Pita Burgers with In-N-Out Sauce

I’ve been wanting to put a big, juicy burger on the weekly meal plan for a while now and it finally happened this week. If I’m honest, I was imagining how delightful a photo of a burger would look on my Instagram feed more than I was actually wanting to eat a burger. As it happens, I am way more impressed by the quality of the burger than I am by the way the photos turned out. Go figure. It’s totally my mistake because in trying to keep my recipe weeknight-friendly, I used a pita to house my patty instead of the traditional hamburger bun. You may not know this…I didn’t…but pitas aren’t pretty to photograph. Live and learn.

Back to the burger. The patties themselves were simple. Ground chuck, salt, pepper and pinch of garlic salt. If you’re going to go big with the toppings, as I did, leave the beef alone so there aren’t too many competing flavors. You want the all around taste of the entire burger to be what you remember, not the overly seasoned beef. I cooked the patties diner-style on an electric griddle. For those of you who think a hamburger simply must be grilled, I’d love for you to give this method a shot. It gave them a really nice, crispy, brown crust.

The big flavor punch came in the toppings…plum tomatoes, butter lettuce, caramelized onions and my take on In-N-Out’s special sauce. You could (and probably should), add bacon to this burger to up the ante even more. You really can’t go wrong!

Pita Burgers with In N Out Sauce

For the burgers:

2 lbs. ground chuck
1 to 2 tablespoons canola oil 4 pitas
2 plum tomatoes
butter lettuce
1 onion, thinly sliced
1⁄2 stick of unsalted butter
salt and pepper, to taste

For the sauce:

1 cup mayo
2/3 cup ketchup
3 tablespoons dill pickle relish
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon brown sugar
salt and pepper, to taste

  1. For the sauce, add the mayonnaise, ketchup, relish, vinegar, brown sugar, salt and pepper to a bowl. Stir to combine. Set aside.
  2. Heat butter in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add onions and slowly cook to caramelize, about 20 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, heat a cast-­‐iron skillet or large heavy griddle pan over medium-­‐ high heat.
  4. Form chuck into 4 balls with your hands. Season balls with salt and pepper on all sides.
  5. Add the canola oil to the heated griddle. Place the burger balls on the griddle and sear for 1 to 2 minutes per side. Then, using a spatula, press the balls down, flattening them down as you spread them out. You want the patties to be about an 1⁄2 inch thick. Let the burger get a nice char on one side, and then flip so they get nice and crusty brown, 4 to 5 minutes per side.
  6. Half pita bread so that they are half-­‐circle pockets. Spread sauce on both inside walls of pita. Be generous. Add patty, lettuce, tomato and caramelized onions to pocket. Serve remaining sauce on the side. (If your burgers are too large for one pita pocket, cut them in half and make 2 or reserve as leftovers.)


Roasted Broccoli Pesto Pasta

Since I’ve already confessed my love of pasta to you guys, I figured it would be helpful to also share my favorite pasta sauce. You can cover pasta in almost anything…tomato sauce, meat sauce, cream sauce, cheese sauce, a light olive oil based sauce…or even a combination of a few of these. Anything goes! However, my personal favorite thing to douse my noodles in, is pesto.

Pesto is an herbaceous green sauce traditionally made up of basil, toasted pine nuts, parmesan cheese, garlic and extra-virgin olive oil. Throw all of those ingredients into a food processor and pulse away. YUM! Some people take one look at anything green and think it can’t possibly taste good. Not true, my friend. My dad is actually the perfect example of such a person. I made some pesto to go over a beef dish we had the other night and he was really unenthused about trying it. Green sauce? On beef? Pass the steak sauce, please. Luckly, one bite in he became a believer. I think I even saw him attempt to lick his plate clean…sorry Dad.

I love pesto because it makes me feel like I’m eating super light even when good old carbs are hiding out under all of that herby goodness. So what? At least I’m getting my veggies.

My latest pesto creation is even more exciting because it actually takes some veggies that are REALLY good for you and yet REALLY boring, and turns them into a flavorful and super healthy pasta topping. Yay for “healthy” and “pasta” to be found in the same sentence!

Roasted Broccoli Pesto Pasta is an awesome way to sneak veggies into a meal for a picky eater, but it’s also just a really fun way to enjoy your broccoli a little bit more than usual. Roasting makes anything taste better, but it has an especially awesome effect on broccoli. The crispy little brown bits give your pesto a deep, nutty flavor that you can’t achieve with simple pine nuts. The rest of the pesto recipe remains true to tradition, and is combined with a hearty whole-wheat penne pasta and cherry tomatoes. Serve as-is or top with pan-seared chicken breast. Enjoy!

broccolipesto

Ingredients:

1 package fresh broccoli florets
4 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
lemon, zested
1⁄2 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more for roasting
1⁄2 cup basil
1⁄2 cup pine nuts (toast them quickly in a dry sauté pan if you have time) 1⁄2 cup freshly grated parmesan
salt and pepper, to taste
1 package whole wheat penne pasta
1 pint cherry tomatoes

  1. Spread broccoli and garlic out on rimmed cookie sheet or roasting pan. Drizzle with salt, pepper, and olive oil.
  2. Roast broccoli 20 to 25 minutes at 425.
  3. Remove broccoli from oven and allow to cool slightly.
  4. Put roasted broccoli, basil, pine nuts, parmesan and lemon zest in a food

    processor. Turn on and slowly drizzle in extra virgin olive oil until pesto forms. You want the pesto to be thin enough to cover pasta like a sauce, but not so thinned out that it gets oily. Add more EVOO if needed to achieve this consistency.

  5. Season pesto with salt and pepper as needed.
  6. Toss pesto with cooked pasta and cherry tomatoes. Serve.