Grilled Basil Spinach Pesto Burgers

I spent a sunny afternoon at Starbucks the other day.  If you can’t read on the beach, you might as well read on the Starbucks patio with an iced coffee and a brownie.


Unfortunately, it’s hard to read when you’re trying to eavsdrop on the two couples sitting at the table behind you.

From what I gathered, one couple was visiting from Ottawa.  And they were talking about open bars and weddings, and hiking the Inca Trail to Macchu Pichu, and I really wanted to join in on their conversation, and perhaps make some new friends.  But that would have been weird, right?  Is it socially acceptable to just join in on someone else’s conversation?  Probably not, eh?

But, like, what would they have done if I had turned around and said “Oh, hey, you hiked the Inca Trail?  Cool.  My boyfriend really wants to do that, but I have a lot of reservations about it.  Like what is the bathroom situation like?”

I didn’t say anything.  I just kept reading my book.  So I guess we’ll never know.

But maybe that’s how people make new friends when you’re an adult in the real world.  By butting in on strangers conversations.

Once they left I could focus on my book again.  Then I went home and made supper.  And what a supper it was!

I’ve already told you about the fabulous peach cobblers I made for dessert.  Now I’ll tell you about the main course.

I was in the mood for burgers, but I didn’t know what kind.  And then I saw this recipe from my old buddy Martha.  I’ve often grilled portobellos and topped those with pesto for a quick and easy supper.  But never had I thought to put the pesto IN the  burger.  Such a super fantastic idea!

I tweaked it a bit by adding some lemon juice to the pesto and using whole wheat ciabatta buns.  I considered swapping out the walnuts for pine nuts, but the grocery store was out, so walnuts it was.  Plus walnuts are cheaper anyway.

The pesto is totally adaptable.  Swap out the herbs, greens, or nuts for whatever you’re feeling.  I’m sure arugula instead of spinach would be fab!

I made a side of these zucchini fries from Weeklybite, which I’d pinned the recipe for ages ago and finally just got around to making.  They made a great side dish.  And they’re a vegetable.

I felt all fancy with my pesto burger and zucchini fries.  So much flavour from the pesto!  And the cheese is all melty and the tomatoes soft and juicy.  It’s such a shame I didn’t have a bottle of wine chilled to go with it.


Grilled Basil Spinach Pesto Burgers

Slightly adapted from Martha Stewart

Serves 4

1 cup basil

1 cup spinach

2 cloves garlic, finely grated

1/4 cup walnuts

1 tbsp lemon juice

450g ground chicken


Extra virgin olive oil

2 large tomatoes, sliced (4 slices per tomato)

Fresh mozzarella

4 whole wheat ciabatta buns

Preheat grill to medium heat.

In a food processor (or blender), process basil, spinach, garlic, walnuts, and lemon juice until comes together as a nice pesto sauce.  I used my Vitamix and had to add a little extra lemon juice to get the pesto to come together.  This probably wouldn’t be an issue in a food processor.

In a bowl, combine 1 tbsp of the pesto, the chicken, and some pepper.  Use your hands to mix until combined.  Don’t over mix.  Bring mixture together into a big round disk.  Score with the side of your hand into 4 equal portions.  Form each quarter into a burger, making an indent so it’s thinner in the center.

Brush burgers with oil.  Place on grill.  Cover.  Cook for about 10 minutes.  Flip and continue to cook for another 10 minutes or so until burgers are cooked through completely.  We don’t want any raw chicken!  Cooking time may vary depending on the thickness of your burgers and your grill.

After flipping the burgers, drizzle the tomato slices with olive oil and place on grill.  Cook for about 2-4 minutes until slightly charred with grill marks, then flip and cook another 2-4 minutes.

When burgers are almost done, top each burger with a mozzarella slice to melt.  Place your buns on the grill (I use the top rack) for a minute or two to get a little colour.

To serve, spread some of the remaining pesto on both sides of bun, top with a burger and two tomato slices.  Yum!


Look at that green pesto!

4 thoughts on “Grilled Basil Spinach Pesto Burgers

  1. Carolyn Lunn says:

    Gonna make this tonight!! Thank you Karen as wenarenleaving on holidays and I need to use up my basil before we leave, plus I have a zucchini languishing in the fridge. Bonus!! (Ps, I’m Cindy McCarthy’s sister..have enjoyed your blog)

  2. Carolyn Lunn says:

    Hi again, I did try this with just regular frozen beef burgers and just grilled up some zucchini and red pepper for a side. Fantastic!! Thanks so much.

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