As much as I love to cook, my husband only has to ask once with an offer to throw something on the grill for dinner. I’d much rather chat with him and my boys as he fires up the grill than be stuck inside, heating up the house. I plan to spend as much time on my deck as possible this summer until the cold drives us inside.
While we do a lot of basic dishes on the grill (who doesn’t love a simple grilled steak or chicken?), I get tired of the same old, same old and am constantly thinking about how to put different spins on old classics. Of course, there’s nothing more classic than a grilled burger — a dish whose beauty lies in its straightforward, honest approach. All you need is a beef patty and a bun. Not that anyone ever leaves it in its most pristine state. We all adorn it in some way or another, whether it’s with the basic cheese, lettuce and tomato or something more elaborate. The possibilities are endless.
When you have three sons, you find your popularity ratings tend to skyrocket whenever burgers arrive at the table. With that in mind, I try to make it happen on a fairly regular basis (a little pandering never hurt anyone), which gives me lots of opportunity to mix it up a bit. Fortunately for me, the beef and bun concept lends itself well to any number of fresh approaches. I’ve tried everything from Southwest green chile burgers to goat cheese-stuffed turkey burgers to bean and grain burgers that need no meat at all to be satisfying.
They’re all good — it’s hard for a burger not to be — but the one that’s jumped to the top of my family’s favorite list is a mint-spiked, pine nut-laced Greek-style burger served with a creamy yogurt/mayo sauce studded with chunks of feta cheese. I add a couple of healthy handfuls of chopped spinach, which adds terrific flavor and color. I use a lean ground beef in this version, although ground lamb would be another delicious option.
The patties and sauce can be made a few hours ahead of time, covered and kept refrigerated until you — or better yet, someone else — is ready to grill.
Meredith Deeds of Edina is the author of “Everyday to Entertaining” and “The Big Book of Appetizers.” Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @meredithdeeds.