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Carol Kicinski
Put a spin on traditional hamburger sliders with big, bold Italian flavors.

Reinvent sliders with an Italian spin

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   One of my all-time favorite comfort meals is spaghetti with meatballs and garlic bread – a meal that was simpler before going gluten-free but still time consuming. After going gluten-free, I had to start making my own French bread for the garlic bread before I could even begin to think about the spaghetti and meatballs. Today I was in the mood for garlicky bread, rich meatballs, and tomato sauce, but not in the mood for all the work. And so, Italian Meatball Sliders were born!
   Sliders are small hamburgers and I love to make them any way I can think of and in this case, the all-American burger goes Italian. The burgers are flavored up the same way I do my meatballs, with some fresh parsley, garlic, grated onion, and Parmesan cheese. The buns I made with gluten-free bread and bun mix, melted butter, and plenty of garlic, it has all the flavor of garlic bread in a bun! To save time and effort I just used some jarred gluten-free marinara sauce.
   This dish is easy to make dairy-free, just use melted dairy-free butter alternative in the buns, leave out the Parmesan cheese from the burgers, and make sure the sauce you use is dairy-free.
   So there you have it, all the big, bold flavors
Gluten Free Italian Meatball Sliders
Makes 12
For the Buns:
Gluten-free nonstick cooking spray
1½ cups gluten-free bread and bun mix
¾ cup water
5 tablespoons melted butter or dairy-free butter substitute – use divided
3 cloves garlic, minced or grated
½ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon kosher or fine sea salt

For the Meatball Burgers:
2 pounds ground sirloin
3 garlic cloves, minced or grated
½ cup fresh parsley leaves
½ cup gluten-free panko style bread crumbs
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon kosher or fine sea salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese (omit for dairy-free)
½ white or yellow onion (medium sized)
2 teaspoons olive oil
1½ cups gluten free marinara or pasta sauce
24 basil or baby arugula leaves
For the Buns:
   Preheat oven to 375 F. Spray a standard 12-cup muffin tin with gluten-free nonstick cooking spray.
   Put the bread and bun mix, water, and 4 tablespoons melted butter in a mixing bowl. Beat with an electric mixer, starting on low to combine and then increasing the seed to medium. Once combined, continue to beat on medium speed for 2 minutes. Divide the dough among the prepared muffin tins.
   In a small bowl, stir together the remaining tablespoon of melted butter with the garlic powder and salt, brush on top of the buns and bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown.

For the Meatball Burgers:
   In a large mixing bowl, place the sirloin, garlic, parsley, bread crumbs, eggs, salt, pepper, and Parmesan cheese (if using). Grate in the onion. Mix all the ingredients until combined and then shape into 12 equal balls (about ⅓ cup per ball). Flatten the balls into patties.
   Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the patties, 6 at a time, for 4 minutes per side. Remove from skillet and keep warm while cooking the rest of the patties. While the patties are cooking, heat the sauce in a saucepan.
   To serve, cut the buns in half, place about 1 heaping teaspoon of sauce on each of the bottom halves, top with 2 basil or arugula leaves each, a burger, more sauce, and the top bun.
of an Italian feast in fun little sliders. And you know what the best part
about eating sliders is? It is perfectly acceptable to eat two or three of them!