These fresh, upscale Mediterranean-inspired burgers from BBQ Chef Ted Reader are perfect for entertaining friends and family or for date night at home. Chef has included a recipe for the olive tapenade and the tzatziki but if you want to cut some steps and save time you can substitute store bought instead. Note: the smoke from the grilling plank you use may give your burger a bright red sheen (as the one in our photo).




Special Equipment

Food processor
1 grilling plank, maple, oak, or cedar, soaked in water for minimum of 1 hour


Al Fresco Burgers
1 lb (454 g) ground Ontario Grain Fed Veal
6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
¼ cup (60 mL) chopped fresh parsley
¼ cup (60 mL) chopped fresh oregano
½ cup (125 mL) crumbled feta cheese
1 tbsp (15 mL) potato or corn starch
1 tbsp (15 mL) olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Black Olive Tapenade
1 cup (250 mL) pitted black olives
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 anchovy fillets
1 tbsp (15 mL)   chopped fresh oregano
1 tbsp (15 mL) lemon juice
1 green onion, chopped
2 tbsp (30 mL)   olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 cup (250 mL) Greek style yogurt
2 cloves garlic, minced
6-inch (15 cm) piece cucumber, grated and squeezed of excess moisture
1 tsp (5 mL) lemon juice
1 tbsp (15 mL) chopped fresh parsley
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

4 x 4-inch rounds of Pita or Naan Bread
1 tsp (5 mL) olive oil
4 x 1-inch (2.5 cm) slices of soft creamy goats’ cheese
4 leaves fresh lettuce (iceberg, green leaf, radicchio, arugula, baby spinach)


Al Fresco Burgers
In a large bowl combine the ground veal with garlic, parsley, oregano, feta cheese, potato starch and olive oil. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper

Divide the veal burger mixture into 4 equal parts and form into ball. Gently press to flatten but keeping the burgers at least 2 inches thick. Cover and refrigerate for minimum 1 hour to allow the burgers to rest.

Prepare Black Olive Tapenade
In a food processor place the black olives, garlic, anchovy, oregano, lemon juice, green onion and olive oil. Place lid and pulse to chop olives. Transfer mixture to a bowl and season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Cover and refrigerate until needed.

Prepare the Tzatziki
In a small bowl combine Greek yogurt, garlic, grated cucumber, lemon juice and parsley. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Cover and refrigerate until needed.

Fire up your grill to medium heat 350-450°F (177-230°C).

Remove grilling plank from water and pat dry with paper toweling. Brush topside of plank with a little olive oil, this will help keep the burgers from sticking to the wood. Place burgers onto grilling plank, evenly spaced. Place plank on grill, close lid and plank smoke the burgers for 20 minutes, checking to ensure that your plank does not catch fire. Note if the plank catches fire, reduce heat, spritz plank with a little water to douse the flames. Continue to smoke.

Using a spatula remove the burgers from the plank and place directly onto hot grill to sear and char the burgers for 5 to 8 minutes until burgers are fully cooked (internal 160°F/71°C).

Top each burger with a heaping tablespoon (15 mL) of black olive tapenade and place a sliced of soft goats’ cheese on top and keep warm on the grill.

Toast pita and then smear it with tzatziki and add some lettuce. Top with veal burger, drizzle with olive oil.

Serve immediately.