Mediterranean burgers are just the right size

August 01, 2007|By Jill Wendholt Silva | Jill Wendholt Silva,McClatchy-Tribune

Why choose a "whopper" when a "slider" will do?

White Castle's mini-hamburgers make sense -- as long as you can resist ordering (and eating) a sackful.

Experts refer to our inclination to super-size as "portion distortion," a clever phrase that describes how the amount of food we eat has ballooned over time.

Linda Gassenheimer, author of The Portion Plan, points out that in days gone by a 3-ounce hamburger that contained 300 calories was considered a standard serving size. But today the average is closer to a 6-ounce burger with 600 calories.

These Grilled Mediterranean Burgers offer an opportunity to right-size your meal. The modest, palm-sized patties are cut in half and topped with a gourmet vegetable relish of grilled eggplants and onions and chopped grape tomatoes. In addition to great flavor and good nutrition, it adds moisture to the very lean ground meat.

Instead of a traditional bun, choose a whole-grain pita to add nutrition to your diet.

If calories aren't a concern, add a Yogurt-Dill Sauce for added calcium.

Preparation tip: Warm your pita for 30 seconds on the grill to make it easier to open.


Makes 6 servings

1 red onion, cut into 1/2 -inch slices

5 slices unpeeled eggplant, sliced in rounds 1/2 -inch thick

scant amount olive oil

1 cup quartered grape tomatoes

splash red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon minced fresh mint

1 pound ground round

1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 1/2 teaspoons cumin

salt and pepper, to taste

3 whole-grain pocket breads, cut in half

Yogurt-Dill Sauce (optional; recipe below)

Preheat grill to medium-high or allow coals to burn down to white ash. Lightly brush onions and eggplant with olive oil. Grill until tender, 5 to 7 minutes, turning midway through for even cooking. Coarsely chop grilled vegetables and toss with tomatoes, vinegar, a splash of olive oil and fresh mint; set aside.

Combine ground round, parsley, garlic, cumin, salt and pepper. Form into 6 patties. Grill patties, turning halfway through cooking to brown evenly, 7 to 9 minutes or until meat thermometer reaches 160 degrees.

Warm pita on grill or in oven or microwave. Open pocket. Cut burgers in half and place into pocket bread; top with a generous amount of grilled vegetable medley.

Yogurt-Dill Sauce: Combine 1/2 cup plain yogurt, 1 teaspoon lemon juice and 1 teaspoon dill. Serve as a condiment with burger, if desired.

Per serving (without sauce): 208 calories, 6 grams fat, 2 grams saturated fat, 40 milligrams cholesterol, 20 grams carbohydrate, 20 grams protein, 163 milligrams sodium, 3 grams fiber. Recipe analysis provided by the Kansas City Star.

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