Oregon Grilled Beef Burgers and Tomato with Yogurt Sauce

Pairs well with:


Bright and full-bodied, this Zinfandel wine is a curious contradiction in tastes.

In the Oregon high desert region, where we vacation, just ninety minutes east of Portland in the Columbia River Gorge, we enjoy beautiful, dry weather through most of the year. Outdoor cooking is a way of life here. Cattle graze on natural grasslands, wine country is all around, fruit trees of pear, apple and cherry give the area its agricultural heart.
As a career flight attendant, I was especially struck by the intriguing flavorings of the Mediterranean region. My travels in Turkey left me with the impression that their use of cinnamon, cumin and mint spicing, among others, adds a haunting and evocative spirit to everyday foods. Our friends and neighbors enjoy the treat of this unusual and delicious burger, transporting them to a distant culture, while we relax here in the Pacific Northwest. The spicing in this burger elevates the flavor profile, and pairs well with the local old vine zinfandel wine.


makes 6 patties

For the Beef Burgers:
2 slices firm-textured white bread
Water for soaking the bread
2 lbs. Ground Beef Sirloin
1 Cup coarsely grated onion
4 cloves minced garlic
3 Tbsp. Each finely chopped parsley and mint
1 Tbsp. Ground cumin
1 Tbsp. Paprika
3 tsp. Kosher salt
1 tsp. Fresh ground black pepper
½ tsp. Cinnamon
1/4 tsp. Cayenne pepper
Six good quality hamburger buns
Olive oil for brushing on the buns

For the Tomato:
pure olive oil
Large tomatoes, sliced ½ inch thick into 6 slices
2 tsp. Ground cumin
1 tsp. Kosher salt, or to taste

For the Yogurt sauce:
2 Cups plain yogurt
2 tsp. Extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp. Minced garlic
1 tsp. Kosher salt
pinch cayenne pepper


For the Burgers:
In a large bowl, cover bread with water. Pour off water and squeeze water out of the bread. Add ground beef, onion, garlic, parsley, mint, cumin, paprika, salt, pepper, cinnamon and cayenne to the bowl. With your hand, knead until smooth. Divide into six burger patties(about 1″ thick). Chill patties about 30 minutes or up to one day.

Brush patties with oil and grill over medium heat until browned and firm, about 5 minutes per side.

Meanwhile, brush inside of buns with olive oil and place on the grill over low heat to warm and toast slightly. Spread yogurt sauce on bottom half of grilled bun, and top with burger, grilled tomato and bun top.

For the Tomato slices:
Brush both sides of Tomato slices with olive oil and sprinkle with cumin and salt. Place on hot grill over medium heat until very warm, about 1 minute per side. Place on top of patty in the grilled bun.

For the Yogurt sauce:
Scoop yogurt into a paper coffee filter. Set in a strainer over a bowl. Chill and let drain for 1 ½
hours. Transfer yogurt to a bowl.
Heat olive oil over medium heat in a small skillet, add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Let garlic oil cool slightly and stir into yogurt. Season with salt and cayenne.