Saturday, September 14, 2013

Green burgers are fowl - and very tasty

Photograph ©2013, Lori Korleski Richardson
Turkey Spinach Slider on baguette
The average turkey burger makes most people wonder if perhaps a veggie burger would have been a better choice for healthful eating. Turkey is extremely bland, but when mixed with more flavorful ingredients, it steps into the background and takes on the flavor of the other items in the pot.

I saw this recipe by Sue Li on, but since we were trying to cut out bread from our diet, I didn't try it for a while. What I finally hit upon was serving them not on slider buns or small dinner rolls, but in Boston or butter lettuce cups. They were so good!

Since then, I've made them with the following substitutions: Using half spinach and half chard; using all chard; using chard and arugula; using ground chicken instead of turkey; upping the cumin to 1 teaspoon, and using a shallot instead of scallions; and freezing the raw burgers, then putting them frozen into the pan. I must say, they were all excellent, and I really can't tell you which I liked best.

This recipe says it makes 4 servings, and that's about right with the lettuce cups. But with the bread, my husband and I were filled up with two apiece.

I think the secret is not to overcook them (if you're worried they might not get done enough, make them thinner in the middle when you pat them out or use an instant read thermometer and keep cooking until they reach an interior temperature of 170 degrees).

If you do put them on a bun, or as we did, pieces of horizontally sliced baguette, try the spread that follows. It really kicks it up a notch!

Photograph ©2013, Lori Korleski Richardson
The dozen sliders on a cookie sheet, ready to freeze.
Turkey Spinach Sliders
Makes 4 servings

1/2 bunch flat-leaf spinach, thick stems removed, leaves chopped (about 4 cups)
4 scallions, thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 pound ground turkey
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil (can spray patties lightly if grilling)
12 slider buns or small dinner rolls, split, lightly toasted (for serving)
Your favorite condiments

Combine spinach, scallions, garlic, turkey, and cumin in a medium bowl; season with salt and pepper. Using a fork, mix gently just to combine. Form turkey mixture into 14 1/2"-thick patties.
If grilling, heat grill to very hot, place patties on grill, oiled side down, then turn down to low. Proceed as below.
If cooking on stove, heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Working in two batches, cook patties until golden brown and cooked through (resist the temptation to press down on patties with your spatula while cooking), about 5 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate.

Serve turkey-spinach patties on buns with mayonnaise, onion, and whatever other condiments you prefer. For a gluten-free dish, serve the patties on top of a salad.

Patties can be formed 1 day ahead. Cover and chill. Bring to room temperature before cooking.

Lori's note: Besides the alternatives noted in the post above, I just put the spinach, scallions (or shallot) and garlic in the food processor and chopped everything fine before mixing it all with the turkey and cumin.

Lori K's Fantastic Green Spread
Makes about a cup

1 cup of packed arugula
1 ripe avocado
1/2 lime, juiced
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1 jalapeƱo, stemmed, seeded and quartered (or 2 mild jalapeƱos)
Cooking wine (optional)
Pepper to taste

Mix first five ingredients in food processor; add wine until sauce is smooth. Add pepper to taste. Spread on buns, or on burgers in lettuce cups. Will keep for several days, and it stays a bright green.