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Balsamic Lacquered Eggplant and Goat Cheese Burgers with Basil Mint Mayonnaise


2 lbs. ground chuck
½ cup grated onion
3 cloves minced garlic
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
¾ teaspoon pepper

Basil Mint Mayonnaise:
1 cup mayonnaise
¼ cup fresh basil, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh mint, chopped
1 ½ teaspoons lemon juice
½ teaspoon lemon zest

Balsamic Lacquered Eggplant:
1 cup balsamic vinegar
1 stem fresh rosemary
3 medium Chinese eggplants, sliced into ¼-inch slices
3 tablespoons olive oil
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper

¼ cup pine nuts
Vegetable oil for brushing grill rack
6 ciabatta rolls
1 cup loosely packed baby spinach leaves
4 oz. garlic and herb goat cheese


Prepare a medium-hot fire on a charcoal grill with a cover, or preheat a gas grill to medium high.
To make the patties, combine the ground chuck, onion, garlic, Worcestershire sauce, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Form into 6 patties, being careful not to overwork the meat. Make a slight indentation in the center of the patties so that they will cook evenly. Cover and refrigerate.
To make the basil mint mayonnaise, blend the mayonnaise, basil, mint, lemon juice, and zest in a mini food processor or blender. Cover and refrigerate.
Heat the balsamic vinegar and rosemary in a small, fireproof saucepan on the grill until it comes to a boil, then reduce the heat. Simmer for around 12 minutes or until the vinegar is reduced by half. Discard the rosemary stem. Set aside. Brush the eggplant slices with the olive oil and season them with salt and pepper. Grill the eggplant for around 3 minutes on each side, or until tender. Remove from the heat and set aside on a plate. Generously paint both sides of the eggplant slices with the balsamic rosemary reduction.
Toast the pine nuts in a small, fireproof skillet on the grill for 2-3 minutes until fragrant. Remove from the heat and set aside.
Brush the grill rack with vegetable oil. Place the burger patties on the rack, cover, and cook 4-6 minutes on each side for medium doneness. Place the ciabatta rolls, cut side down, on the outer edges of the rack to toast lightly during the last 2 minutes of grilling.
To assemble the burgers, spread some basil mint mayonnaise on the top and bottom half of each ciabatta roll. Arrange some baby spinach leaves on each bun bottom. Place a burger patty on top of the spinach and place approximately 4 slices of glazed eggplant on top. Crumble 1/6 of the goat cheese on top and sprinkle with toasted pine nuts. Add the roll tops and serve.
This recipe makes 6 burgers.


My name is Sonali Ruder and I’m an Emergency Room doctor in New York City, but in my free time, I love to cook and develop new recipes. Finishing as second runner-up at last year’s Build a Better Burger cook-off was an amazing experience, but this year, I would love the chance to compete again and bring home the grand prize. I wanted to create a Napa-style burger using simple, fresh ingredients. The sweet and smoky balsamic lacquered eggplant in this dish is nicely complemented by the creamy, tangy goat cheese and bright basil mint mayonnaise. And the pine nuts add nice flavor and texture to create a delicious burger. Enjoy!