Spiced Lamb Burgers with Fig Butter

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Lamb: let's call it the other red meat.  Fatty, flavorful, and surprisingly versatile, it's earned its place in my weekly menu rotation.  New to this tasty animal?  Find some ground lamb and make these easy Spiced Lamb Burgers with Fig Butter - tonight.

Here we are, once again: February. Technically this is National Heart Health month.  As a card-carrying dietitian, surely you'd expect me to devote space here on EFEL to heart-healthy fats, or perhaps physical activity guidelines.  Have at it with those links!

Yes, "healthy" choices are important in your day-to-day, and of course I encourage you to choose plant-based fats when possible and to get your steps in, lift weights, and engage in an overall active lifestyle.  BUT - but...

Speaking from personal experience and guided by plain logic, those daily habits become a bit more palatable (puns always intended), when you can expect some more decadent choices in the mix.  Let's call it...a SUSTAINABLE approach to a lifetime of healthy eating.  No, these Spiced Lamb Burgers with Fig Butter aren't a cheat meal - they're a lifestyle component.  

How you spice these is up to you.  My go-to mix?  About 1/2 a teaspoon each of sumac, dried parsley, dried mint, salt, cumin, and baharat per pound of lamb.  If you can't find baharat at your grocer, plan ahead and treat yourself to an order from The Spice House (I stumbled upon their site last year and haven't looked back).  Fresh parsley, cilantro, and onion that's been given the Microplane treatment are all fine options, too.

Non-negotiable: the Trader Joe's Fig Butter MAKES this dish.  If you're one of those do-it-all type cooks who makes his or her own, more power to you and slather that good stuff right on.  Otherwise, TJ's does a fine job.  Also worth noting: don't play yourself by subbing in a regular old soft bun.  It just doesn't work here.  Get in on those nooks and crannies.  

 Like Sandra Lee, I'm semi homemade.

Like Sandra Lee, I'm semi homemade.

A quick note on food nutrition labels: the standard serving of cheese is 28g - one ounce.  On this burger, and in plenty of other dishes, you'll find that half that amount delivers just enough gooey flavor.  Stretching a block of cheese = stretching your food dollar = winning.

How to round this out into a complete meal?  Keep it simple.  A few sprigs of baby arugula are a must on the burger, so use the rest of a pre-washed bag as a salad base.  Add some cherry tomatoes, canned chick peas, and raw fennel, if you're into it.  Asparagus works, too.  Don't overthink it.

I hope these burgers bring you as much joy as they did to me.  A happy heart is a healthy one!

Enjoy your food.  Enjoy your life!

SPICED LAMB BURGERS WITH FIG BUTTER

AUTHOR: Nicole Rodriguez, RDN, NASM-CPT

Ingredients:

1 medium red onion, sliced thin

1 T. olive oil

1 lb. ground lamb

Spice mix*

4 English Muffins, plain or whole wheat

2 ounces Havarti cheese

4 T. Trader Joe's Fig Butter

Baby arugula

Preparation:

Heat olive oil in medium skillet.  Add red onion and sprinkle with salt; saute until soft and slightly browned.  Transfer to plate and set aside.  Wipe out skillet.  Combine lamb and spice mixture.  Divide into four firmly-packed patties.  Transfer patties to skillet.  Cook 3-4 minutes over medium high heat, flip over, and cook two minutes longer.  In the meantime, toast English muffins, then divide havarti evenly on bottom halves and place under broiler until cheese is melted.  Alternately, you can melt havarti directly on burgers in pan (this is a messier way to go).

Top English muffins with patties and a tablespoon each of fig butter.  Divide onion mixture evenly among burgers, and top with arugula as desired.

Serve immediately.  Pair with leftover arugula, drained canned chick peas, cherry tomatoes, and fennel. 

*1/2 a teaspoon each of sumac, dried parsley, dried mint, salt, cumin, and baharat.

Serves 4.