The smell of lamb burgers cooking over a hot fire is intoxicating. Add a little feta-laced mint pesto and some lightly toasted pita bread, and you have a delicious Greek meal that’s perfect for a casual dinner with friends.
Lamb Burgers with Mint-Feta Pesto
2 Tbs. finely chopped shallot
2 Tbs. finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 Tbs. finely chopped fresh mint
1 Tbs. Dijon mustard
2 tsp. dried rosemary, crushed
1 clove garlic, minced
1 1/2 lb. (750 g.) ground lamb
1/2 lb. (250 g.) ground beef chuck
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
6 pita rounds
Mint-Feta Pesto (recipe follows)
Shredded lettuce for serving
Prepare a charcoal or gas grill for direct grilling over high heat. Brush and oil the grill grate.
In a bowl, mix together the shallot, parsley, mint, mustard, rosemary and garlic. Gently work in the lamb and beef until well blended. A tablespoon or two of ice water sometimes helps with the mixing. Divide the meat mixture into 6 equal portions. Shape each portion into a patty about 1 inch (2.5 cm.) thick, being careful not to compact the meat too much. Season on both sides with salt and pepper. Make a depression in the center of each patty with your thumb.
Place the patties, indent side up, on the grill directly over the fire and cook, turning once, until nicely charred on both sides, about 5 minutes per side for medium. The patty should give slightly when pressed. During the last 2 minutes of cooking, throw the pitas onto the edge of the grill and toast lightly, turning once.
Transfer the burgers to a platter. Cut off and discard about one-third of each pita round and open up the pocket. Place a little of the mint-feta pesto in the bottom of each pita, add a lamb burger, and top with shredded lettuce and a little more pesto. Serve at once. Serves 6.
1 cup (1 oz./30 g.) loosely packed fresh mint leaves
2 Tbs. pine nuts
1/8 tsp. red pepper flakes
1/2 cup (4 fl. oz./125 ml.) extra-virgin olive oil, plus more if needed
6 oz. (185 g.) feta cheese, crumbled
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
In a blender or food processor, combine the mint, pine nuts and red pepper flakes and pulse until the mint is chopped. With the machine running, slowly add the oil in a thin, stead stream, processing until a thin paste forms. If the paste is too thick, add a little more oil. Add the feta cheese and pulse 3 or 4 times to mix. Alternatively, for a more rustic sauce, transfer the mint mixture to a bowl and stir in the feta just until combined. Season with salt and black pepper.
Use right away, or cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Bring to room temperature and stir just before serving. Makes about 3/4 cup (6 fl. oz./180 ml.).
Recipe from Williams-Sonoma Grill Master, by Fred Thompson.