Is there any time more joyful than tomato season? Red-ripe, fat with juice, tomatoes are the nation’s favorite vegetable, especially the vine-ripened, flavor-happy heirloom types. They come in all colors and sizes, and the ones big enough to blanket a burger include meaty Brandywines, mahogany-colored Black Kris, and the super-sweet beefsteak variety called Striped German. Slice ‘em thick and layer them with burgers between dark rye bread and a smear of garlicky feta butter.
Partially crumble the feta into a medium bowl. Pour milk over the cheese; let stand at room temperature 30-60 minutes (this removes some of the salt).
Use a wooden spoon to beat the softened butter in another bowl until very creamy, 1-2 minutes. Drain off nearly all the milk from the feta. Beat the butter into the cheese. Mash the minced garlic with fork or flat of knife until it forms a paste; beat this into the cheese mixture and keep beating until mixture is as smooth as you like.
Heat coals on outdoor grill. Divide ground beef into four portions and gently form each portion into an oval patty. Grill burgers to desired doneness. Slather the bread slices with feta spread then add burgers and tomatoes to make sandwiches. Sprinkle tomatoes with freshly ground pepper, top with second slice of bread and serve.
Sprinkle some minced fresh dill or basil on the tomatoes, or tuck some arugula leaves into the sandwiches.
Copyright by Terese Allen