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Cooking with Bwog: Better Junk Food

Think burgers and pizza are bad for you? Let Bwog’s creative culinary correspondent Matt Powell show you how to make healthy versions of American fast-food classics in this week’s edition of Cooking with Bwog.

Much more appetizing than McDonald's!

Caramelized Pear and Onion Burger with Bleu Cheese:

Serves 4


  • 1 lb. ground sirloin
  • ½ lb. ground lamb
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/3 C bread crumbs
  • ¼ C red wine
  • 1 white onion, sliced thinly
  • 2 Bosc pears, sliced thinly
  • 4 tbsp. butter
  • Salt and pepper
  • 6 oz. of bleu cheese
  • 4 handfuls of arugula
  • 4 hamburger buns (I used fresh brioche and poppy seed buns)


  1. Make burgers: In a medium metal bowl, combine the beef, lamb, salt, pepper, bread crumbs, and red wine. Mix with your hands to combine the ingredients. Form 4 burgers with your hands or use a burger press. Set the burgers on a plate and set in the fridge until you are ready to grill.
  2. To grill the burgers, heat up that ol’ George Foreman. I wish I had access to a real grill, but this will have to do in New York…
  3. Meanwhile, as the burgers are grilling, combine the onion, the pears, the butter, the salt, and the pepper in a skillet. Heat on medium-high until the onions and pears become soft, lightly sautéed.
  4. Once the burgers are nicely cooked and the pear-onion mixture is sautéed, toast the hamburger buns. You can do this in a toaster or in the broiler (a gadget that most Columbia students don’t know exists in their ovens).
  5. Once all the components are set, assemble the burgers. Place the bottom bun on a plate and spread the bleu cheese on the bottom. Top with the pear-onion mixture. Follow this with the burger patty and finish the burger with a heaping handful of arugula. Place the top bun on top and you’re all set to eat!

Pistachio, Red Onion, and Parmesan Pizza

Serves 4

Pistachios...on a pizza?

The topping combination for this recipe comes from Pizzeria Bianco, a famous pizzeria in Phoenix. The owner has won the national pizza competition for the past several years, and quite honestly, it is the best pizza I have ever had. So before you bash the recipe, try it out!


  • Pizza Dough (I made my own, but West Side and Trader Joe’s both sell acceptable substitutes.)
  • 3 tbsp. good-quality olive oil
  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 8 oz. parmesano-reggiano, thinly sliced
  • ¾ C pistachio nuts, shelled and roasted (not salted)
  • Good-quality sea salt, or smoked salt (I used applewood smoked from The Meadows.)
  • A couple handfuls of arugula


  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Stick a pizza stone or a large metal baking tray in the oven to heat. Allow the tray to heat up for 15 minutes. (To simulate a brick-oven cooking process.)
  2. After the tray heats, remove it from the oven and spread the pizza dough on top. Drizzle 2 tbsp. of olive oil on the dough. Lay out the thinly sliced onion over the surface, followed by the thinly sliced cheese. Sprinkle the pistachios over the top of the pizza. Season with the salt and finish the pizza with the remaining olive oil.
  3. Stick the pizza in the oven and cook until the edges are golden-brown and the cheese is bubbling. (This took about 20 minutes in my oven.)
  4. Once the pizza is finished, slice into 8 pieces. Top each slice with a good amount of arugula and serve.

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  • Yummm says:

    @Yummm And he’s done it again! Looking forward to seeing this guy open his own restaurant some day. :-)

  • Dubious Nutrition... says:

    @Dubious Nutrition... I’m more than a little skeptical of the above burger’s comparative health benefits.

  • Does says:

    @Does Matt Powell throw arugula at everything he cooks?

    1. Matt says:

      @Matt Hahaha! You caught me! It’s my favorite green–plus, I had leftovers from Glass House Rocks.

      1. Matt says:

        @Matt And actually, in the pic, the burger has Lamb’s Leaf Lettuce, not arugula.

    2. To the search engine! says:

      @To the search engine!

  • A+ says:

    @A+ I made a slightly modified version of this burger recipe tonight for dinner, and it was fantastic. Not quite sure about healthy (can anything with bleu cheese really be that healthy?), but definitely delicious. Thanks, Matt!

  • Seriously says:

    @Seriously Bleu cheese is disgusting. Ruining a burger with that moldy shit is a crime against burgers. Bwog, you should be ashamed.

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