Chicken Caprese Burger

With spring weather upon us and summer on the prowl, our meals are starting to take a turn for the lighter side. It's that time of year for BBQ, swimming, salads and the classic burger.

One of my favorite cold, lighter salads is the Caprese salad. It's simple, cool, delicious and made with all real foods.

Some of the nutrition benefits are:

  • The tomatoes contain lycopene, an antioxidant, that helps get rid of free radicals in the body and also supports bone health.
  • Basil is a good source of vitamins A and C, reducing inflammation in the body and provides magnesium to help muscles recover following exercise.
  • Mozzarella cheese is a good source of protein and calcium, but watch your portion size for the saturated fat content. It's also a real cheese, not one that has been highly processed. Choosing part-skim can help maximize nutritional benefits by lowering the saturated fat content.
  • Balsamic vinegar is helpful for the body's digestion. It boosts the activity of pepsin, which breaks down proteins into smaller amino acids so the body can absorb protein more easily.

By pairing the Caprese salad idea with a burger, I have found the perfect simple, backyard summer meal. It's easy to prep so more time is spent with friends outside. It can easily be paired with a cold side salad or warm sweet potato fries.

Chicken Caprese Burger

Recipe developed by Christina Strudwick, MS, RD, CSSD, LD

Makes 5 small burgers

1 lb. ground chicken
1 cup spinach, chopped
4 tablespoons pesto
1/2 cup panko
1/2 cup roasted red bell pepper, chopped (roast in the oven or buy jarred)
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 teaspoons coriander
Pepper to taste (around 10 turns of pepper grinder)

Directions for roasting bell pepper

  1. Heat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Wash and slice red bell pepper. Keep pieces of bell pepper large (cut into halves or fourths) so the skin can be peeled easily after roasting.
  3. Place pieces of bell pepper on nonstick cookie sheet (or place a piece of foil under them). Roast in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until the peppers start turning black.
  4. Remove from oven and let cool for 5-10 minutes.
  5. Peel the skin off the peppers so just the flesh is left. Chop bell pepper into small pieces.

Directions for chicken burgers

  1. Heat the grill (you can use the stovetop if the outside grill isn't an option).
  2. Combine all ingredients except ground chicken. Mix ingredients well, then add in ground chicken & mix well to distribute all seasonings.
  3. Divide into 5 small burgers. Grill for 4-5 minutes per side. (When taking burgers off the grill, remember to use a different plate for food safety!)
  4. Serve with whole grain bun, spinach, mozzarella slice & balsamic glaze (optional) for a real caprese burger. Other optional toppings: red onion, avocado, mustard or ketchup.

Nutrition Facts. (3-oz. chicken burger, sans bun): 190 cal, 7.5g fat, 530mg sodium, 9g carb, 1.2g fiber, 19.6g protein

Christina Strudwick
Christina Strudwick, MS, RD, CSSD, LD, is a sports dietitian at Ben Hogan Sports Medicine in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.