by Joan Saunders | photos by Amanda Cribdon –
Nothing says summer to me like firing up the grill, cracking open a bottle of wine and leisurely enjoying a wonderful dinner outside. Best of all, the cook and the guests or family are right there, enjoying the process together.
I have always loved barbecuing as it usually involves fewer dishes and a relaxed mood. Having a grilled dinner also means you can often prepare much of it beforehand, so it’s easy to pull it together when you get back from your hike, swim or day at the beach.
Burgers are a favorite of mine, and there are so many choices. Vegetarian? Try a grilled portobello. Turkey? Add in spices and cranberries to ramp up the tastebuds. Lamb or beef? Definitely. The meat can be layered with some fabulous options, including stuffing the patty with goat cheese.
With a dinner centred on the amazing flavours of Greece, we start with ground meat patties wrapped around herbed goat cheese. You could also buy goat cheese that’s already seasoned with tomato and basil; whatever works for you.
What I found with this recipe is that if you freeze the cheese, just for a bit, in little disks beforehand, it’s easier to avoid its tasty goodness oozing out of the burgers as you barbeque. You don’t want to lose the yumminess of the cheese because of how you put together the patties. It’s incredibly sad seeing the goat cheese, like a mini lava flow, on its way out of the patty and onto your grill. Believe me; I know!
It’s then all about the condiments. Stick with the theme and put out tzatziki, grilled onions and sliced tomatoes. You can, of course, add the standard options to the table, but you can also encourage experimentation. I like a sharp grainy mustard with this, to give it some kick.
While avocados are not always what is thought of in terms of Greek food, they work so well in a salad with a Mediterranean focus. Again, if you’re out for the day have the veggies chopped and prepared, except the avocado so it doesn’t brown, and throw it all together with the dressing when you’re ready. You can always toss the avocado cubes in lemon juice to avoid browning and to add even more zingy goodness.
Summer can fly by, so relish those warm evenings outside and fire up the grill. A tip: you don’t have to tell anyone if the cheese oozes out of the patty. I found it’s definitely a need-to-know situation and, really, do others need to know? Nope. They just need to enjoy.
Goat Cheese Stuffed Burgers
1 tbsp + 1 tsp olive oil
1 tbsp fresh basil, chopped
1 tbsp fresh oregano, chopped
4 ounces / ½ cup soft goat cheese
½ cup diced onion
1 lb each ground beef, ground lamb
1 cup breadcrumbs
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tsp pepper
½ tsp salt
- Mix together goat cheese, 1 tbsp olive oil, basil and oregano until well combined. Using a tablespoon of the mix for each, make into six small disks; freeze until ready to use.
- Heat 1 tsp olive oil in skillet over medium heat. Cook and stir the onions until translucent, about 5 minutes.
- In bowl, put cooked onions, lamb, beef, egg, breadcrumbs, garlic, salt and pepper. Divide mixture into six parts, roll into balls; cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
- Preheat grill for medium high heat.
- Working with one portion of meat at a time, make an indentation in the centre of the ball with your thumb. Fill indentation with one goat cheese disk. Work the meat around the disk, gently, until the cheese is fully enclosed, making a burger shaped patty. Make sure it’s sealed. Repeat to make six.
- Grill patties on preheated grill about 6-8 minutes per side, or until cooked through as desired.
Toppings? Sauteed onions, tomatoes, tzatziki, grainy mustard.
Mediterranean Avocado Salad
1 pint / 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
½ red onion, thinly sliced
¾ cup kalamata olives, pitted and halved
1 avocado, cubed
1 head romaine lettuce, torn into bite-sized pieces
½ cup chopped parsley
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp red wine vinegar
1 tbsp chopped fresh oregano
juice from 1 lemon
¾ cup crumbled Greek feta
- Mix tomatoes, red onion, olives, avocado and lettuce in large bowl with parsley, olive oil, red wine vinegar, oregano and lemon juice.
- Add salt and pepper to taste; toss.
- Top with feta.
Recipes amalgamated and adapted from: