Greece-y goodness 

Say “Opa!” to these Greek lamb sliders in pita pockets.

When it comes to burgers, quality meat can make a simple burger great, but flavorful additions will really put it over the top. Herbs and spices mixed into the meat, tasty toppings, quality cheeses and fancy buns will all contribute to making one stellar gourmet burger.

Take, for example, my Greek-inspired sliders. Feta cheese and warming spices add a flavorful kick to the ground lamb, and instead of lettuce and tomato, the red wine vinegar-tossed spinach and onion serve as the topping. And forget the boring standard bun; these Greco masterpieces are sandwiched in fluffy pita bread.

Besides being utterly delectable, they’re pretty healthy as well. Lamb meat contains omega-3 and monounsaturated fatty acids (aka the good fats). When grocery shopping, go for pasture-raised New Zealand lamb (or grass-fed beef) as it contains higher levels of these essential fatty acids. For a lightened version of the sliders without sacrificing any of the flavor, simply nix the Feta and the pitas, and either bake or grill them instead of pan-frying.

These Greek sliders are perfect for a summer cookout, a game nightght Sauvignon Blanc from South Africa or New Zealand.

Greek Lamb Slider Pita Pockets

Makes 4-6 servings

Ingredients:

1 1/2 pounds ground lamb (or a mix of half lamb and half ground beef)

1 tablespoon chopped, fresh oregano

2 teaspoons paprika

2 teaspoons cinnamon

2 teaspoons coriander (substitute cumin if needed)

4 cloves garlic, minced

Large pinch of salt and pepper

1/2 cup crumbled Feta cheese

Canola, sunflower or grapeseed oil (for cooking), as needed

3 pita pockets, cut into quarters (I used Stonefire Pita)

2 cups baby spinach leaves

1/2 red onion, thinly sliced

1 tablespoon chopped, fresh mint

1 tablespoon chopped, fresh oregano

1 tablespoons red wine vinegar, or to taste

1 tablespoons olive oil

A pinch of salt and pepper

Directions:

Mix herbs, spices, garlic and feta in a large bowl, then add the lamb and mix with your hands until completely combined. Shape into small patties, about 1 to 3/4-inches thick. Cook patties in a pre-heated, large sauté pan over medium-high heat with sunflower or canola oil, about 2 minutes per side for medium.

Alternately, you can cook them in a 400-degree oven for 8-10 minutes or grill them on a medium-high grill, cooking 2-3 minutes per side. If you want to toast the pita, preheat oven to 375 degrees. Open the pita triangles and lay them flat on a sprayed baking sheet pan. Put under the bake for 2 minutes or until slightly toasted. (Don’t let them overcook and become too crispy.)

Tuck sliders into pita pockets. Just before serving, toss together the spinach, onion, herbs, vinegar and olive oil in a medium bowl. Place salad atop burgers, pressing pita pockets down firmly to compact, or secure them with toothpicks. Note: This recipe can easily make 4 full-sized burgers. Increase cooking time and cut pitas in half to serve.

Need more tasty inspiration? Visit CulinaryPirate.com for more from Katie Machol.

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