Feta-Stuffed Sliders with Tahini-Yogurt Sauce

Makes 6 to 8 servings as main dish; 12 to 16 as an appetizer

Makes 6 to 8 servings as main dish; 12 to 16 as an appetizer

Yogurt Sauce:

  • 3/4 cup (5 ounces) plain, thick yogurt, preferably Greek-style
  • 2 tablespoons tahini (sesame seed paste), stirred until smooth
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh mint

Sliders:

  • 1 cup bulgur
  • 1/2 cup grated onion
  • 11/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 11/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne
  • 11/2 pounds ground beef, 75 to 85 percent lean
  • 2 ounces feta cheese
  • 2 tablespoons coarsely ground sumac for serving, optional (Sources, page 000)
  • 5 pita breads, cut into quarters for serving

Directions

Make the yogurt sauce by stirring together the yogurt, tahini, garlic, lemon juice, salt, and mint in a small serving bowl until well blended. Thin it with 1 tablespoon cool water to make 1 cup. Taste for lemon juice and salt and set it aside to let the flavors develop until ready to serve. (You can make this up to 1 day ahead and store it in the refrigerator overnight, then let it sit at room temperature for 1 hour before serving.)

To make the sliders, bring a teakettle of water to a boil. Put the bulgur in a large mixing bowl and stir in 1 cup boiling water. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave it to swell and absorb all the water, about 15 minutes. Add the onion, cumin, salt, paprika, and cayenne to the bulgur and stir to combine. Break up the ground beef into the bowl and gently mix with a rubber spatula or your hands to blend it thoroughly.

Preheat the oven to 350°F and lightly grease a baking sheet. Break the feta cheese into marble-sized pieces to have enough for each slider. Use a 1/4-cup measuring cup to portion the ground beef mixture. Dampen your hands and shape the portions into balls, and use your thumb to press the feta into the center. Shape the balls into 3/4-inch patties about 21/2 inches wide and space them on the baking sheet. You’ll have 18 to 20 sliders.

Bake the patties until they are walnut brown, 15 to 17 minutes and remove them with a metal spatula (the bulgur tends to grab a little bit). Alternatively, pan-fry them in 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat or grill them over a preheated medium-hot charcoal or gas grill for 3 to 31/2 minutes per side.

To serve the sliders, sandwich each one inside a pita triangle with a sprinkle of sumac and a spoonful of the reserved yogurt sauce.