My love of hamburgers goes back a long way. It was my comfort food as a child, the date food at local drive-in restaurants as a teenager, and the easy cheap meal to prepare in my student housing as a college student. Even now, at times, I need my hamburger fix. Kefta is an interesting alternative to the standard hamburger. I found the recipe in The Mediterranean Kitchen by Joyce Goldstein. This wonderful cookbook has the sunny earthy cooking of the European countries bordering on the Mediterranean Sea. Everything from Greek baked goat cheese in filo to Provencal ice cream with lavender and honey is covered.
We are all familiar with Lebanese cooking. Lamb kebabs on pita bread with a cucumber sauce, baba ghanoush, hummus and falafel are all available at Middle Eastern restaurants. Kefta is a Lebanese ground beef patty flavored with cumin and parsley and served in a pita bread with a tahini sauce. I love the flavors of this fresh take on the hamburger. I lightened up the tahini sauce by using a yogurt tahini dressing from Eating Well magazine. I am now inspired to adapt the lowly hamburger to other flavor twists and cuisines. Do you have any suggestions?
2 pounds ground beef
1 medium onion, grated
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Olive oil for cooking kefta
6 pita breads
6 pita breads
Tahini Dressing (recipe follows)
For the kefta, place all the ingredients in a mixing bowl and knead with your hands until blended. Shape into 12 oval patties.
Heat the grill or broiler. Brush the kefta with oil and grill or broil 3 to 4 minutes each side. Or heat 3 tablespoons oil in a cast-iron pan over high heat and saute the kefta 3 minutes each side.
Meanwhile wrap the pitas in foil and warm in oven.
To serve, cut the pitas crosswise in half. Fill each with lettuce, tomato slice and one kefta patty. Spoon over some of the tahini dressing.
1/2 cup low-fat plain yogurt
2 tablespoons tahini (sesame paste)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/3 cup chopped parsley
1/4 teaspoon salt