La Bella Burger

Foodista Cookbook Entry

Category: Main Dishes | Blog URL:

This recipe was entered in The Foodista Best of Food Blogs Cookbook contest, a compilation of the world’s best food blogs which was published in Fall 2010.


1 pound sweet Italian turkey sausage (usually found in links)
1 egg
1 tablespoon fresh garlic
1 cup finely chopped fresh basil (divided – use 1 tbsp for meat mixture)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 pepper
1 inch sliced red bell pepper (¼ thick)
1 cup spinach leaves (remove stems)
4 sourdough baker’s roll
finely chopped fresh basil (remaining cup)
2 tablespoons pine nuts – toasted
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
1/4 teaspoon salt


Mix first 8 ingredients together thoroughly… then add salt & pepper and olive oil. Turkey meat has a tendency to dry out quickly on the grill, so the olive oil will help maintain a tender, moist burger.
Form 8 thin patties with the meat mixture. Cut mozzarella into 1/4 inch pieces. On top of one patty, scatter 4-5 mozzarella pieces throughout the center of the meat… leaving a little space between each cube. Be careful not to put cheese too close to the edges or it will leak out during grilling. Place another patty on top and seal edges together until cheese is completely buried.
Cut off the top of the red bell pepper and remove seeds and core. Then slice into 1/4″ rings and brush lightly with olive oil.
Pesto Sauce: In a dry frying pan, quickly toast the pine nuts. Should take less than 3 minutes. In a food processor, pulse basil leaves, toasted pine nuts and salt & pepper…. simultaneously adding olive oil through the feed tube. Once good puree is achieved, add the mayo and pulse 2-3 more times, scraping sides to make sure it’s thoroughly mixed. Don’t leave the processor on or the mixture will be too fine. You want some texture in order to taste each ingredient.
Cook burgers meat over low to medium heat. Be sure to coat grill with non-stick spray. Cook about 8-10 minutes on each side. Keep in mind that turkey burger and turkey sausage will look different than beef or pork... and the sausage lends a reddish color, which can be mistaken for rare meat. Cook on the high end of 12 minutes if you want to be safe... though be careful not to cook too long or your burger will dry out. Try not to flip the burger too often as it tends to crumble. If the mozzarella starts to ooze out, don't worry... that's a sign that your burger is almost done.
Place red pepper rings on the upper or outer edges of grill. Cook 2-3 minutes on each side. Brush olive oil on the insides of both halves of the sourdough buns and also place on the upper or outer edges of grill. Remove when lightly toasted.
Spread pesto sauce on top & bottom bun. place spinach leaves on bottom bun and place meat on top of spinach leaves. Garnish top of meat with grilled red bell pepper, fold the halves together and you have La Bella Burger!




Wendy's picture

I haven't made these yet, but I think the cooking time is much too long. They probably need a total cooking time of 10-12 minutes. If these are cooked for 20 minutes, they will be hockey pucks.

Deborah Barnett's picture

Nope! I just made them again last week.. 10 minutes on each side if you're grilling. They are very thick & hearty burgers and the Italian sausage and mozzarella inside keep them very moist - matter of fact, that's the number one comment I get.. "these are so moist!". But you want to keep it at a low to medium heat so as not to scorch the outside. Trust me on this one :o)

karen's picture

making these now!!! can't wait to try them out....the meat with the herbs and sausage in it smell wonderful!

Deborah Barnett's picture

Yay! That's awesome Karen! Let me know how they turn out!

karen's picture

I actually rated this as a solid 4. We made them stove top and they turned out great. The flavor of the meat is delicious. I ended up using all fresh herbs from my garden instead of any dried. The burgers were quite fat after stuffing them and pinching the top patty on, but the size had a nice playfulness to it. We did end up cooking them for about 7-8 mins a side and they were perfect. I loved the simplicity of the toppings too, just spinach and roasted red peppers. The combination with the pesto was spot on. We will definitely make these again!

Deborah Barnett's picture

Thanks for the feedback Karen... I appreciate it! I went ahead and tweaked the cook time... I am probably using a lower heat than most people (I'm all about the low & slow). And stove top definitely cooks faster than grilling. Glad you enjoyed them!


This flavorful Italian burger, oozes creamy mozzarella from every bite with bursts of sweet roasted red bell peppers and tangy pesto sauce. It's an all-time crowd pleaser! Try serving this burger with an anti-pasta or a cold Italian pasta salad.
Buon Appetito!


4.0 burgers


Tuesday, January 5, 2010 - 5:15pm


Related Cooking Videos