A Cheese (Hold the Beef) Burger
If you’re a North American of a certain age, you’ll recall a mid-1980s series of commercials in which a popular fast foods chain disparaged the allegedly puny size of its competitors’ burgers by asking, “Where’s the beef?” You’d have good cause to ask in the case of this particular burger since it includes no beef whatsoever. Instead, a grilled cheese patty is the star here.
For years I’ve enjoyed what are called grilling cheeses, which have high melting points and can be browned on a barbeque grill or stovetop grill pan without losing their shape or otherwise turning into a gooey mess. Personally I prefer one of the best gas ranges when I’m cooking meats. These include Mexican queso blanco, Cypriot halloumi, Indian paneer, Greek kasseri, and certain varieties of farmer’s cheese. And the thought occurred: why not a cheese-glorious-cheese-and-only-cheese burger made from one of these ingredients? Just to be on the safe side, I checked The Free Online Dictionary, which defines a burger as:
“A sandwich consisting of a bun, a cooked beef patty, and often other ingredients such as cheese, onion slices,lettuce, or condiments”…. A similar sandwich with a nonbeef filling.
So, yes, this sandwich walks like, talks like, looks like, cooks like, and ultimately is a burger, although an unconventional one.
This simple and very quickly prepared recipe is ideal for a weeknight dinner when cooked on the stovetop and is also a great vegetarian option to offer when barbecuing on weekends. Four minutes or less of cooking time and you’ve got a main course. Enjoy!
FOR THE BURGERS:
1 teaspoon olive oil
12 ounces queso blanco, queso fresco crumbling cheese, paneer, or halloumi, sliced into 1/3-inch thick or thicker pieces (taste first, as some brands of these cheeses, particularly halloumi, can be very salty. If necessary, rinse the slices to remove some of the salt)
4 kaiser-style rolls, each sliced into two rounds
1/2 fresh lemon
Salt, if needed, and pepper
I opted for a combination fresh spinach, baby greens, sliced tomatoes, sliced avocado, and sliced onion. Use whatever garnishes you prefer for burgers.
FOR OPTIONAL SAUCE:
I opted for garlicky aioli on one occasion and chipotle-seasoned mayonnaise on another. Both were tasty. Use whatever sauces you prefer for burgers or serve them plain.
Preheat a barbeque grill or a non-stick grill pan (if cooking on the stove top) to medium-high heat and, when hot, brush the grill surface with the olive oil.
Grill the cut sides of the rolls until warm and lightly browned.
Place the cheese patties on the grill surface and cook for approximately one minute until the cheese has browned. Flip the cheese over and cook until lightly browned. Give each cheese slice a generous squeeze of lemon juice. Add salt, if needed, and pepper to taste.
Immediately serve each cheese slice on a grilled roll with the garnishes and sauce of your choice. Makes four servings.