“Mediterranean cuisine” has been a buzzword for years, but it is kind of hard to pin down exactly what it is.
Essentially, it’s the foods of countries that ring the Mediterranean Sea, like Greece, Italy, France and Spain. But the cuisines of those countries are so varied that “Mediterranean” is often really used just as a shorthand for healthy, simple foods with lots of fresh vegetables, herbs, and bright flavors.
This sandwich uses a lot of the typical Mediterranean ingredients and flavors: plain yogurt, pita bread, cumin and citrus. However, I used ground beef instead of the lamb that’s often featured in this type of Greek/Mediterranean sandwich. That’s because ground beef is more affordable, much easier to find, and has broader appeal. In fact, you can even pass these off as a new kind of hamburger to the kids.
4 rounds (8-inch) pita bread
3 tablespoons plain yogurt
1 pound ground beef
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cumin, ground
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup plain yogurt
3 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
2 cloves garlic , minced
Salt, to taste
Cayenne pepper, to taste
Juice of about 4 limes
3 cups romaine lettuce, rough chopped
For the Beef Patties: Cut 1/2-inch piece from top of each pita round. Chop these pita scraps finely, then mash them into yogurt and set aside to soften for 5 minutes. Mix beef, cilantro, 1 teaspoon salt, cumin, cayenne, and yogurt mixture together thoroughly with your hands. Form meat mixture into six 2” wide patties. Place patties on plate and put plate in freezer until patties are firm, about 5 minutes.
For Yogurt Sauce: Meanwhile, combine yogurt, cilantro, and garlic in small bowl and season with salt, cayenne, and lime juice to taste. Refrigerate until needed.
Heat oil in 12” nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the patties and cook until well browned, about 2 minutes. Flip patties over, reduce heat to medium, and continue to cook until well browned on second side, about 6 minutes. Transfer patties to paper-towel-lined plate and let drain for several minutes.
Put 3 patties into each pita round with some lettuce and a spoonful of yogurt sauce.