Be Inspired” Seasonally with Rita Calvert

September’s burst of summer glory segues brilliantly into the glorious hues of autumn. It’s such a great time of year for produce. This menu highlights produce and meat still abundant locally so let me put this yummy menu in your head for the week.


Greek Layered Burgers with Cucumber Yogurt  Sauce (Raita)

 Green Bean and Nectarine Salad with Spicy Gomasio


 Greek Layered Burgers with  Cucumber Yogurt  Sauce (Raita)

Serves 4

Goat is the most consumed meat in the world-it's what most have for dinner every nigh,t if they have meat at all. Given that fact and my work with goat meat for The Grassfed Gourmet Fires It Up!, I was thrilled to find local goat meat at the farmers market on Jones Station Road in Severna Park. The goat cubes had been highly recommended from friends who had know foods of the world and grilled the marinated meat when they entertained. Superb was the pronouncement. Go for goat or lamb in this recipe as that makes it very Greek in style.

With these layered burgers, you can start with a bun or pita for the base or just use greens as I did.

  • 1 pound ground lamb or goat
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons fresh oregano, minced
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • fresh greens
  • 1 large sweet onion, caramelized
  • large tomatoes, sliced

In a medium bowl, place goat or lamb with garlic, oregano, salt and pepper. Mix quickly with a spoon so that your hands do not warm the meat. Pat into 4 burgers.

Grill to caramelize on the outside, leaving a tender juicy interior.

On individual plates, add a mound of fresh greens. Layer with thick tomato slices and then caramelized onions. Place the hot burger on top. Add a blanket of raita and sprinkle with more orgegano. Serve additional raita on the side.

Cucumber Yogurt Sauce (Raita)

I had a great crop  of Asian style cucumbers this season. The seeds were so small, I never had to remove them.

  • 2 medium cloves garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 medium cucumber
  • 1 cup very thick plain Greek-style yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh dill
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • fresh oregano for sprinkling on the top

Peel garlic and chop coarsely. Sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt and mash into puree with blade of knife held sideways. Add to a medium bowl.

Remove ends from cucumber and peel. Cut in half lengthwise; scrape out and discard seeds. Coarsely grate cucumber flesh or mince finely with knife.

Working over another bowl or sink, squeeze grated or chopped cucumber firmly to extract as much juice as possible; discard juice and add squeezed flesh to bowl with garlic. Add yogurt, lemon juice, olive oil, dill and pepper, stirring together well.

Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours for flavors to blend. Add more salt if needed. Serve as dip with pita bread and fresh vegetables or as sauce for grilled lamb, chicken, beef or vegetables.


Green Bean and Nectarine Salad with Spicy Gomasio 

Choc & featured an impressive salad which had a “green” element and a “sweet” element, to create a more complete balance of flavor with “nutty” and “savory” notes. This selection is given in the author's voice. I made a few changes like using fresh farm market green beans and a mix of light and dark sesame seeds.

 I decided to throw together a batch of homemade gomasio — a Japanese condiment of toasted sesame ground with sea salt — to which I added ground chipotle pepper for an extra kick. It is very easy to make at home and incomparably more flavorful than anything you can buy at the store.

Serves 4

  • (1 pound) slim green beans, fresh or frozen, trimmed; use French-style haricots verts if possible, but longer or thicker beans can be substituted, sliced into shorter sections as needed
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 3 medium ripe nectarines, about 5 ounces each, cut into slices
  • Homemade Spicy Gomasio (see recipe below) or store-bought gomasio, to taste

Set up a steamer and steam the beans until as al dente you like. I like them tender rather than squishy-firm, and it takes 8 minutes for slim haricots verts.

Plunge in an ice bath immediately --  to preserve the consistency you've set your heart on, and prevent overcooking which would make the nice green color fade. Drain as soon as the beans are cold;  Spread out on a kitchen towel to dry thoroughly.

In a serving bowl, combine the olive oil, lemon juice, and salt. Add the beans, sprinkle generously with gomasio (though not the full recipe!), and toss to coat. Taste and adjust the seasoning.

Fold the nectarine slices in gently, and serve.

Spicy Gomasio

  • 1/3 cup raw untoasted whole unhulled sesame seeds
  • 2 teaspoons ground chili pepper (I used freshly ground chipotle)
  • 2 teaspoons fine sea salt

Put the sesame seeds in a dry skillet over medium-low heat and toast until the seeds begin to dance and become fragrant, shaking the pan regularly for even toasting.


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