Burger night? Skip the hamburgers and do a lamb burger instead! Flavoured with oregano, garlic and mint, punched up with spinach and salted with feta. Inspired by Greece, this lamb burger borrows from keftedes or Greek meatballs, made with beef, garlic, oregano, and – mint.
After making versions of this recipe for several years, I was looking for a way to push just a bit so I leaned on my favourite flavours in Greek cuisine to embrace a deeper cultural flavour. Instead of beef, I chose lamb, added the onions, garlic, oregano, egg, breadcrumbs, pepper, chopped spinach and feta but this time I added that key flavour note that defines a keftedes – mint.
The result was terrific. That bright mint lifted the lamb to a new savoury intensity with the slight saltiness of the feta and the moisture of spinach cooked right into the burger.
It’s All Greek
My first job in the food industry saw me waiting tables to pay my way through college in a cute little room, painted bright blue and white with scenes of the Aegean Sea on the wall; Andrea’s Taverna in Calgary, AB. Long since gone and replaced by a swanky cocktail lounge, Andrea’s was an education on the Mediterranean diet.
It was not my first Greek experience, having wandered Greece on several journeys. Andrea’s served to deepen my food culture knowledge so that ingredients to spanakopita, calamari, souvlaki, saganaki, moussaka, tzatziki, delicate flaky, honey-laden desserts were easily rattled off, with every vowel in its rightful place; making both selling and serving – a snap. Under Andre’s tutelage, I discovered Greek wines, including retsina (reminiscent of sucking the juice out of a pinecone), and ouzo, which we may have occasionally overindulged in.
It was my first introduction to espresso, and Greek Easter which featured lamb, rubbed with olive oil and plastered with garlic and oregano, then roasted in a covered pit for 24 hours until it was so tender it fell apart. Rich, deep and satisfying, lamb has become a red meat favourite. If I close my eyes, I can still smell that lamb.
Burger night?! Skip the hamburgers and do a lamb burger instead! Flavoured with oregano, garlic and mint, punched up with spinach and salted with feta, our Burger el Greco will wow the neighbours!
1pound of ground lamb
1/2 large onion, minced fine
1 large clove garlic, minced fine
1/2cup bread crumbs
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons dried mint
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper (to taste)
1/2cup frozen chopped spinach, thawed & drained
1/2cup feta cheese crumbled
2 red or yellow sweet peppers, cut flat into four pieces
1/2cup tzatziki, Greek yogurt dip
2 – 3 tablespoons olive oil, for cooking
In a large bowl start with ground lamb, season meat with oregano, pepper, and mint. Mix lightly. Add minced onions and garlic to seasoned meat. Add egg, spinach, breadcrumbs, and feta. Mix well, by hand or with a spoon, until all ingredients are well blended.
Form by hand into 4 – 6 meat patties, place on a tray or plate, and chill for a minimum of ten minutes in the refrigerator. This helps the meat to firm and makes the patties easier to grill (or fry).
Brush patties with olive oil, place on hot grill over medium-high heat to sear on both sides (about 3 minutes on each side), then reduce temperature to medium (approximately 300°f 150°C) to finish cooking to desired doneness.
Grill pepper pieces with olive oil until just cooked. Toast buns over the grill with a brush of olive oil on the inside. Remove from heat to rest.
Assemble your Greco Burger: start with the lower half of the bun, add a layer of tzatziki, then the lamb patty, top with grilled pepper, a layer of tzatziki, finish with the top of the bun and serve. Personally, I like to leave lamb burgers just a touch pink in the center.
For fun and colour, try some exotic vegetable chips; sweet potato, parsnip, batata, taro and yucca chips (some coloured with beet juice) flavoured with olive oil, lemon and garlic. They’re a new summer favourite, great dipped in extra tzatziki (or hummus).
Fearlessly cooking in her home kitchen just outside Ottawa, Canada; Cori Horton is a food photographer, food marketing consultant, recipe developer and sustainability advocate. A Cordon Bleu trained chef, Cori spent five years as the owner of Nova Scotia's Dragonfly Inn and now shares all things delicious - right here.