Wine Varietal: Cabernet Sauvignon
In college I had my first exposure to Middle Eastern cuisine.My school was in the Atlantic Avenue neighborhood of Brooklyn, NY, home to a long established collection of Middle Eastern restaurants, bakeries, and food stores. The tantalizing aromas of the spice shops and bakeries bring a little bit of the shouk to downtown Brooklyn. This burger incorporates the flavors of the kebabs and breads that made my four years there so much tastier.
1 tomato, seeded and finely chopped
1 cucumber, peeled and finely chopped
2 Tbs. flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
1/2 small onion, finely chopped
1 Tbs. fresh mint, finely chopped
Juice of 1/2 lemon
2 Tbs. Colavita extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp. zaatar (optional)
1/2 c. mayonnaise
2 Tbs. tahini
2 Tbs. lemon juice
2 cloves garlic, crushed
Salt to taste
2 lb. ground beef (80% lean, if available)
10 sprigs flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. cardamom
3/4 tsp. baharat (available at some Middle Eastern groceries or see following recipe)
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
3/4 tsp. hot paprika
2-3 Tbs. vegetable oil for brushing rack
6 small loaves pita
(Baharat: Makes about 1/2 cup
2 Tbs. fresh ground black pepper
1 Tbs. ground coriander
1 Tbs. ground cloves
2 Tbs. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. ground cardamom
1 nutmeg, grated
pinch of ground cinnamon
Mix together until well blended.)
For Mediterranean salad: Combine tomato, cucumber, parsley, onion, and mint in a non-reactive bowl and toss gently. Combine lemon juice, olive oil, zaatar, and salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle over the vegetables and toss well. Cover and reserve until needed.
For Tahini Aioli: Whisk together mayonnaise, tahini, lemon juice, and garlic in a non-reactive bowl. Add salt to taste. Cover and refrigerate until needed.
Heat coals in chimney. When white ash appears, arrange coals for grilling over direct heat.
Mix together ground beef and parsley in a large bowl. Add onion and mix well. Mix together salt, cardamom, baharat, pepper and paprika and mix into the meat. With wet hands, form the meat into 6 patties.
Brush the grill rack with the vegetable oil. Grill burgers over direct heat until burgers reach an internal temperature of 160°. When burgers are nearly done, place pitas over indirect heat and heat until warm but not crisp. Split pitas in half and place a burger inside. Top with salad and drizzle liberally with tahini aioli.