Middle Eastern kofta kebabs (spiced ground lamb or beef shaped around skewers) are delicious, but a bit of a project. Here, a similar spice blend flavors a weeknight-friendly burger.
2 garlic cloves
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1/4 cup grated onion (use a Microplane)
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 1/2 pounds ground beef (at least 20 percent fat for a juicier burger)
Olive oil for brushing pita
3 pita breads
About 3/4 cup store-bought tzatziki
Cucumber and tomato slices, butter lettuce, and fresh mint leaves
How to Make It
Heat a gas or charcoal grill to medium-high (400°), or heat a stovetop grill pan over medium-high heat.
Mince garlic with salt, then smash with the flat side of the knife into a paste. Scrape into a large bowl and stir in ginger, onion, cayenne, coriander, cumin, allspice, pepper, and parsley until thoroughly combined.
Add ground beef. With your hands, gently mix.
Shape mixture into 6 oblong patties that will each fit in a pita half, making patties about 3/4 in. thick. Oil cooking grate, using tongs and a wad of oiled paper towels. Grill patties until well browned and just pink inside, 4 to 5 minutes per side.
Cut pita breads in half crosswise. Gently loosen the halves to form pockets. Brush each with oil and add to grill. Toast pita until pale golden and crisp, 1 to 2 minutes. Spread inside of each pocket with 1 to 2 tbsp. tzatziki. Tuck burger inside, followed by cucumber, tomato, lettuce, and mint leaves.
Wine pairing: Lasseter Family 2012 "Chemin de Fer" (Sonoma Valley; $56).
Wow were these good (albeit a bit messy). I used Trader Joe's Cilantro chive yogurt dip instead of tzatziki. I would make the burgers a bit thinner next time so they fit into the pita without breaking them. The flavor is wonderful! I also sliced some thin red onions. This can also be made in advance and shaped so it's super easy for a backyard dinner with company. Have lots of napkins on hand they are bit messy but worth it!I served a couple of TJ's Middle Eastern salads on the side for a quick week night dinner (Tabbouli and Balela chick pea salad). I'll be making this again!
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