Saturday, July 11

How to add a new vegetable to your life - Italian BBQ Sausage Patty Melt with Broccoli Rabe

Summer to me means bbq. Yes I think in terms of pictures and or food. Its a gift or a curse depending on how far I am away from the kitchen. So as the smell of the bbq fills the weekend air, its the perfect time for a cheeseburger. But...summer also has that conflict between eating lots of grilled foods and still being able to look good in a pair of shorts. Its over 105 degrees at my house... shorts and t-shirts are a must. So let me show you an easy way to add a new veggie into your life with a cheeseburger instead of a salad.

Who doesn't love a good cheeseburger? 

Cheeseburgers are familiar, easy to bbq, great for company and kids. Lets imagine what if our juicy everyday cheeseburger met up with a cheesy patty melt, went on vacation to Italy, and had a burger baby.... that would be the perfect place to put a new vegetable. Not crazy but had two cups of coffee and was up twice with a baby - not exactly running on a ton of sleep but stick with me. I promise real good eats... Think about all those great Italian flavors: onion, garlic, paprika, provolone cheese wrapped up between two of your favorite hamburger buns or lettuce leaves*. 

*P.S. Lettuce wraps in the place of a bun wouldn't work here without some major modifications but if you grilled some romaine it could work and you really could get that great summer bbq smokiness. Just grill the lettuce separately from the meat and the cheese and skip the patty melt part.


What new vegetable are we talking about here? 

This week my family had broccoli rabe for the first time. This veggie may be old hat for those well versed in the produce department but I was pretty excited. I was even more excited when my family ate it without even blinking an eye - maybe the super melted cheese and yummy Italian cheeses and meat helped. I didn't even have to ask the people at the store to help me find it because I googled pictures of it on the way there! Yeah some people google people, I google food. I know I am a little obsessed.  

You should try this this new to me veggie because it is fun and tastes great. Broccoli rabe is a leafy veggie with little tiny broccoli crowns about the size of a small bouncy ball or a 3d quarter hidden around the leaves. It does taste similar broccoli thus its name. But a milder broccoli taste with a sassy surprising edge that reminded me of the difference between parsnips and carrots. It is loaded with nutrients like fiber, protein, vitamins A, B-6, B-12, C, iron, calcium, and magnesium. So skip the multi-vitamin and try a burger recipe and a new vegetable into your diet. 

I found this patty melt recipe in an old Rachael Ray cooking magazine 3 years ago. Like most Rachael Ray recipes it has a long list of ingredients. While I am sure this Italian beaut is worth all the effort, I have a sick little guy, and a household to run, so I simplified it, creating a fun twist with a bbq that uses less ingredients, less time, and less dishes than the original recipe. This amazing burger creation, my really really good Italian bbq Sausage Patty Melt with broccoli rabe took less than 25 minutes. Your taste buds will love it, and your body will love another dose of healthy. 

Who says comfort food can't be healthy? Lets slice up some watermelon, grill up or boil some corn on the cob, and lets get this summer weekend food started! 


Italian BBQ Sausage Melt with Broccoli Rabe
Recipe adapted from: Rachael Ray Magazine 
Serves 3 adults

Ingredients
2 handfuls of Broccoli Rabe
1 lb of sweet Italian ground sausage
1/3 cup of grated good quality parmesan cheese
softened butter (for spreading on bread)
6 slices of provolone cheese 
6 slices of thick bread like texas toast 
salt and pepper

Directions
1. Bring a medium pot of water to a boil and drop in the leaf parts of the broccoli rabe

2. Sprinkle it with salt and cook for approx 3 minutes over medium heat

3. Drain thoroughly, you don't want wet cheeseburgers, and set aside to cool. It will look similar to cooked spinach. 

4. While the cooked veggie is cooling, in a bowl, mix together the meat, cheese, another sprinkle of salt, pepper, and start preheating your grill. 

5. Going back to the vegetable, use your fingers to pull any tough stem pieces out of the cooked green mass of broccoli rabe and chop up the rest. 

6. Add the cooled veggie to the meat mixture and form into 3 large patties. 


7. Grill the patties until they are done. I used a combo of high heat to get a great crust and then lowered it to finish off the burger with less direct heat. Do not flip them more than once. Remember this is sausage and not beef and it is safer to cook pork all the way through. As of 2011 there are new USDA guidelines for pork cooking temperature to help keep it juicy and not cardboard - you can pull it off once it hits 145 as long as you do a 3 minute rest period so it can continue cooking a bit more off the heat. You can read about that here. I prefer to stick with what I know and thats 155-160 but thats just me. 

(I did this last steps inside my house on a cast iron grill pan. My little guy was fussing and I wanted to hold him while my hubby helped.) 

8. Lets build the patty melt! On a grill pan or flat plan make the patty melt part. Heat the pan. Butter one side of 3 pieces of bread. Put the butter side down on the pan. Put one piece of cheese down on each slice of bread. Put one cooked Italian sausage burger patty on each slice of cheese. Top the meat with another slice of cheese and the remaining bread. Carefully spread a bit more butter on the top slice of bread. 



9. Grill until the cheese is melted on the bottom and the bottom bread is golden and toasted. Carefully flip. I had to hand my little fussy one to my husband for this part, because it called for two hands. I tried it with one and the bread tore and I had to redo one sandwich. So don't be like me. Use two hands, a good spatula, and go slowly. 

10. Once all the cheese is melted, and the bread is toasted and wonderful, you are done. And since you are trying a new veggie you don't have to worry about making sure you family gets another veggie on their plate. If they do its just another bonus. Summer is a great time to add crunchy cold veggies with or without dip to any burger meal. 


Golden, creamy, crunchy, meaty, and huge - this Italian BBQ Sausage Patty Melt with Broccoli Rabe will make your taste buds feel like that they have visited Italy. Enjoy. 
From my Az Kitchen to yours,

Stephanie