You may have noticed around here that Greek flavors and I have a thing going on. Whether it’s pasta salad, shrimp orzo, pizza, classic Greek salad, or more salads I’m a believer that feta, garlic, lemon, and oregano make so many things better. And I even fell more in love with Greece and it’s flavors after our wonderful trip, if you can believe it.
When we visited Greece, we were often served a small beef oval-shaped patty called bifteki (as well as meatballs called keftedes) though they were mainly baked with a sauce. I was given a great recipe for traditional bifteki made with bread crumbs more like a meat loaf, but for this recipe I wanted to create a grilled version that would be firmer to shape and hold up to the grilling. So this is a “Greek style” beef vs. classic bifteki because I’m including classic Greek flavors (oregano, mint, onion, garlic) and adding feta (of course!) with pure beef like a grilled burger.
And wow, did it turn out! Simple to make, fun to eat, full of those flavors I love, this is filling a new spot in our family favorites menu. Oh, and the yogurt-garlic sauce? Um, you do not want to skip that – SO good. Of course, you could add cucumbers and make it more like traditional tzatziki, but unlike other Greek flavors, cucumbers are definitely not my thing. You are welcome to add them, though, only they must be grated – we never saw chopped cucumbers in any tzatziki during our travels.
And this is a 30 minute meal, guys! Mix up the yogurt-garlic sauce first so it has a chance to allow the flavors to develop while you’re making the patties. Then mix up the beef ingredients. I thought I’d share what I do to try and get similar sized patties:
- mix patty ingredients well in a bowl
- flatten mixture in bowl
- use a knife or stiff spatula to evenly separate beef mixture into 8-10 sections, depending on the size you’d like (begin by separating into halves, then quarters and so on)
- use a spatula to remove a section at a time to shape into oval patties
Does this work perfectly? No, some are still bigger than others, but it definitely helps to make sure I don’t end up with a tablespoon of beef mixture left at the end!
Grilling the feta cheese into the beef along with the other seasonings is my favorite part of this recipe. If you don’t have feta, though, you can leave it out and you’ll still have great grilled beef for lettuce wraps- or just to eat.
- Yogurt-Garlic Sauce:
- ¾ c. Greek yogurt
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
- 1 tsp. fresh chopped dill (or ¼ tsp. dried)
- ½ tsp. salt (or to taste)
- ¼ tsp. black pepper
- Beef Lettuce Wraps:
- 1 lb. ground beef
- 1 small onion, grated
- 4 oz. crumbled feta cheese
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 Tb. chopped fresh parsley
- 2 tsp. dried oregano
- 2 tsp. chopped mint
- 1 tsp. kosher salt
- 1 tsp. black pepper
- 8-10 large lettuce leaves for serving
- Prepare sauce by mixing all ingredients in a small bowl, stirring to blend well. Taste to adjust salt and pepper if needed. Set aside.
- Mix beef and remaining ingredients except lettuce leaves in a medium bowl. Press into bowl and use a knife to divide the mixture evenly into 8-10 parts, depending on the size of patties you want (divide mixture in half first, then in half again, and so on to try and make the patties similar sizes).
- Using one of the portions, shape into a small oval patty and set on a plate or tray. Repeat with remaining meat portions. The patties can be made in advance and kept in the refrigerator until needed.
- Heat a grill to medium-high and cook patties until done, about 3-4 minutes each side or until an instant-read thermometer reaches above 150 degrees (or to your desired doneness).
- Place each patty in a lettuce leaf and drizzle with yogurt-garlic sauce. Serve with remaining sauce.*