A gluten-free, Greek inspired dish with bold, classic, Mediterranean flavors.
One of the things I love about burgers is the simplicity with which you can vary the ingredients to create different recipes. By playing with the types of meat, cheese, binders, and aromatics you can come up with a variety of delicious combinations to suit a particular theme, occasion, or dietary preference. Here I’m using lamb, feta cheese, and warm Mediterranean spices to create a Greek inspired burger that is topped with tahini yogurt sauce and sandwiched in between slices of grilled eggplant. Eggplant Lamb Burgers are packed with so much rich, savory flavor that you’ll want to make them again and again.
Sometimes it’s nice to have just a hint of sweetness is savory dishes, which is why I opted to add Zante currants to this recipe. Zante currants are a special variety of black raisins from the beautiful Greek Island of Zante (short for Zakynthos) in the Ionian Sea. These currants are widely available in mainstream grocery stores; you can find them in the dried fruit aisle. Another unusual ingredient in Eggplant Lamb Burgers is wild rice. Wild rice is not associated with Mediterranean cooking but I chose to add it because it acts as a filler and gives the burgers a barely detectable nutty quality that I like. The wild rice adds an extra step to the recipe however, as it needs to be cooked and cooled first, so if you’re short on time you can use gluten-free bread crumbs instead.
Don’t skip putting the tahini yogurt sauce on top – it couldn’t be simpler to make and it’s tangy, cool, creaminess provides the perfect balance to the bold flavors in Eggplant Lamb Burgers. In case you’re not familiar with tahini, it’s a paste made from sesame seeds and is a staple in Mediterranean cooking. Tahini is also readily available at mainstream grocery stores.
Thick slices of grilled eggplant make the perfect bun for these burgers and cook in roughly the same amount of time. Enjoy Eggplant Lamb Burgers with a glass of red wine (Pinot Noir is a good choice) for a burger experience you’re unlikely to forget!
- LAMB BURGERS
- 1 lb. ground lamb
- ½ cup feta cheese (2 ounces)
- ½ cup cooked wild rice, cooled (see note below)
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- ¼ cup zante currants
- 1 egg
- 2 tablespoons heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- Pinch cayenne pepper
- 1 tomato, sliced
- 4 lettuce leaves
- 1 large globe eggplant cut into ½ inch thick slices
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ teaspoon salt
- TAHINI YOGURT SAUCE
- ¼ cup plain Greek yogurt, ful fat
- ¼ cup tahini
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- Pinch salt
- Combine the lamb burger ingredients (except tomato and lettuce) and form into 4 patties.
- Brush the eggplant slices with olive oil and sprinkle with salt on both sides.
- Cook the lamb burgers and eggplant slices on a preheated grill. Cook burgers to your desired level of doneness (4 minutes per side for medium rare) and the eggplant until golden-brown grill marks form, 3 to 4 minutes per side.
- While lamb and eggplant are cooking, combine the Tahini Yogurt Sauce ingredients and mix well.
- Select 8 eggplant slices that are about the same size in diameter as the lamb burgers. Place a lettuce leaf on 4 of the slices, followed by a lamb burger on each, sliced tomatoes, and some tahini yogurt sauce. Top with the remaining eggplant slices and serve.
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