Feta and Basil-Stuffed Lamb Burgers

Feta and Basil-Stuffed Lamb Burgers are juicy and flavorful with a pocket of gooey feta cheese embedded in the center. Topped with caramelized onions and a fresh basil leaf this sandwich is a crowd-pleaser.

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Feta and Basil-Stuffed Lamb Burgers
(Mark Kelly, 2015)

Serves 4 to 6 depending on the size of the patties

1 1/2 lbs ground lamb
6 oz feta, crumbled
6 large fresh basil leaves, chopped
1/2 medium yellow onion, chopped
Kosher salt
Freshly ground back pepper

Thoroughly combine the lamb, onion and basil. For each patty, form a ball and use your thumb to form a deep pocket in the middle of the ball. Press in a portion of the feta and close the pocket. Flatten the patty out and set aside on a baking sheet. Repeat until all patties are formed. Refrigerate until about 45 prior to grilling.

Heat grill for medium high direct cooking. For medium-rare doneness, grill for 4 – 6 minutes depending on the size of the patty. Flip and cook for an additional 3 – 5 minutes, again depending on the size of the patty. Serve on a toasted but a dollop of caramelized onions.

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Linguine with Mushroom Ragu

Linguine with Mushroom Ragu is a rich, meatless pasta dish with flavor enhanced by fresh basil, parsley and Marsala wine. Serve this dish in a shallow bowl with warm, crusty bread to sop up the broth.

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Linguine with Mushroom Ragu
(Adapted from recipe courtesy of Everyday Italian by Giada De Laurentiis, 2005)

Serves 4

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 lbs mixed mushrooms (button, cremini, shiitake), stemmed and sliced
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups Marsala wine
4 cups lower-sodium chicken stock
1 1/3 cups freshly grated parmesan, plus more for garnish
8 fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced crosswise, plus more for garnish
1/2 cup fresh parsley leaves, chopped

1 lb whole wheat linguine

In a large skillet heat the oil to a shimmer. Add the onions and garlic and soften them over medium heat, about 8 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook until juices are released and mostly evaporated. Add the Marsala and cook until it is mostly evaporated. Add the chicken broth and simmer for 30 minutes.

While the ragu is cooking, bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta according to the directions on the packet.

Before serving remove from heat and stir in the parmesan, basil and parsley and stir until the cheese is melted and the broth is thickened.

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Radishes al cartoccio

Radishes al cartoccio is a dish that uses one of my favorite root vegetables, radishes. I have loved radishes since I was a child and I have fond memories of eating fresh, raw radishes with a dash of salt on each bite.

Recently, I have been cooking radishes and that same flavor is still present but when baked or sauteed it is a bit sweeter. If you like radishes give this recipe from Iron Chef Mario Batali a try.

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Radishes al cartoccio
(Adapted from recipe courtesy of Chicago Tribune and Molto Batali, 2015)

Makes 6 – 8 side dish servings

2 lbs large radishes, sliced crosswise 1/4-inch thick
1 red onion, halved and thinly sliced
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
3 Tbsp finely chopped fresh oregano and thyme leaves
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 450F.

In a large bowl, combine the radishes, onion, oil, vinegar and herbs. Season with salt and pepper. Toss to mix thoroughly. Place half of the mix in the center of each of two large pieces (approx. 16-by-12-inches each). Fold into well-sealed packets.

Place the packets on a baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving. When serving drizzle with good olive oil and re-season with salt and pepper.

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Orange-Fennel Grilled Chicken

Orange-Fennel Grilled Chicken is prepared with a marinade of orange and vinegar that is seasoned with fennel and finished with a sauce using the same ingredients.

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Orange-Fennel Grilled Chicken
(Mark Kelly, 2015)

Serves 4

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Juice of 3 large navel oranges, divided
1 jalapeno, stemmed, seeded and chopped, divided
2 garlic cloves, minced, divided
1 Tbsp fennel, ground, divided
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar, divided
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Place the chicken breasts in a large zip-top plastic bag. In a small bowl, combine one-third of the juice, two-thirds of the jalapeno, half of the garlic, half of the fennel, and half of the vinegar. Whisk to combine. Pour the marinade over the chicken and squeeze out any excess air. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before grilling. Remove the chicken from the refrigerator 45 minutes before grilling. Pat dry and season with salt and pepper.

To make sauce: In a medium sauce pan over medium heat combine the juice of 2 oranges, the remaining one-third of jalapeno, half of garlic, half of fennel, and half of the vinegar. Bring to a boil and then simmer until reduced by about half. Strain out the solids using a mesh sieve before drizzling.

Heat grill to medium-high. Grill for 5 to 6 minutes each side. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving. Serve with a drizzle of sauce.

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Roasted Cabbage with Chive-Mustard Vinaigrette

Roasted Cabbage with Chive-Mustard Vinaigrette is an awesome side dish to accompany grilled or roasted meats. This dish is so versatile it works with a summer barbecue or a winter holiday meal.

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Roasted Cabbage with Chive-Mustard Vinaigrette
(Adapted from recipe courtesy of Eatingwell.com, March/April 2014)

Serves 12: 1+ Wedge Each

2 medium green cabbages, quartered and cored, outer leaves removed
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

For the vinaigrette:
2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
2 Tbsp white-wine vinegar
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
6 Tbsp minced fresh chives
4 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

To prepare the vinaigrette:

Combine the mustard, vinegar, lemon juice, a dash of pepper and a pinch of salt in a small bowl. Add chives and drizzle in oil while whisking, until emulsified.

Preheat oven to 450F. Coat a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray.

Drizzle the cut sides of the cabbage wedges with oil and season with salt and pepper. Place the wedges cut-side down on the prepared baking sheet. Roast for 12 minutes, Carefully flip the cabbage wedges over roast until browned on both sides, about 8 minutes more.

Transfer the cabbage wedges to a serving plate and drizzle with the vinaigrette. Serve hot or at room temperature.

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Watermelon, Feta and Jalapeno Salad

Watermelon, Feta and Jalapeno Salad is spicy, sweet dish that goes perfect with smoky barbecued ribs or brisket.

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Watermelon, Feta and Jalapeno Salad
(Adapted from recipe courtesy of Saveur.com, 2015)

Serves 8 to 10

For the dressing:
2 Tbsp fish sauce
3 Tbsp fresh lime juice
4 tsp honey
4 large shallots, (2 roughly chopped, 2 thinly sliced)
2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
4 Tbsp canola oil
1 large watermelon, cut into 2-inch cubes
1/2 cup crumbled feta
3 tomatoes, cored and quartered
2 jalapenos, stemmed, seeded and thinly sliced
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup mint leaves, roughly chopped
1/2 cup basil leaves, roughly chopped
3 green onions, green and white parts, thinly sliced

Puree the fish sauce, lime juice, honey, chopped shallot, and garlic in a food processor until smooth Add the oil and pulse until emulsified.

Toss the dressing with the watermelon, feta, tomatoes, jalapeno, salt and pepper. Transfer to a large serving platter and top with the sliced shallots, herbs and green onion slices.

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Smoked Brisket with Coffee-Balsamic Barbecue Sauce

It is the 4th of July so it is ample time for Ample Bites do another Smoked Brisket recipe. This time it is Smoked Brisket with Coffee-Balsamic Barbecue Sauce. The sauce is so easy to prepare and the brisket gets hours of smoking and slow cooking love after sitting in the refrigerator with a hearty, spicy rub on it for a couple of days.

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Smoked Brisket with Coffee-Balsamic Barbecue Sauce

Serves 8 – 12

For the rub:
3 Tbsp chile powder
1 Tbsp garlic powder
1 Tbsp dried oregano
1 Tbsp celery seed
1 Tbsp paprika
1 Tbsp ground coriander seed
1 Tbsp ground mustard seed
1 Tbsp freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp kosher salt
2 (4- to 5-pound) beef briskets with 1/4-inch fat layer
2 cups apple juice, in a spray bottle

For the barbecue sauce:

3 cups ketchup
1 1/3 cups balsamic vinegar
1 1/3 cups honey
3/4 cup lower sodium soy sauce
4 Starbuck Dark Roast Via packets
3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
6 garlic cloves, minced

Thoroughly mix the rub ingredients in a small bowl. Place the first brisket fat side down on a plastic wrap-lined rimmed baking sheet. Rub the exposed side of the brisket with a quarter of the rub mixture. Flip the brisket over and season the fat side with a quarter of the rub. Repeat with the second brisket. Stack one on top of the other and wrap completely with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least one day and up to five days before smoking.

To make the sauce: Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the remaining ingredients and whisk until thoroughly combined. Bring to a bubbling boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer for 1o minutes, stirring occasionally.

Prepare a large foil packet of thoroughly soaked cherry wood chips. Pierce the packet in several places to allow the wood smoke to escape. Heat the grill to between 225 and 250 degrees using one of the side burners only of your gas grill. Place the wood chip packet over the active burner. Place a large drip pan filled with 2 cups water and one lager beer on the side away from the active burner. Close and allow the smoke to build for 10 minutes. Place the briskets on the cooking grate above the drip pan. Cover and smoke, spraying the brisket every 30 minutes with the apple juice until the brisket is tender and reaches 165F, about 6 hours. Moisten the wood chips as necessary.

Preheat oven to 225F. Place the briskets in a large foil pan and cover tightly with aluminum foil. Bake in the oven for an additional 2 to 3 hours, until the internal temperature reaches 185F. Remove and allow to rest for 20 minutes before serving. Reserve juices.

Warm the barbecue sauce. Slice and serve with the sauce and reserved juices.

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