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Weekday dinner inspiration: Hot Italian Burgers With Red Pepper Relish and more

Hot Italian Burgers With Red Pepper Relish goes well with fruit salad. Use what’s in season. This time of year in Florida that means strawberries.

SCOTT KEELER | Times (2009)

Hot Italian Burgers With Red Pepper Relish goes well with fruit salad. Use what’s in season. This time of year in Florida that means strawberries.

It's our anniversary!

This May marks five years since I started suggesting easy meal ideas for readers. I've never been particularly good at math, but that will be about 1,300 dinner ideas, with a few repeats now and again. Wow. Even I am surprised by that number. You've heard plenty from me over the years, but now I'd like to hear from you. Tell me: Which ideas have made their way to your dinner table? Are we over rotisserie chicken? What would you like to see more of? And most importantly, I'd like your opinion of the column. Look for your input in the May 15 section.

Email comments to and put MEAL IDEAS in the subject line or mail them to Janet K. Keeler, Tampa Bay Times, 490 First Ave. S, St. Petersburg, FL 33701. Include your name, city of residence and daytime phone number.

And here we go again . . .

Mon | Meatless meal

Twisted Pasta makes use of corkscrew pasta or any other variety with a crooked shape. Cook ¾ pound of pasta according to package instructions while you prepare the sauce. Saute some chopped sweet onion and garlic in olive oil. Stir in a can of diced tomatoes, season with salt and pepper and let simmer until reduced by about one-half. Add a few tablespoons of white wine and ½ cup of broth, then stir in 1 cup frozen shelled edamame or fava beans and cook through. Cook until heated through. Add drained pasta and top with grated Parmesan or Asiago cheese.

Tues | Hot and spicy

Hot Italian Burgers With Red Pepper Relish (recipe below) is a back-of-the-box recipe from J.M. Smucker Co. Don't let the number of ingredients scare you off; it's a lot of dump-and-mix stuff. Serve it with a spinach and strawberry salad dressed with balsamic vinaigrette and garnished with sliced almonds.

Wed | Rotisserie chicken

Make a quick Tortilla Soup using shredded meat from a rotisserie bird. Start by sauteing chopped onion, a diced red bell pepper and 2 garlic cloves in olive oil until soft, about 7 minutes. Add 1 can diced tomatoes with oregano and at least 2 cups of chicken broth. (You can add a can of drained corn if desired.) Bring to a simmer and stir in shredded chicken. When it's heated through, ladle into bowls and top with crushed tortilla chips, sour cream and sliced scallions. Offer a green salad with sliced avocado on the side.

Thurs | Fridge hunt

Scour the fridge for Chef's Salad fixings, and while you're doing that, hard-boil a few eggs to slice for your salad. Load up a wide, shallow bowl with lettuce of your choice — I like a mix of spring greens and sturdy romaine — and top with all sorts of veggies (tomatoes, cucumbers, shredded carrots, scallions, whatever is still healthy from the crisper). Dress the greens before adding protein such as deli meats and cheeses (feta, shredded Jack or cheddar, anything blue, goat). A jar of beets? Drain and add. A can of garbanzos? Drain, rinse and add. Slice the eggs and scatter croutons.

Fri | Get chopped

Honey-Mustard Pork Chops With Roasted Asparagus is our TGIF dinner. Sprinkle olive oil over trimmed asparagus, arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet and pop in the oven at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes. While the asparagus is cooking, mix ⅓ cup honey, 2 tablespoons yellow mustard and a hefty pinch of cloves in a small bowl. Sear ¾-inch chops in a nonstick skillet, about 3 minutes on each side. Reduce the heat and pour honey mixture over them. Cover and cook for about 10 minutes and thank Pillsbury for the recipe.

Janet K. Keeler can be reached at or (727) 893-8586. Follow her on Twitter at @roadeats.


Hot Italian Burgers With Red Pepper Relish

For the red pepper relish:

2 tablespoons Concord grape jam

2 teaspoons red wine vinegar

2 large fresh basil leaves, chopped, or ¼ teaspoon dried basil

1 (12-ounce) jar sweet roasted red peppers, drained and sliced into strips

For the burgers:

1 ½ teaspoons salt

1 tablespoon fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped

3 large fresh basil leaves, chopped, or ½ teaspoon dried basil

¼ cup Concord grape jam

1 pound mild or hot bulk Italian sausage

1 pound fresh ground turkey

Nonstick cooking spray

6 mozzarella slices

6 rolls, sliced

For relish: Combine grape jam, vinegar, basil and red peppers in a small bowl. Set aside.

For burger patties: Combine salt, parsley, basil and jam in a medium bowl. Remove sausage from casings and crumble with turkey over mixture; gently combine the ingredients well. Shape meat into 6 patties; refrigerate until ready to cook. Coat unheated grill grate with nonstick spray. Heat grill to medium-high.

Grill patties 4 to 6 minutes

per side or until juices run clear. Top each burger with a slice of cheese during the last 2 minutes of grilling. Toast

the buns on the grill. Place a burger on each roll bottom, add red pepper relish and top with other half of bun.

Serves 6.

Note: The relish will be quite runny. Drain before putting on burgers.

Source: J.M. Smucker Co.

Weekday dinner inspiration: Hot Italian Burgers With Red Pepper Relish and more 03/19/13 [Last modified: Monday, March 18, 2013 5:04pm]
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