Lamb a little leaner

Beef may claim to be what’s for dinner in America, but in the Middle East, that honor often goes to lamb. It’s prepared in innumerable ways, but my favorite is when the lamb is ground, spiced and grilled, then topped with some kind of yogurt sauce and tucked into a pita. And that’s how we’re rolling here.

The only problem with ground lamb is that it can be quite fatty. Generally speaking, fat is where the flavor is — and the moisture. But lamb fat is saturated fat, and it’s best to keep our intake down.

Lamb is packed with flavor, which means even the leaner cuts deliver big taste. What about the missing juiciness? We’ve replaced it with vegetables.

This burger remains super juicy thanks to caramelized onions and some zucchini. The burger then is seasoned with garlic, oregano and lemon, though you can swap out oregano for basil, dill, mint or rosemary. If you’re not a fan of lamb, this recipe also is dandy made with beef.

Sara Moulton was executive chef at Gourmet magazine for nearly 25 years, and spent a decade hosting several Food Network shows. She stars in public television’s “Sara’s Weeknight Meals” and has written three cookbooks, including “Sara Moulton’s Everyday Family Dinners.”

Grilled Middle Eastern Lamb Burgers With Garlic Sauce

Serves 4. Recipe is by Sara Moulton.

1 medium zucchini (10-12 ozs.)

Kosher salt

11/2 tbls. extra-virgin olive oil

1 cup finely chopped yellow onion

1 cup nonfat Greek yogurt

11/2 tsps. minced garlic, divided

2 tsps. grated lemon zest, divided

Ground black pepper

1 lb. lean ground lamb

1 tbl. finely chopped fresh oregano

Olive oil cooking spray

4 pita bread halves

Grated carrots and chopped cucumbers, to serve

1. Use a food processor or box grater to coarsely grate zucchini. Transfer zucchini to a strainer, toss with ½ teaspoon of salt and let it drain over the sink for 15 minutes. After draining, working with a small handfuls, squeeze out the zucchini to get rid of as much liquid as possible.

2. While zucchini is draining, in a large nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, for 6 minutes or until golden brown. Add zucchini and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Transfer mixture to a medium bowl and let cool to room temperature.

3. Heat a grill to medium.

4. Meanwhile, to make the sauce, combine the yogurt, ½ teaspoon of garlic, 1 teaspoon of lemon zest, and salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

5. When zucchini mixture has cooled, add lamb, oregano, remaining lemon zest, remaining garlic and ¼ teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Mix well, shape into 4 patties, each about ½-inch thick. Spray burgers lightly with olive oil cooking spray, then grill until medium-rare, 3-4 minutes per side.

6. Serve each burger in a pita half topped with garlic sauce, carrots and cucumber.

Nutrition information per serving: 500 calories (250 calories from fat = 50 percent of total calories); 28 grams fat (10 grams saturated; 0 grams trans fats); 110 milligrams cholesterol; 26 grams carbohydrate (3 grams fiber; 5 grams sugar); 35 grams protein; 640 milligrams sodium.

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