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Eric Akis: Try your summer cheeseburger without the bun, for tasty change

Cheeseburger salad bowls have lots of flavour, without the bun
Ingredients you would enjoy with a cheeseburger served in a bowl, no bun required. ERIC AKIS

If you love everything about a fully loaded cheeseburger except the bun, get out some serving bowls and tastily serve its ingredients in them, minus the bun. It’s what I did in today’s recipe for cheeseburger salad bowls.

To make them, a ground beef mixture is formed into eight small patties that are grilled until cooked through. While the burger patties cook, you fill shallow serving bowls with chopped lettuce (or baby salad greens). The lettuce is then decoratively topped with tomatoes, onions, pickles, fresh corn kernels and, if desired, crisp slices of bacon.

I added corn to the salad because I cut the fresh kernels I used off a cob of corn and, in the summer, corn on the cob is something you might serve alongside a cheeseburger.

When the burger patties are cooked, you top them with slices of aged cheddar cheese. When the cheese is melted, you set two patties on each of the four salads this recipe yields. The salads are then adorned with some burger salad dressing. It’s a sweet and tangy, thinner version of that special burger sauce served in some restaurants.

The finished salads are colourful, filling creations that will taste great for dinner on a late summer day.

Cheeseburger Salad Bowls

Items you would sandwich in a bun to make a cheeseburger, tastily served in a bowl, minus the bun.

Preparation time: 45 minutes

Cooking time: eight minutes

Makes: four servings

For the salad dressing

1/2 cup mayonnaise

3 Tbsp water

2 Tbsp ketchup

2 Tbsp sweet green relish

1 Tbsp yellow mustard

1/2 tsp Tabasco or other hot sauce

1/4 tsp onion powder

1/4 tsp garlic powder

1/4 tsp smoked or regular paprika

For the burgers and salad

500 grams lean ground beef

1 large egg, beaten

1/4 cup dried breadcrumbs

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp minced fresh thyme, or pinch or 2 dried

• freshly ground black pepper, to taste

• vegetable oil, for the grill

8 slices aged cheddar cheese, cut to fit the size of your burger patties

10 cups chopped romaine or head lettuce or baby mixed salad greens

2 ripe red on-the-vine tomatoes, cut into thin wedges

1/2 cup fresh corn kernels (see Note)

• sliced red onion, to taste

• sweet mixed pickles, yum yum pickles or sliced dill pickles, to taste

4 strips bacon, each cut in half, fried until crispy and drained well (optional)

To make salad dressing, combine its ingredients in a small bowl. Cover and refrigerate dressing until needed.

To make burger patties, combine ground beef, egg, bread crumbs, salt, thyme and pepper in a bowl. Divide ground beef mixture into eight roughly equal loose balls. Form each ball into a 3/4-inch thick patty. (The patties can be made many hours before needed, set on a plate, covered and refrigerated until ready to cook.)

To cook patties, preheat a barbecue or indoor grill to medium-high (see Eric’s options). Lightly oil the bars of the grill. Set on the patties and cook about four minutes per side, or until cooked through and the centre of each patty reaches 160 F (71C) on an instant-read meat thermometer.

While the burger patties cook, set some lettuce (or baby salad greens) in each of four shallow salad bowls. Top the lettuce in each bowl with some of the tomatoes, corn, onions, pickles and bacon, if using.

When burger patties are cooked, turn heat to low, top each patty with a slice of cheese and let it melt, about one minute or so. Set two burger patties on each salad and serve with the salad dressing, for spooning on each salad at the table.

Note: One small to medium cob of corn, after shucking and cutting the kernels off the cob, should yield the 1/2 cup needed here.

Eric’s options: If you don’t have a barbecue or indoor grill, you could pan-sear the burger patties in hot oil in a large skillet set over medium-high heat until cooked through, about four minutes per side. Turn heat to low, top patties with cheese, let cheese melt and the patties are ready to set on the salads.

Eric Akis is the author of eight cookbooks. His columns appear in the Life section Wednesday and Sunday.

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