Mediterranean Lamb Burgers

A few weeks ago we went grocery shopping with the intention of buying ingredients for our Guacamole-Chipotle Burgers but when we arrived at the meat aisle we discovered that our supermarket was having a sale on ground lamb.  We quickly abandoned our beef burger plans and instead decided to tackle a new recipe using the lamb.  After some quick iPhone-aided recipe searches we settled on Mediterranean lamb burgers with a spicy mayo sauce and a cucumber-mint topping.  Without further ado, here’s the recipe!

Lamb Burger

Mediterranean Lamb Burgers with Harissa Mayo and Cucumber-Mint Sauce

For the Harissa Mayo: (recipe from Chow.com)
1/4 cup Harissa*
1/2 cup Mayonnaise

For the Cucumber-Mint Sauce: (recipe from AllRecipes.com)
1/2 large Cucumber, peeled, grated and squeezed dry
3/4 cup Sour Cream
1 tablespoon Mint, choppedHomemade Harissa
1 teaspoon Red Wine Vinegar
1 clove Garlic, minced
Salt and Pepper, to taste

For the Burgers:
1 1/2 pounds Ground Lamb
1 tablespoon Harissa*
1/4 cup Feta, crumbled
1 teaspoon Salt
1/4 teaspoon Pepper
5-6 Hamburger Buns, cut in half lengthwise and lightly toasted

*Harissa is a Tunisian chile paste that can be purchased in tubes or cans in a good grocery store.  We couldn’t find Harissa in our local store so we used this Harissa recipe from Whole Foods to make our own.

Directions:

Start by making your condiments.  Make the Harissa Mayo by stirring together the Harissa and mayonnaise in a small bowl.  Make the Cucumber-Mint Sauce by mixing all of the ingredients together in a larger bowl and adding salt and pepper to taste.  Cover and refrigerate both sauces until you are ready to assemble your burgers.

Raw Lamb BurgersMake the Lamb Burgers by placing the ground lamb in a shallow bowl and spreading it out slightly.  Add in the Harissa and sprinkle the feta, salt and pepper evenly over the surface of the meat.  Carefully mix the ingredients into the meat with your hands.  (Avoid over-mixing the meat as this will make your burgers tough!)  Split the meat mixture into 5-6 loose balls (about 1/4 pound each).

Place the lamb “balls” on a plate and press down gently to flatten them slightly.  Form a small indent (about 1/4″ deep) in the center of one side of each patty.  Place the lamb patties, indent side up, on a preheated, oiled grill over direct high heat.  Close the lid and allow to cook for 6-7 minutes, then flip the burgers and let them cook for another 6 minutes.  Remove the burgers from the grill and let them rest, covered, on a plate for 4-5 minutes.

To assemble your burger, slather a liberal amount of the Harissa mayo on the bottom of the toasted burger bun.  Place the cooked lamb patty in the bun and top with a heaping spoonful of the cucumber-mint sauce.  Enjoy!

Lamb Burger

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Mediterranean Quinoa Salad

We are at the point in the wedding process where glorious wedding gifts are occasionally waiting for us by the garage when we get home from work.  (Thank you friends and family!!!)  One gift that’s had an immediate impact on our cooking habits is our amazing Zojirushi rice cooker.  This countertop gadget cooks every type of grain imaginable and it’s incredibly easy to use.  It’s also so satisfying to pop open the top at the end of the cook time and find perfectly cooked, fluffy, steaming hot rice.  Yum!

In addition to cooking the perfect pot of rice, the Zojirushi can cook quinoa, a protein-packed ‘superfood’ that, according to wikipedia, is actually more closely related to beets and spinach than grains.  Quinoa can easily be substituted in for grains in a well-rounded meal so, armed with our new rice cooker, Matt and I decided that we’d try our hand at a nice summery quinoa salad.  I found a great looking recipe on Garnish with Lemon and, after a few small tweaks (because I never follow recipes exactly), we ended up with a delicious, healthy salad that we’ll continue to enjoy all week for lunch.

Mediterranean Quinoa Salad

Mediterranean Quinoa Salad (adapted from Garnish With Lemon)

You will need…
1 1/2 cups raw Quinoa (or about 6 cups cooked Quinoa)
1/3-1/2 cup Red Wine Vinegar
1/2 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 Red Onion, finely chopped
1 Red Pepper, chopped
1 Cucumber, peeled and chopped
1 pint Cherry Tomatoes, quartered
1/2 cup Kalamata Olives, halved
1/2 – 1 cup Crumbled Feta Cheese
1 teaspoon Salt
1/2 teaspoon Pepper
Juice of 1/2 – 1 Lemon

Directions:
Cook the quinoa on the stovetop according to the package instructions or, if you have a rice cooker, cook it in the rice cooker on the normal white rice setting with a 2:1 water to quinoa ratio.  When cooking is complete, transfer the quinoa to a large bowl, cool for 5-10 minutes and stir in the vinegar and olive oil.

Allow the quinoa to cool completely to room temperature, then gently stir in the next 6 ingredients (onion thru feta).  Season with salt and pepper (add more to taste if needed).  If you have the patience, chill the salad for 2 hours (we ate it immediately and it was still good) and “garnish with lemon” just before serving.

Mediterranean Quinoa Salad 5