I imagine, if you are like me, what you need right now is not another cookie or another cup of punch. What you need is the world’s quickest and easiest tasty dinner, so you can be well fed between the events, between all the time commitments demanded by crafting the elegant meals and trays of cookies required for the days that are the events, between the traditions that can’t be monkeyed with.
And on some days, you may want that meal to be something other than spaghetti. Nothing against spaghetti. I love spaghetti. I went through a phase of hating it because I thought we ate if far too often during my childhood, but now I understand why we ate it so often. I 110% understand why because now that I’m the one making dinner, we eat it just about as often, though usually with spaghetti squash these days rather than actual pasta. But, even with that understanding, there are only so many days in a row one can stomach spaghetti.
Which is why these burgers are such a great find. I’m pretty sure the idea came from Food & Wine, or else Bon Appetit. It was one of the various food magazines that I was reading on one of my several recent work trips at any rate, and the idea stuck with me.
Using Italian sausage gives you a flavorful, juicy burger without having to worry about measuring out spices and adding eggs and bread crumbs – things that are perfectly wonderful to do some days, but perhaps not when you only have 20 minutes to cook before you’re supposed to head out caroling. The spinach is tender and garlicky, made soft and supple by a good slick of olive oil. It makes the perfect bed for the burgers.
You can add provolone if you want, but it doesn’t need it at all. If you have time to throw a few things in the blender, you can make this hot sauce to spread on the buns or you can just add a few sweet roasted bell peppers from a jar. I also stirred some finely chopped parsley and lemon zest into mayonnaise to spread thinly on our bread, but, as with the provolone, it’s a nice but not requisite addition. The flavorful meat stands for itself.
If you don’t do gluten, you could serve the burgers and spinach over polenta or smashed cauliflower. If you don’t do meat, you could skip the burgers and just serve the spinach with fresh mozzarella or provolone on crusty rolls. Whatever you decide to do, dinner will be there for you.
Italian Sausage Burgers with Garlicky Spinach (serves 4)
- 1 lb. of Italian sausage (sweet or hot both work, just use what your taste buds prefer), squeezed out of their casings
- 1 lb. baby spinach
- 2 large cloves of garlic, finely minced
- 1 Tbs. olive oil, plus a little extra for the burgers
- 1 Tbs. butter
- salt and pepper
- 4 crusty rolls, like ciabatta rolls
- hot sauce or roasted bell pepper slices
- good quality mayonnaise
- Form the sausage meat into 4 patties. Heat a large frying pan over medium high heat, add enough olive oil to lightly coat the pan, add the sausage burgers, and fry until cooked through, about 6 or 7 minutes per side.
- While the burgers are frying, heat another medium frying pan over medium high heat. Add the tablespoon of olive oil and heat until it shimmers. Add the garlic and saute until it becomes fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in the spinachand several good pinches of salt and pepper and cook until the spinach wilts. Stir in the tablespoon of butter plus more salt to taste.
- Toast your rolls, then smear eachwith a thin layer of mayo and top with hot sauce or roasted pepper strips. Top each with a quarter of the spinach and one of the burgers. Close the burgers up, and serve with a simple salad of arugula tossed with olive oil, lemon juice and salt.