Empanada Burgers, Avocado Spread and Watermelon Pickles

Empanada Burgers, Avocado Spread and Watermelon Pickles-If you are tired of the same old burger, this one is a little different. Not a big fan of pickles? Caramelize an onion instead (slice it thinly and slowly saute until golden and sweet) and add it on top of the avocado/goat cheese. I had the butcher at the grocery store grind a chuck roast for me because it has the perfect amount of fat to make a juicy burger and it comes out so tender when the meat is freshly ground. Try it and you will see the difference!


Empanada mix Empanada Burgers, Avocado Spread and Watermelon Pickles

2 TB olive oil

1 small sweet onion, finely chopped

1 1/2 tsp fresh garlic, finely minced

4 TB tomato paste

A few dashes of Tabasco, to taste

4 TB finely chopped green salad olives stuffed with pimentos

4 TB raisins, finely chopped

1/4 tsp dried cumin

1/4 tsp dried oregano (the dried gives a more earthy flavorhere)

Watermelon “pickles”

One slice of watermelon rind about 3” by 3” peeled and most of watermelon removed (can still be slightly pink on the inside).

2/3 cup white vinegar

1/3 cup sugar

1 TB of sea salt (using sea salt is important or it may havetoo much salinity)

Avocado Spread with Watermelon “Pickles”

2 ripe avocados

4 oz log of chevre, softened at room temperature

Juice of 1/2 lime

1 jalapeno pepper, seeds removed, then finely chopped

2 TB chopped fresh cilantro

Watermelon pickle from above, diced.


1 1/2 pounds ground chuck

All of the empanada mix

1 tsp sea salt

Vegetable oil, for brushing the grill rack

3 Kaiser rolls, split

Reserve the pot the empanada mix was cooked in to brush the rolls with the residue in the pot.

3 leaves of curly green leaf lettuce cut to fit the buns

1 large yellow or orange tomato, sliced 1/4 inch thick (red ones are fine if the others are not available).


Prepare a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill with a cover, or preheat a gas grill to medium high.

To make the empanada mix, preheat a medium large fire-safe skillet over medium high heat on the grill.

Add olive oil and allow to heat for one minute.

Add onion, garlic, tomato paste, Tabasco, olive/pimento mix, raisins, cumin and oregano.

Saute for about 3 minutes and then move skillet to outer edge of grill so that the mix sautés on low heat for about 30 minutes until the onions are very soft and the sauce has caramelized a bit. Using a slotted spoon, set aside to cool in a bowl. Reserve pot to brush the rolls with the residue from the pot.

To make the watermelon pickles

Cut the peeled watermelon rind into small pieces one inch by one inch.

Place in small saucepan with vinegar, sugar and salt.

Bring to a boil over medium high heat, then move to outer part of grill and allow to simmer over indirect low heat for 15 minutes. Remove from heat. Take watermelon out of the briny mixture and allow to cool in a bowl.

Avocado spread with watermelon pickles

Remove avocados from skin and remove pits. Place in a medium-sized bowl. Add lime juice and salt. Take out seeds (not ribs) and mince jalapeno and add to mixture. Cut watermelon pickles in small dice and chop cilantro finely adding both to bowl. Mash mixture with fork leaving a little bit of chunky texture to the avocado.

To make the patties

Combine the beef, empanada mixture and salt in a large bowl.Handling the meat as little as possible to avoid compacting it, mix well. Divide the mixture into 3 equal portions and form the portions into patties that will fit the rolls.

Brush the grill rack with oil. Place the patties on the rack, cover and grill (lowering heat slightly) until browned on the bottoms, 3 to 4 minutes. Turn the patties and continue grilling until done to preference, about 5 minutes longer for medium rare. During the last few minutes of cooking, brush the tops of the rolls with residue from empanada pot and carefully place the rolls, cut side down on the outer edges of the rack to toast lightly. If the burgers are getting a little too brown from the sugars in the empanada mix, turn down the heat and cook a little longer.

To assemble the burgers, place an equal amount of avocado spread on cut side of tops and bottoms of rolls. Place a leaf of lettuce on bottom cut side of each roll. Place patties on top. Place a 1/4 inch tomato slice on top of each patty. Add roll tops and serve.

Makes 3 burgers 1/2 lb each or you can make 6 burgers 1/4 lb each.

About elizabethd

Elizabeth Dougherty has been cooking and writing about food intensively for more than ten years. She is the fourth generation of chefs and gourmet grocers in her family with her mother, Francesca Esposito and grandmother, Carmella being major influences in her early cooking years. As a teenager, her family sent her to Europe where she became focused on French and Italian cuisine. She survived a year and half of culinary tutelage under a maniacal Swiss-German chef and is a graduate of NYIT, Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor’s degree in Hospitality, Business and Labor Relations. Food And Travel Nation has won two news awards for content. Broadcasting LIVE each week, nationwide, on FoodNationRadio.com and stations around the country.

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