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Get ready to grill: Mediterranean burgers

It's Memorial Day weekend and time to kick-off the outdoor grilling season. Here's how to use Mediterranean flavors to beef up regular burgers.

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    Mince olives, tomatoes, and garlic and mix with beef along with the Parmesan cheese, a dash of salt, and a generous sprinkle of black pepper. Gouda cheese provides a smoky finish.
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The idea for this burger came about while shopping at Kroger. I needed something for dinner as it was getting late in the day, so I settled on a package of ground chuck that was on sale.

Burgers cook up very quickly, and for those shopping days when I don’t have much planned, it easily becomes the go-to dinner. I’d gone over to the cheese counter to find some cheese to put on them. I found a package of Mediterranean herb infused Gouda cheese which was very nice and decided on that. Around the side of the cheese counter on the olive bar were a variety of things that sounded great with Mediterranean herbs: olives, sun-dried tomatoes, roasted garlic, hummus. I grabbed a bit of all of those to include in my sandwich.

The olives, tomatoes, and garlic are easily enough minced and just mixed with a pound of beef along with the Parmesan cheese, a dash of salt, and a generous sprinkle of black pepper. You might note I don’t use a binder in these. My meat wasn’t particularly wet so I didn’t need it, and in fact, I do prefer a burger without filler such as egg and oats or breadcrumbs. As you can see in the photo, they are quite firm. But if yours come up a little sloppy, a few dried breadcrumbs should pull them together. I doubt you would need any egg at all.

The burger buns at the market looked really bad so I passed on those. Right across the aisle was a bin of freshly baked bolillo rolls which, with the ends cut off, would serve nicely. But you can use whichever buns serve you best, perhaps even opting for a low-carb or gluten-free wrap, or perhaps wrapping the burger in lettuce (I have done that many times!).

These burgers don’t need any ketchup, mustard, or mayo of any kind since the hummus does the job there. The other toppings you can vary as you see fit. If you can’t get the herbed Gouda, there are other nice cheese available, such as aged Gouda, smoked Gouda, or ever types of cheddar and Havarti.

The burgers themselves can be cooked on a griddle or outside on a grill, whichever you prefer. Many times I like mine grilled outdoors for that extra bit of smoky flavor. These burgers seem perfect for Memorial Day weekend, as we launch ourselves into the summer of 2015. We always like to start grilling in force around this time of year. 

Enjoy the burgers and your holiday weekend as well. Remember to think about those who gave the greatest sacrifice. It is what the holiday is about, after all.

Mediterranean Burgers

1 pound ground beef chuck
1/3 cup minced oil-marinated sun-dried tomatoes (without oil)
1/3 cup minced roasted garlic cloves
1/2 cup minced pitted kalamata olives
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
salt and black pepper to taste

Toppings:

4 ounces Mediterranean herb Gouda or other sliced Gouda cheese
1/2 cup roasted red pepper hummus or other hummus
red leaf lettuce
sliced ripe tomatoes
thinly sliced red onion
sandwich rolls or sliced French bread (I used bolillos)

1. Mix and shape into 4 burger patties

2. Cook burgers to 160 degrees F. for well-done.

3. Serve on sandwich rolls with preferred toppings.

Related post on A Palatable Pastime: Spicy Sicilian burger with basil mayo

The Christian Science Monitor has assembled a diverse group of food bloggers. Our guest bloggers are not employed or directed by The Monitor and the views expressed are the bloggers' own and they are responsible for the content of their blogs and their recipes. All readers are free to make ingredient substitutions to satisfy their dietary preferences, including not using wine (or substituting cooking wine) when a recipe calls for it. To contact us about a blogger, click here.

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