I have a friend who asks the same question whenever we go out to dinner: Is there anything I can eat? This friend has zero dietary restrictions. He can eat anything. Unfortunately, he refuses to try anything beyond a (very) limited list of foods.
(Yes, it amuses me that he is always focused on what he can eat, without considering the challenges faced by his GF friends…I’m not the only person he knows who must eat gluten-free.)
He’s a hamburger freak. So am I. The difference is he limits himself to a plain burger with just salt and pepper as seasoning. Nothing else. Not that there’s anything wrong with salt and pepper on a burger. But, really, nature gives us so much more to enjoy with our burgers!
While I do occasionally indulge in gluten-free buns (I like Udi’s), I am most likely to go without when I’m grilling burgers at home (and since it’s so uncommon to find GF buns at a restaurant, I opt for a fork and knife over a lettuce wrap…they tend to get messy). My local grocery store does stock GF bread options, including hamburger and hotdog buns, so if I’m craving the bread, it’s an option. But I find the cravings are less frequent the longer I am gluten-free.
These days, when I look at the burger options on a menu (or in my kitchen), I imagine the way certain flavors come together. Pesto and goat cheese…do they work better on a turkey, ground beef, lamb, or mixed meat burger? Brie and grilled onions? Yes, please. Spinach, arugula, or shredded lettuce as a bed for my burger? My next question becomes: raw or wilted spinach?
Obviously, I have a fondness for unusual toppings…though there are times when the traditional cheeseburger fixings are my kind of comfort food (or, never underestimate the joys of good, old-fashioned American cheese!). I get excited about tapenade, roasted red peppers, watercress, mushrooms, salsa, unusual mustards, stinky cheeses, and pickles. Not all at once, of course.
What I love is taking a food I’ve eaten my whole life and turning it into something new and different.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention topping your burger with a fried egg. I make mine with fresh salsa, melted pepper jack cheese, and sliced avocado. If you’re thinking more of a breakfast theme, then how about a bacon-and-egg burger? Seriously, once you start thinking beyond the bun, burgers become an exercise in creativity.
So tell me how you make your burgers special.