Summer and fall - and the long weekends in-between - are ideal times to fire up the grill and bring the family together for some outdoor fun.
Burgers, the quintessential barbecue fare, are among America's all-time favorite foods. For variety, top them with unconventional fixings, such as avocado slices, arugula, salsa and fresh basil.
For the best taste and optimum freshness, connoisseurs recommend organic ground beef.
"USDA-certified organic ground beef is made from animals that have not been injected with synthetic hormones or antibiotics, and that eat food free of animal byproducts and grown without pesticides," said Michael Levine, president of Organic Prairie Family of Farms, one of the nation's leading cooperatives of organic farmers and providers of organic meat.
Here are some burger-making tips from Organic Prairie.
* For best flavor, use 85 percent lean ground beef. If you choose leaner meat, add a splash of tomato juice or Worcestershire sauce to increase flavor and moisture.
* Finely mince any garlic, onions or other vegetables that will be mixed into the meat. Larger chunks will make the burger fall apart on the grill.
* Wet clean hands prior to making the patties. The patties should be formed loosely, not packed or pressed, and should be about one-half-inch thick and slightly wider than the bun.
Try this Mediterranean-inspired burger recipe at your next family barbecue.
GREEK GOURMET BURGER
(Makes 6 servings)
1 1/2 pounds Organic Prairie ground beef (thawed)
1 1/2 medium green onion (chopped)
1 cup fresh spinach (chopped)
1/4 cup tomato (chopped)
1/4 cup organic feta cheese
1/4 teaspoon dried dill
1/2 teaspoon basil
1/2 teaspoon sea salt (to taste)
1/2 teaspoon black pepper (ground)
In a large glass bowl, mix all ingredients. Cover and chill for 1 hour to allow flavors to mingle.
Form into 6 patties. Cook over medium-high heat for 6 minutes on each side for medium doneness. Serve over seasonal greens. - NU