Above: The classic diet plate, at left, gets a refreshing improvement, at right, with local ingredients.
By Wini Moranville
Anybody remember the “diet plate”? Comprised of a hamburger patty, cottage cheese, lettuce and tomato slices, this was a restaurant mainstay in and around the 1980s. It was low-carb before low-carb was cool.
During the recent stretch of hot weather, I was thinking about how satisfying and refreshing this simple plate actually is: the juicy burger sided with cool cottage cheese and tangy in-season tomatoes.
I decided it was time for a 2017 update, using world-class ingredients you can find locally. The new dish has become a hot-weather favorite:
• Instead of a ground beef patty, use ground lamb: You can generally find this at Whole Foods.
• Instead of cottage cheese, use another fresh cheese: Mt. Vikos Sheep & Goat’s Milk Cheese Feta, also available at Whole Foods. This version of feta is a world apart from the industrial feta mostly found around here. While domestic industrial feta, (generally made from cow’s milk) is often tangy and dry and not much else, Mt. Vikos, imported from Greece, is not only tangy, but also moist, creamy and rich.
• Instead of using sliced trucked-in tomatoes, combine chopped local tomatoes with the feta, some halved Kalamata olives, fresh mint, olive oil, salt and pepper for an enticing topper to the lamb patty.
• Make it all über-local, with radishes, cucumbers and a spare amount of lettuce that you bring home in your next farmers market haul. Toss those veggies in a lemon-mint dressing: Whisk together 3 tablespoons of superior-quality olive oil (I use the San Gimignano extra virgin olive oil from Vom Fass), 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh mint and salt and pepper to taste.
You’ve got it: I’ve transformed the basic components of the classic diet plate into a Greek-style salad with a flavorful lamb patty. It’s a fabulous way to take advantage of the best of summer on a refreshing plate. Enjoy!
Wini Moranville covers food and dining for dsm. Follow her at All Things Food – DSM Wini Moranville.