Pilot News Recipe of the Day: Tasty Tuscan Burgers

Burgers are a staple of easy living. They can be enjoyed at lunch, dinner or even served miniature as hors d'oeuvres. Relatively easy to whip up, burgers are also a go-to meal when time is short but everyone is hungry.

Though burgers are simple to create and even easier to love, over time the same old burger recipe might need to be spiced up a little. Burgers can be modified with the addition of different toppings, but for home cooks who want a burger that is different from the inside out, they may want to go back to the culinary drawing board.

Experimenting with flavors can help you to create an entirely new burger that is a far cry from the cheese- and bacon-topped standard. For example, using flavors inspired from the Tuscan hillside can breathe new life into burgers. Consider this recipe for "Tasty Tuscan Burgers" and modify as necessary to whet your appetite.

Tasty Tuscan Burgers

Makes 4 servings

11/2 pounds ground pork or turkey (a white meat works best with the other flavors)
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese or pecorino romano
1/3 cup Italian-seasoned breadcrumbs
1 cup thinly chopped or grated zucchini
1 to 2 plum tomatoes, chopped
8 freshly chopped basil leaves or a teaspoon of prepared pesto
4 slices fresh mozzarella
4 slices red onion
4 leaves romaine lettuce
4 medium ciabatta rolls, split and lightly toasted
Salt and pepper

Garlic aioli garnish (recipe follows)

Mix together the ground meat, zucchini, breadcrumbs, grated cheese, tomatoes, and basil leaves together in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Divide mixture into four equal portions and form into patty shapes, roughly 1 inch thick.

Cook burgers via desired method (broiler, grill, stove top) until the bottoms are browned, about 6 minutes. Carefully turn over to cook the other side, another 4 to 5 minutes. Use an instead-read thermometer to determine doneness if you are unsure, depending upon whether you used turkey or pork.

Turn off heat and top each burger with a slice of mozzarella. Allow to just melt slightly.

Spread garlic aioli over ciabatta rolls and place a slice of red onion and lettuce on each bottom. Top with the burgers and finish off with the roll top. Enjoy with rosemary-seasoned potato wedges as a nice complement.

Basic Garlic Aioli

3 cloves chopped garlic
1 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon chopped fresh Italian parsley
Salt and pepper to taste

Use an immersion blender to combine all the ingredients in a small bowl. Wrap and refrigerate for around 30 minutes to enable to flavors to develop. Serve with burgers or other sandwiches.