Blog Entries, Entrees, Recipes

Middle Eastern “Sliders” with Sumac Onions

This is a really fun and very healthy “take” on the American slider – a tiny fat and carb heavy cheesburger that many restaurants have.  I’ve adapted this recipe from the cookbook “Orient Express” by Silvena Rowe.  She used veal, I use only grass fed ground beef and made some modifications.

Middle Eastern Sliders

D7K_7716These mini burgers are cooked and placed atop rounds of pita or naan bread. If you’re gluten free, use rounds of GF bread.  Topped with sumac onions, they are a fabulous taste variation on our old hamburger.  Make them healthy by using grass fed beef.  (why?  read why here)  Yes, it is more expensive, but the health benefits are worth it –  you are worth it!


Sumac Onion Topping

1-2 large sweet yellow onions sliced (if very large, use 1 onion)
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 teaspoon ground sumac*

Burger Filling

1 lb. grass fed ground beef (if you aren’t using grass fed, be sure it is lean)
1 egg
1 heaping teaspoon grated fresh ginger (I buy it in the jar, keep it in frig so I can use it whenever I need some)
4 slices banana peppers from jar (little rings) – optional
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and quartered (if you don’t like spicy, just do one)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
¼ cup roasted salted shelled pistachios
fresh cilantro leaves (added at end when you assemble, do NOT add to blender)

Garlic Tahini Sauce

3 T Tahini paste
¼ cup plain yogurt (dairy or non-dairy)
1 clove garlic

I use a magic bullet type blender for this since it is a small amount.  You can double or triple the recipe and make more and use it on salads, gyros, etc.  Just blenderize all three ingredients until mixed and the garlic is pureed.  Done.


Step 1:  Make burger filling

In a food processor or mini-chopper or magic bullet type blender process the ginger, banana peppers, jalapenos, cumin and pistachios until they are finely minced — do not turn them into a paste (although if you screw up, it will still work!)

Add the above to the egg and the ground beef, mix well like meat loaf, let site 30-60 minutes for the flavors to meld.  (You won’t need salt or pepper, the pistachios add salt, and the jalapeno is enough pepper flavor).  You can make this even a day ahead, just refrigerate until an hour before, then bring to room temp.)

Step 2:  Saute Onion Topping

Next saute the onions in a pan with the olive oil until lightly browned (you can cook more if you like them really dark).  Set aside, and stir in the sumac*. Let cool to room temp.

*Sumac is a middle eastern spice that is tangy.  If you don’t have it, add some lemon pepper or lemon rind/juice or a splash of balsamic vinegar.  If you have zaatar, add a bit of that, it has sumac in it.

Step 3:  Make sauce

Combine yogurt, tahini and garlic in blender.  I use a small magic bullet type blender, as the amounts are small.  You can also use a food processor with the metal blade and blast it until smooth.  Set sauce aside in a container you can later put on table for dinner.  You’ll be adding this sauce as you assemble the burgers.

Step 4:  Cook burgers, and make the buns.

Shape into small flat (2½ diameter) burgers, and grill on barbeque for 3 minutes on each side.  This recipe makes 10-14 burgers (approx). depending on the size.

While the burgers are cooking (or before if you’re alone and don’t have a spouse to watch the burgers), cut circles in the pita or naan (I used Indian naan) using a plastic cup as a guide like a cookie cutter.  Grill in a skillet with a coating of olive oil to warm up and brown slightly.  Remove to your serving plate.

Step 5:  Assemble

Bring the cooked burgers in, place a few cilantro leaves on each bun, add a dollop of sauce, then the burgers.  Using your fingers, grab a bit of the cooled onions, place those on top.

Bring the sauce to the table, do NOT put ketchup on these.  BLECH

D7K_7714My husband and I are trying to cut back on carbs.  That is a challenge to make a meal filling, yet low in carbohydrates.   This meal was perfect, and we added fresh tomatoes with basil from our garden (balsamic syrup drizzle) and baby zucchini which my husband grilled with the burgers (they needed longer, so went on first – zucchini/olive oil/salt/pepper).  A fun take on the hamburger!  And oh…. those onions!!!

Until I can write a more lengthy post on Grass fed beef, here’s Why you should eat grass fed beef.


  1. Hi Eileen; these sound great!
    I haven’t had a burger on a bun (or any kind of bread!) in years, but recently found a recipe online for ‘cloud bread’ which is primarily eggs and a dab of cream cheese. Amazingly bun-like and a nice change. You might check them out and try making mini slider buns next time, to further cut carbs. I’m definitely going to buy some Sumac, as that’s a new spice for me; thanks!

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