While I don’t want to sound trite, I must say the first of May caught me off guard. I can’t believe it’s May, the school year is almost over and the kids will be out for almost three months, it’s time to register Top Gun for kindergarten, and summer is almost here. But that also means it’s grilling time around our house, actually more grilling time since we like to grill year round, we just happen to do it more often in the warm months. Really, I like grilled food in January but I don’t like freezing my fingers while making it!
Burgers are one of Builder Guy’s favorite foods, so we grill up a batch every once in a while. Some times I just want a slice of sharp cheddar and good barbecue sauce on top, but other times I like to play with the toppings: guacamole with caramelized onions, chimichurri, chipotle salsa, roasted red peppers with some kind of gooey cheese. The sloppier the better. And I happen to like tzatziki on my burgers, especially with arugula or an arugula pesto.
I adapted the tzatziki recipe below from Peter who runs the terrific Greek food blog, Kalofagas. I do things just a little different, like add a little grind of fresh black pepper and a touch of lemon juice, so my version isn’t entirely authentic. You should taste his recipe, especially if you like Ouzo. Consider my measurements a guide, as some days I add a touch more garlic or pepper depending on my mood. You can make the tzatziki up to one day in advance, just keep it refrigerated until ready to use.
Greek Burgers and Tzatziki
- box grater
- 2 medium bowls
- 2 pounds ground chuck (ground lamb, or soy burgers)
- feta cheese (1 to 2 tablespoons per burger (optional)
- ½ cucumber (seeded and grated)
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt (+ more to taste)
- 16 ounces Greek yogurt
- 2 cloves garlic (minced)
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
- ½ teaspoon fresh lemon juice (or Ouzo as recommend by Peter at Kalofagas)
- 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
- pinch fresh ground black pepper
- buns (can be gluten-free)
- spinach arugula pesto or arugula leaves
- red onion slices
- TZATZIKI: Put the strainer over a medium bowl, then put the grated cucumber into the strainer and sprinkle on ¼ teaspoon salt. Let it sit up to 30 minutes, pressing with the back of a spoon occasionally to squeeze out as much liquid as possible.
- In the other medium bowl, stir together the strained cucumber, Greek yogurt, garlic, fresh dill, and lemon juice. Add more salt to taste, then stir in the olive oil and black pepper. Cover and keep chilled.
- Shape the meat into 6 to 8 burger patties, folding 1 to 2 tablespoons of feta cheese in the middle of each (optional, but good). Grill the burgers to desired doneness.
- Remove from the grill and cover with foil for a 2 to 3 minutes to seal in the juices. Assemble the burgers in the following order: bun bottom, burger patty, pesto, tzatziki, onion, bun top.