"When I was growing up, my father was a true grill man, [and he] would probably not been caught making wimpy sliders. [But] the sausage adds a great spice and moistness, making them in the jelly roll pan makes it really simple and, when you finish with the fresh tomatoes, basil and olive oil/balsamic, it makes for the perfect bite." --Susan Salerno, who writes the food blog Simply Cooking 101, from Henderson, Nev.
Italian Caprese sliders
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Total time: 50 minutes
Servings: Makes 18 sliders
Note: From Susan Salerno of Henderson, Nev.
1 1/2 pounds ground beef
1 pound hot Italian sausage, casings removed
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
1 onion, finely chopped
1 bell pepper, finely chopped
3 cloves minced garlic, divided
1/2 pound fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into ¼-inch slices
18 white dinner rolls
Freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
4 large Roma tomatoes, cut into ¼-inch slices
36 medium-large basil leaves, stemmed
1. Make the patties: In a large bowl, gently but thoroughly mix together the ground beef, Italian sausage, Italian seasoning, onion, bell pepper and 2 cloves minced garlic. Press the mixture into a jelly roll pan, using a rolling pin to make a flat, even layer. (Cover the meat with plastic wrap, if necessary, to keep it from sticking as it's rolled.) Cut the meat into roughly 2-inch squares.
2. Heat a grill or grill pan over medium-high heat until hot. Grill the burgers until cooked to an internal temperature of at least 160 degrees, about 2 to 3 minutes per side. When the burgers are done, place a slice of mozzarella on each burger and tent with foil while preparing the buns.
3. Warm the rolls: Wrap the rolls in foil and place on the top rack of the grill, or place in a warm oven until warmed through.
4. In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, balsamic vinegar and remaining minced clove garlic. This makes a scant one-half cup vinaigrette.
5. Assemble the sliders: Place a cheese-topped patty on the base of the bun, add a slice of tomato and 2 basil leaves. Drizzle each burger with 1 teaspoon of the vinaigrette. Serve immediately.
Each slider: 267 calories; 16 grams protein; 16 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram fiber; 15 grams fat; 5 grams saturated fat; 49 mg cholesterol; 3 grams sugar; 313 mg sodium.