Lamb makes a marvelous spring burger; its meat is clean, mild, rich and slightly sweet. When mixed with aromatic Middle Eastern spices, such as cumin and rosemary, it resembles the classic kofta, a seasoned ground lamb kebab that is ubiquitous in home kitchens and restaurants from India to Morocco.

Because lamb is leaner and more tender than beef or pork, it should be handled with care and cooked over lower heat for a longer time. When shopping for ground lamb, look for meat with some fat in it that is not packed too tightly into its plastic tray. Or, buy it directly from a local butcher or from the meat counter at the grocery store or co-op.

Be gentle when working the spices into the lamb. Don’t over-handle the freshly ground meat and when shaping the burgers, do not press them together too firmly. When cooking them, medium-done is perfect. Because the burgers are so flavor-packed, you can make smaller-sized patties, but make sure you have enough of them, depending who is at the table.

These are so tasty that I usually skip a bun, as well as ketchup or pickles. My preference is to set the burgers on a light, crunchy salad of shaved fennel dressed with lemony vinaigrette, a dish of mint-garlic yogurt to top things off.


Beth Dooley is the author of “In Winter’s Kitchen.” Find her at