts or slivered almonds
2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
½ teaspoon salt
In a bowl, gently toss the mushroom caps with the olive oil and the additional salt and pepper to taste.
In a separate bowl, mix together the ground beef, ½ cup of the pesto, and the 1 teaspoon each of salt and pepper until just combined. Form the beef mixture into eight 1-inch-thick patties.
Preheat the grill to medium-high heat and brush the grate with oil or spray with nonstick cooking spray.
Arrange the mushrooms in a single layer on the grill 9or in a grill basket). Close the cover and cook until the mushrooms are tender and juicy, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer the mushrooms to a plate and cover with aluminum foil to keep warm.
Place the burgers on the grill. Close the cover and cook to the desired doneness, 3 to 5 minuts per side. Let the burgers rest off the grill while toasting the buns.
Meanwhile, place the buns on the grill, cut side down, until lightly toasted, about 1 minute.
Thinly slice the mushrooms. If using the mozzarella cheese, place it on the burgers and transfer the burgers to the upper rack of the grill or away from direct heat until the cheese melts, 1 to 2 minutes.
Sandwich the burgers, mushrooms, and the remaining pesto inside the buns and serve.
Combine the basil, olive oil, pine nuts, garlic, and salt in the bowl of a food processor or blender; puree until smooth. The sauce can be stored in the refrigerator, covered, for up to 1 week or frozen for up to 6 months.
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