Thursday, August 6, 2015

Mediterranean Burgers

I live in Indianapolis and I was trying to track down some really good feta. My search took me to a shop that advertised itself online as specializing in Greek and Mediterranean items. I meandered around the shop, a little overwhelmed by the array of spices, cheeses (6 brands of feta!), pickles, contraptions. I took the shop owner’s recommendation and brought home a Bulgarian feta. I know. Bulgarian feta? What? But I’m really glad I put my faith in the shop owner. This feta is so creamy, slightly tangy and just enough brine. It slices and cubes beautifully for OCD people and yet crumbles just as easily.

Sorry, this is a long tangential story to say that I’m really into the wide array of flavors coming from the countries surrounding the Mediterranean and its lesser seas. All too often, when I think of Mediterranean flavors, I think “Greece” or “Italy” maybe “Spain” and kinda stop, but of course there are the North African countries (hello, Morocco!), Middle Eastern countries, and then the landmass loops back around to the East European countries. When I look at the food and dominant flavors, I don't see distinct borders. I see the Mediterranean flowing into the Aegean or the Ionian into the Adriatic. I see more commonality and fewer differences. I’m not getting into the politics of the varying conflicts in our world and I’m not naïve enough to think that having one giant dinner party would solve our world’s problems (though that would be kinda awesome), but I do think it’s important to remember our commonality across cultures and borders and how it all flows.

With that in mind, I developed this recipe while on a Greek food kick and happened to shop at a Mediterranean store which opened my eyes to the wide range of flavors and condiments of the region while noting the similarities from one culture to the next. If I’ve inspired you to explore the flavors that I’m writing about, then I’ve accomplished something today.

Mediterranean Burgers
by Woo

1 small zucchini, grated, sprinkled with 1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup finely diced onion
1/4 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
10 large mint leaves, chopped
1/2 teaspoon harissa (substitute sambal olek or other chili paste, but try to find the harissa)
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1 1/2 pounds of Cluck 'n Moo Ground
2 ounces of feta, crumbled
Salt and pepper to taste

The grated and salted zucchini will release some water. Squeeze the excess water from the zucchini wrapped in paper towels or a cloth. Add to a large mixing bowl along with the onion, parsley, mint, and harissa. Toss gently to distribute the harissa. Sprinkle the dried spices evenly over all. Toss to combine. Add the Cluck 'n Moo Ground and crumbled feta and combine gently using both hands. I know, it’s raw meat, but I think you get the best results from mixing by hand. Try not to over work the mixture. Form 6 patties and keep covered in refrigerator until ready to cook. Season with a bit of salt and pepper before cooking.

Preheat a large heavy-bottom skillet, swirl a bit of oil and add the burgers. Do not crowd the pan. Cook for 3-4 minutes on medium/medium-high, flip, cover and cook for another 4-5 minutes on medium. Remove the lid for the last two minutes of cooking. Adjust the heat and times as needed to cook through (internal temperature should be 165°F.)

Serve with tomato and cucumber salad, garnish with crumbled feta, tzatziki, with or without buns (we went the lettuce wrap route, good, but messy!) and more harissa!

1 comment:

  1. i would reccomend you to sweat the onions removing most of the water if you are going to put them in burgers or smthing similar because usually if you put raw onion with all its fluids the burger becomes let say....not that great.