Arugula Pesto & Cambozola Cheese Burgers

These burgers are not only delicious, but they come with a story about faith and willpower. Seattle and the Pacific Northwest are famous for rainy weather. Not many people believe us when we say that the weather here during the summer is ideal, consistently staying in the 70’s during the day, and dropping a mere 10 degrees to the 60’s at night. However, Seattle’s summer weather may still maintain its mythical status to any outsiders who’ve visited here during June as temps have been a little bit cooler, and sadly, the drizzly days have been more frequent than usual. Here’s where the faith and willpower part comes in: planning a meal for the grill has required a lot of faith that the weather will eventually cooperate.

Luckily last week, we had at least four days in a row of gorgeous sunshine. Each afternoon, I’d start to approach my Weber with a desire for a grilled burger, oozing cambozola cheese and piled high with caramelized onions, but then I’d have to hold myself off. I knew my CSA delivery would be coming late in the week and that it would be carrying lots of arugula, green garlic, and chives. When I saw those items on the delivery list, they screamed, “Make us into pesto and slap us on those burgers!” It became a matter of having faith that the sunny weather would hold out so I could make the pesto burgers become a reality. It took sheer willpower to resist the lure of the grill on each of those sunny, warm days.

Hey– I never said this would be an inspirational story, but let’s just say that I was richly rewarded for my patience. I like my burgers cooked on the rarer side, crispy with a crust of slight char on the outside but still soft, tender and juicy on the inside. The cambozola (a rich blend of triple cream soft French cheese with Italian gorgonzola) was buttery and salty, the perfect offset for the pesto that was lively with peppery arugula with some soft heat from the fresh garlic and redolent with nutty crunch from roasted almonds. Yep– it’s good to listen to talking vegetables, er, I mean, to have faith in something.

Note: I like aiming for 1/3 pound burgers, finding 1/4 pounders to be a little skimpy and 1/2 pounders too heavy. So since there’s just the two of us, I usually make three patties from 1 lb of ground beef. Since there’s plenty of pesto here to make at least eight burgers, just increase the ingredients for the hamburger patties, not the pesto. Leftover pesto worked deliciously on top of a pizza crust with pieces of grilled/broiled chicken and a mix of mozzarella and ricotta salata cheese.

Pesto:

  • 1 cup roasted, unsalted almonds
  • 1/2 bunch arugula (about 1 to 1.5 cups)
  • 1 large clove green garlic, roughly chopped and outer skin removed
  • 5-6 fresh chives, quartered
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
  • Juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Burgers:

  • 1 lb grass-fed, 14% fat ground Angus beef
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 tablespoon Montreal steak grill seasoning
  • vegetable oil for brushing the grill
  • potato hamburger buns
  • 2 oz cambozola cheese

Place all pesto ingredients except the olive oil in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Turn on the food processor and slowly pour in olive oil through feed tube until pesto reaches desired consistency. Since this was a spread for burgers, I liked mine on more of a looser paste rather than runny sauce side. Remove to a bowl and set aside.

While your grill heats up, place ground beef in a medium bowl. Add the Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper and mix with your hands until just evenly distributed. Divide and shape into three equal patties. Sprinkle both sides of each patty with the steak seasoning. When grill is hot, soak a paper towel in vegetable oil and quickly brush the grill surface. Grill burgers to your desired degree of doneness (about 3-4 minutes per side for medium rare), topping patties with slices of cheese after the first flip half way through cooking time. Remove to a plate and tent with foil, letting them rest for 5 minutes before serving.

To serve, place burger on bun and top with a generous spoonful of pesto.

CSA Count: 3

Arugula, chives, green garlic

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