Well the sun is trying its damnedest to make Summer happen so I am going to try and keep a summer vibe going in my cooking. This means going for salads with lots of bright colours; multi- colour cherry tomatoes, glistening black olives, yellow mangos, lovely green olive oils, red chillies and mountains of green leaves. I love salads, not the basic butter-head lettuce, wedge of tomato, bit of hard- boiled egg and slice of cooked ham that was salad to most people in Ireland for much of my childhood but the kind of anything goes salad that combines texture, colour and flavour in way that is immensely satisfying.
If my memory is correct I first had a version of a mango and tomato salad at dinner cooked by my sister Deborah. The sweetness of the mango with the tomatoes and the lime juice make for an amazing combination and works well with burgers, pork chops, grilled chicken or fish. It is a good side dish to pretty much any kind of BBQ meat.
Lamb burgers are a favourite of mine as for some reason I can’t digest beef anymore, I have a momentary pang of sorrow every time I fry up a steak for some lucky dinner guest. Pork and turkey burgers have their place but only lamb replicates the juiciness of a good beef burger, I know it is because of the fat content and I have made my peace with that, sometimes flavour wins over other concerns.
These burgers with a high garlic content, a good whack of coriander, a hit of chilli and crumbled feta are a great alternative to a regular hamburger. They are great served with in a bun or pitta bread or just with a salad and work really well with the mango & tomato salad and a good dollop of crème fraiche instead of mayonnaise.
450 grams (standard supermarket pack) of lamb mince
5 cloves of garlic, finely chopped, crushed or grated
1 red chilli finely chopped
1 big handful of coriander chopped finely
100 grams of feta cheese ( ½ standard pack) crumbled or diced.
A good pinch of salt and pepper
1. Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl and form into patties, you will get four burgers out of this amount of meat. When shaping the patties remember that the lamb will shrink up as the burgers are cooking so press them out as much as possible so you don’t end up with a marble sized burger lost in a giant bun.
2. Heat about a teaspoon of oil in a pan, the lamb will release a terrifying amount of fat as the meat cooks so you don’t need a lot of oil in there as the fat will render out of the meat fairy quickly. If you would rather you can grill these burgers as well, just keep turning them regularly and check make sure they are cooked through before serving.
3. When frying I cook the burgers over a high heat to brown on each side and then turn the heat down and cover the pan with a lid for 15 / 20 minutes. I then remove the lid a cook for a further 5 minutes. The cooking time depends on the thickness of the burgers so if you have flattened your out well they will take less time.
Mango & Tomato Salad
1 ripe mango, peeled and diced
3 – 4 spring onions, sliced finely
3 regular sized or a cup of cherry tomatoes, diced, I don’t deseed or peel these as life is short and I don’t mind tomato seeds.
Juice of 1 lime
1 red chilli finely chopped
1 tsp of honey or sugar, or a bit more depending on your taste
A small handful of coriander finely chopped
1. Mix everything together in a bowl, this is a very technical recipe isn’t it. Add the lime juice and enough honey/ sugar to get a nice even mix of sweet and sour. Salt and pepper to taste and leave for a few minutes for the flavours to come together.
As I said you can serve the burgers topped with the mango & tomato salad in a bun or pitta with crème fraiche, or with a big green salad and some potato wedges.