As if to tease us, the farmer's market starts the first weekend in April. Those early days are the calmest, at least when I go. The morning is still young, so the street is mostly vacant. The few people braving the crisp air are bundled up as if it's winter, and their rewards are emotional at best: this time of year, stands carry little more than baby spinach and jams left over from the previous year's spoils.
Still, it feels right to start the morning off with a stroll through the booths. It's impossibly quiet, as no one is ready to talk; you'd never guess it to be the same market that, weeks later, is too busy to walk through.
At the northern-most part of the market there's a stand that lacks the frills and color of the produce stands (no baskets of early season herbs, no hot-house tomatoes), but there lies the gold: grass fed lamb, any cut you could ask for.
The pickings are slim in April, but the trip is worth it. Farmer's market lamb burgers somehow always taste better, with essence of terroir and the type of juices that only the highest quality of meat can yield. Dress it up with a glass of wine, serve it down with a side of fries--either way is just as rewarding.
Yields: 4 burgers | Total Active Time:
For the burgers:
- 1 pound ground lamb
- 1 teaspoon coconut oil
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- Several cracks of black pepper
- 1 teaspoon onion powder For the Mint Pesto:
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
- 1 2-ounce pack mint
- 2 tablespoons parmesan reggiano cheese, shredded (primal) OR 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast (paleo)
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons olive oil To serve:
- 1 jar roasted red peppers, strained OR 1 red bell pepper (fresh), roasted
- Optional: 4 leaves swiss chard, stems removed, optional
- Optional: 1 sweet potato, cooked and cut into rounds
- Optional: Cheese
- First, prep the pesto: place garlic in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until chopped fine. Add the cheese or nutrition yeast, along with the nuts and pulse until chopped into a course meal. Finally, add the mint, olive oil, and lemon juice and pulse until a paste forms. Set aside.
- Make the burgers: Heat coconut oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Gently shape the ground lamb into 4 burgers. Avoid over pressing or over mixing the meat — leaving it loose yields a juicing, more tender burger. Sprinkle each burger with a bit of Worcestershire sauce. Swirl oil in skillet, and then place burgers into hot pan. Sprinkle top of burgers with half of the onion powder and pepper. Cook for 7 minutes on the first side. Flip burgers, sprinkle with remaining pepper and onion powder, and cook for 3 more minutes. (Adjust time for rare (1 or 2 fewer minutes) or well done (1 or 2 more minutes).
- Serve burgers hot: we wrap our burgers in swiss chard leaves (they serve as a pseudo bun) but slices of cooked sweet potato are delicious too. When in doubt try them both! Finish with a healthy dollop of mint pesto and a single roasted red pepper.