Editor's note: Philadelphia food writers Joy Manning and Tara Mataraza Desmond drop by each week with Meat Lite, which celebrates meat in moderation. Meat Lite was inspired by their book, Almost Meatless.
This weekend, right in the middle of sipping a cold beer and fantasizing about a lamb burger, my pal, chef and author, Robin Asbell, tweeted about the baked falafel burgers she was making. Just like that, the lamb burger in my mind's eye became this week's Meat Lite recipe.
Falafel, of course, is a vegetarian darling for its protein richness, flavor, and texture. Stuffed into a pita, the crispy outside and creamy, spice-infused inside makes for a sandwich that rivals even the heftiest hoagie. As is, falafel is a favorite. But a touch of lamb marbled through the mixture adds a new dimension. Plus, lamb is popular in Middle-Eastern cuisine making it a natural partner for these fellow indigenous ingredients.
Falafel recipes often call for flour or bread crumbs as a binder. Instead, I substituted cooked bulgur wheat (a nod to Robin's book, The New Whole Grains Cookbook for extra flavor, texture, and fiber.
If you're cooking for mixed company, split the mixture to exclude meat from some of it before patting into patties.