From the SCCC Kitchen: Mediterranean hamburgers and oven fries are delightful pairing

For many, Mediterranean cuisine means bruschetta, hummus and baba ganoush. Christopher Tanner has an

“From the SCCC Kitchen” offers Daily Gazette readers tastes from Schenectady County Community College’s nationally accredited American Culinary Federation culinary arts program. Recipes selected by SCCC instructors can easily be prepared at home. Summer means summer grilling, and summer grilling means hamburgers. So today, technical specialist (and certified executive chef) Christopher Tanner offers an exotic taste on the red patty — “Mediterranean Hamburger With Oven Fries.” Tanner offers more cooking tips at his blog, “Gastronomic Inspirations” at


For many, Mediterranean cuisine means bruschetta, hummus and baba ganoush.

Christopher Tanner has an idea to make grilled ground beef the tastiest thing under the Tuscan sun. A mix of spices and vegetables gives his Mediterranean hamburger old world taste on new world American patios and decks.

“Hamburgers are all the rage now. It’s very popular to do something with a hamburger,” Tanner said. “This particular one is like taking all the items from ratatouille, which is a Mediterranean vegetable dish, and mixing them into the burger.”

Oregano, thyme, paprika and pepper are among spices that mix with the meat. So do chunks of roasted red pepper.

“It’s a lot more moist because you do have the vegetable that’s inside there, and there’s a bit of Parmesan cheese as well,” Tanner said. “What that does is kind of bind those flavors together.”

The choice of hamburger makes the Mediterranean.

“A lot of people try to go for the 90 percent lean hamburger meat,” Tanner said. “But at the same time there’s nothing better than good chuck that’s 85 percent lean. You’re grilling it anyway, so a lot of that fat’s going to come out of it. I really suggest going for that 85 percent. Have a hamburger once in a while, don’t have them four or fives times a week.”

There’s also a positive health factor in the recipe. Grilled vegetables and tomato top the burger, which is without the giant slab of cheese served on burgers at so many picnics and barbecues. And the spiced potato wedges are cooked in the oven, and never get near a vat of cooking oil.

Such a formidable hamburger should not be served on a bun. Tanner takes a tip from Italian bakers, and serves his grilled ground round on thick bread.

“You want the bread to match the flavors,” he said. “I prefer Perreca’s.”

Mediterranean Hamburger With Oven Fries

For spice mix:

1 tablespoon dried oregano

1 tablespoon dried thyme

1 tablespoon paprika

2 teaspoons ground fennel

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon ground cumin

For Mediterranean hamburger and oven fries:

1 bulb fennel, sliced thin

4 eggplant slices, 1⁄4-inch thick

1 yellow onion, sliced 1⁄4-inch thick

1 zucchini, cut into 1⁄4-inch slices

2 pounds ground beef (85 percent lean)

1 roasted red pepper, chopped

4 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

4 tomato slices, 1⁄4-inch thick

8 leaves basil, torn into small pieces

2 Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into wedges

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

8 thick slices of Italian bread.

Salt and pepper, to season

Combine the spice mix in a small bowl until well mixed. Divide the spice mix in half, reserving half to season fries.

Heat a grill to medium-high heat, also preheat oven to 375 degrees. Toss the fennel, eggplant, onion and zucchini slices in 1 tablespoon of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill vegetables to attain grill marks and they begin to soften. Remove from grill and set aside.

In a bowl, combine ground beef, half of spice mixture, red peppers and Parmesan cheese until well mixed. Form ground beef mixture into four hamburger patties and set aside.

In a bowl, combine potato wedges, 1 tablespoon olive oil, and remaining spice mix until potatoes are well coated. Place potatoes on a sheet tray in a single layer and bake in the oven until golden brown, approximately 30 minutes.

Fifteen minutes before the potatoes are finished baking, oil the grill and grill the burgers to desired finish. Also, grill each side of the bread until golden brown.

To assemble burgers, place one slice of bread on plate, top with burger, tomato slice and then with the slice of eggplant, slices of pepper, zucchini, onion and fennel; top with shredded basil; finally top with second slice of toasted Italian bread. Serve accompanied by a side of the oven fries.

Categories: Life and Arts

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