A burger and a salad. Sounds like a typical lunch or light dinner at any given restaurant - but not at my house. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good cheeseburger (queue up Jimmy Buffett) and a green salad on occasion. But this weekend I went in a slightly different direction.

We were volunteering at a local fund raiser Saturday afternoon. Our shift ended about the time I would normally have dinner ready which means that we would be starving. Instead of picking up something on the way home, I planned on serving a quick and healthy dinner with a bit of a twist. Lamb burgers in crispy grilled pita bread and a savory cold farro salad were on the menu.

I prepared as much as possible before reporting to my event. In this case, it was the farro salad so it could have some time to let the flavors meld while chilling in the refrigerator. The lamb burgers are easy to whip up and only take about 10 minutes to grill. Oh, they can also be stuffed ahead of time, but only for about an hour or the pita bread falls apart from the moisture.

Farro Salad

Farro is an ancient grain that is eaten all over the world. It is a member of the wheat family but has gluten levels much lower than conventional wheat. The grain is extremely high in fiber and is a good source of iron and magnesium. Farro has a slightly nutty flavor and is a good substitute for barley, quinoa, spelt or rice.

The recipe for Farro Salad below contains pistachios, lemon, ginger, olive oil, herbs and a bit of Serrano chili pepper for some heat. I tasted the salad immediately after mixing it together and thought I had made it way too spicy. But, after it chilled for a couple of hours, the flavors melded and resulted in a salad with a great fresh flavor, and a much lower level of heat. If you are hesitant about using the whole Serrano pepper, I suggest using about half the recipe amount.

Lamb burgers

The lamb burgers have a definite Moroccan influence due to coriander, cumin and cinnamon mixed with the lamb. The fat from the lamb soaks into the pita bread as the meat cooks yielding a crispy “burger” that is exploding with delicious flavor. 

These burgers are great because you can prepare the filling up to 8 hours ahead of time. Stuff them up to an hour before you want to cook and they cook in about 10 minutes on the grill. I used one pound of lamb, adjusting all the other ingredient amounts, with the recipe to yield three full pita servings (two halves). I just munched down these crispy burgers but you could serve them open face style with lettuce, tomato, and a light yogurt sauce.

Next time you want a burger, why not try something different. Live, Laugh, Love and Eat Well

Spiced Lamb Burger

Courtesy of Bon Appetit

Serves 8 full or 16 half pita burgers

  • 2 ½ LBS ground lamb
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • ¾ cup chopped fresh leaf parsley
  • 1 TBSP ground coriander
  • ¾ tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup olive oil, plus more for grilling
  • 8 thick medium pita breads with pockets (or 16 halves)

Using a fork, mix together the lamb, onion, parsley, coriander, cumin, cinnamon, salt, pepper, and ¼ cup oil in a large bowl. Cover and chill at least 1 hour.

Prepare grill for medium heat and oil grate. Working one at a time, open each whole pita pocket by cutting along the seam, halfway around the perimeter. Spoon filling into pitas, spreading to the edges. Close by pressing on filling to seal.

Grill the pitas until filling is cooked through and bread is crisp, about 5 minutes per side.

NOTE: Filling can be made 8 hours ahead and kept chilled. Pita breads can be stuffed about 1 hour ahead if covered and chilled.

Farro with Pistachios, Mixed Herbs, and Golden Raisins

Courtesy of Bon Appetit

Serves 4 to 6

  • 2 cups farro, uncooked
  • ½ tsp kosher salt, plus more for taste
  • ½ cup pistachios
  • 1 ½ tsp finely grated lemon zest
  • 3 TBSP fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp finely grated peeled ginger
  • ½ tsp sugar
  • 1/3 cup olive or grape-seed oil
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 Serrano chili, sliced into rings (use less if you don’t want spicy)
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped mixed fresh herbs like cilantro, mint and parsley
  • 1/3 cup golden raisins

Preheat oven to 350 F. Rinse farro under cold water and then cook according to package directions, skimming surface occasionally until tender; about 15 to 25 minutes depending on brand.

While farro is cooking, toast pistachios on a rimmed cookie sheet, tossing once, until golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes (I used pre-roasted pistachios). Let them cool and then roughly chop.

Whisk together lemon zest, lemon juice, ginger, sugar, and ½ tsp salt in a medium bowl. Whisking constantly, gradually add oil. Whisk until emulsified, season vinaigrette with salt and pepper.

Drain farro and rinse under cold water. Transfer to a large bowl and add chili, herbs, and pistachios; toss to combine. Drizzle the vinaigrette, season with salt and pepper, and toss to coat. (I let chill in refrigerator about 4 hours).

Note: Farro can be cooked 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.


You can download the recipes of the week HERE!