Creating recipes isn't a pastime—it's a passion. And a lot of fun.

The rules are few: Use 99% fresh ingredients (or thereabouts); make the dish simple but flavorful; make the dish flavorful but simple; be creative, not silly.

With this blog, I want to share new recipes, along with tips on ingredients and preparation, and, hopefully, show new cooks (and non-cooks) the pleasure in setting the table with a delicious homemade meal. The Briny Lemon is about fresh, simple, flavorful ingredients and easy cooking methods that help you bring the best to your family table. Your comments are welcome!

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Armenian-Beef Lettuce Wraps with Lemon-Garlic Oil

Aromatic spices are the hallmark of Armenian beef recipes—or Armenian cuisine in general. And the taste is as wonderful as the scent. Meat and spice mixtures are common on pizza-style flatbreads and wraps, and olive oil, feta cheese, and nuts (especially pistachios) play a significant role in delicious Armenian cooking.

Here, I lightened it up a bit by using simple Boston lettuce leaves to wrap the ground beef mixture, including chopped fresh cucumber, cheese, and nuts. Whatever wrap you use, this is key: Give the beef, spices, and herbs time to chill out and develop their great flavors—at least four hours, and overnight, even better.

A simple garlic and lemon infused oil makes a light but flavorful drizzle to finish the wraps.

Serves 4

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped, divided
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 1-inch strips lemon zest
  • 1/2 cup small-diced, peeled, seedless cucumber
  • 1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped unsalted pistachios
  • 8 large Boston (or other cup-like) lettuce leaves
Pistachios, Feta, and Cucumber 
Boston Lettuce Leaves
  1. Combine the ground beef, 1/2 the chopped garlic, and next 7 ingredients (through paprika) in a bowl and season with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours (or overnight).
Meat Mixture Ready to Combine 
Meat Mixture Ready to Chill

  1. Bring the olive oil, lemon zest, and remaining chopped garlic to a simmer in a small saucepan. Remove from the heat, cover, and let stand 1 hour. Transfer to a serving bowl.

Oil, Garlic, and Lemon Zest
  1. Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add the beef mixture. Cook, crumbling the meat, until just cooked through, 9-10 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and let cool 10 minutes.
  2. Add the cucumber, feta, and pistachios to the bowl and toss with the beef mixture.
Beef Mixture Beginning to Cook
Cooked Beef Mixture
Ready to Serve
Serve the beef with the lettuce leaves and lemon-garlic oil alongside.

Armenian-Beef Lettuce Wraps with Lemon-Garlic Oil

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