STYLE

THE HEALTHY PLATE: Recipe for lamb burgers with watercress and creamy mint sauce

04/13/2015 01:39 EDT | Updated 06/19/2015 02:59 EDT
No meat says spring quite like lamb. When I lived in France, the seasonality of meats such as lamb was celebrated. Rarely have I tasted lamb so mild and sweet as the first cuts of spring lamb from the South of France.

While healthier cooks tend to limit red meat, happily there is a place for lamb on the healthy plate! While animal proteins bring saturated fats to the table, only about half of lamb's fat is saturated. And lamb is full of protein, which means even a few ounces of it can be filling. A 4-ounce raw portion has just about 200 calories, which means it's easy to celebrate spring with an evening of juicy, tasty lamb.

I love lamb that isn't gamey, so I tend to do one of two things. I either buy tender baby lamb racks, then season them with garlic, mustard and herbs before roasting them (delicious, but pricey), or I buy less expensive ground lamb and make patties or burgers. And let me tell you, these burgers are amazing.

To keep the lamb burgers extra mild, I often mix in another variety of ground meat, usually turkey or lean beef. I add just enough to take the gamey edge off the lamb. The result is a perfect flavour that reminds me of a French springtime supper.

This lamb burger recipe screams spring with a dose of seasonal peppery watercress (a healthy green!) and a creamy fresh mint and shallot sauce that is spooned onto the still-sizzling patties when they are placed on the buns. Full of flavour and just a bit indulgent, these lamb burgers are a celebration indeed.

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LAMB BURGERS WITH WATERCRESS AND CREAMY MINT SAUCE

Start to finish: 25 minutes

Servings: 4

3/4 pound ground lamb

1/2 pound 93 per cent lean ground beef

Kosher salt and ground black pepper

Garlic powder

1/3 cup light mayonnaise

1/2 cup low-fat plain Greek yogurt

1/4 cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves, roughly chopped

1 small shallot, roughly chopped

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

4 burger buns, toasted

6-inch segment of an English cucumber, thinly sliced

1 large tomato, sliced and salted

2 cups watercress

In a large bowl, gently combine the lamb and ground beef until mixed. Form the mixture into 4 patties, then season them with salt, pepper and garlic powder.

Heat a grill or large grill pan to medium-high. Lightly oil the grill grates using an oil-soaked paper towel held with tongs, or coat a grill pan with cooking spray. Add the burgers and cook for 8 to 10 minutes (for medium), flipping them after 4 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the mint sauce. In a blender, combine the mayonnaise, yogurt, mint, shallot and Worcestershire sauce. Blend until creamy.

To assemble the burgers, divide the cucumber slices between the buns, then set a burger on top. Spoon 2 tablespoons of the mint sauce onto each burger, then top with a tomato slice and watercress.

Nutrition information per serving: 450 calories; 190 calories from fat (42 per cent of total calories); 21 g fat (7 g saturated; 0.5 g trans fats); 95 mg cholesterol; 28 g carbohydrate; 2 g fiber; 6 g sugar; 37 g protein; 730 mg sodium.

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Food Network star Melissa d'Arabian is an expert on healthy eating on a budget. She is the author of the cookbook, "Supermarket Healthy." http://www.melissadarabian.net

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