Pesto Burgers

I’m not posting these because it’s Memorial Day or even because it’s National Hamburger Month. I’m posting these because I love this pesto and because I need to let you know how easy it is to make a plain burger really exciting.

Just for some background: just like Sunday Tomato Sauce and Pasta Tosses are my go-to in the Fall/Winter for creative but easy dinners, burgers and salads are my go-to in the Spring/Summer. I just love to have fun with them and try a million different options. And I always make my own burgers. I just love being in control of every single bite (and I know I say this a lot, but I mean it- it’s so easy!!). And- I love to have fun with tons of different toppings. I started off really basic this month but have so many plans to make a million different burgers before fall arrives (oh, the possibilities are endless).

This pesto burger just kind of happened. I wanted to make sliders and wanted each of them to be totally different. I had pesto on hand and used smoked mozzarella as the cheese. They turned out really great. The next day, I was so happy with them that I made chicken sliders for dinner and really enjoyed. Like I said, this pesto goes with everything- the possibilities really are endless!

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Pesto

Even though my dreams of walking over to my fire escape, lifting the window, and picking a hefty bunch of fresh basil may not come true this summer (hey I’m not giving up- just being a little realistic) it doesn’t mean that I still don’t get to indulge in one of my summer favorites: pesto.

I think I’ve always loved pesto- simply because I can’t remember a time I didn’t like it (I remember all too well when I didn’t like mustard or cauliflower or…). I even remember it being the first meal my Aunt had when she arrived in Italy to visit me. My Aunt Liz loves Italian food so visiting me in Italy was like her going home in a way. She wanted to taste the best of the best and I brought her to my favorite Florentine restaurant: Il Contadino.

It was a tiny, hole on the wall kind of place. With a fixed price menu, awesome house wine, and super helpful staff, it was my diamond in the rough. One of my fave Florentine finds.

Doesn't she look a little skeptical?

Needless to say, Liz was not impressed. Liz wanted the fancy place, the restaurant people flew to eat at from all over the world. But that’s not what I wanted her to taste. Florence was a city of simple elegance. Like its food, the restaurant was no fuss but all substance.

Liz ordered the pesto and was dismayed when it came over fettuccine. Fettuccine? That is not how we serve it at home. But nonetheless she swirled that thick creamy sauce into the pasta and took a bite. I could tell from her face- she was in heaven. This may not have been her dream restaurant but the pesto was a winner.

And all pesto is not created equal. I spent all last summer dumping ingredients into my food processor, without caring for quantities, and coming out with a subpar pesto. This summer I learned my lesson. Find a simple recipe and follow.

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Homemade Herbs

I’m starting to notice that, little by little, I become more and more like my parents. More than I’d like to admit. I have my dad’s short temper and my mom’s dry sarcasm. So when I started to pick up some good habits, like my mom’s knack for finding great deals and my dad’s green thumb, I got very excited.

Now, about that green thumb, this isn’t something that’s coming with the greatest of ease for me. When I first moved into my teeny-tiny apartment, I decided to christen the place with my first plant. I wasn’t so great at first but, in time, this little plant has really grown into something meaningful- something I took care of and grew. That same summer I went to the Union Square Market and bought Basil plants and Parsley plants and they both kicked my butt. The parsley more than the basil- that thing just wouldn’t grow! But with what little I had of the basil I made the yummiest pesto. That was a great summer.

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