Turkey and Zucchini Mini Burgers

There are hardly enough words to express the joy of a few weeks off between a busy school year and the next work endeavor. While the past year has been rewarding in its own way, making it clear to me that I made the right decision when I was deciding which school to attend, there is still a lot to be said for the rewards of a day spent simply. It’s the difference between sitting on the couch with a textbook versus a best seller, with a much-needed late evening coffee to power through a study session versus a beer just because, with cheap Chinese food from the hole-in-the-wall by the subway stop versus a seasonally-inspired home-cooked meal.

Flowers

While I spent the first bit of my brief break relaxing on the beaches and mini golf courses of Delaware, I have returned with a small but sufficient farmer’s market load (do you see those flowers?), dusted off my cookbooks, and restocked the pantry for a few days of quality cooking before my upcoming internship becomes all-consuming. And after a delicious but not nutritious very long weekend of meals out, daily ice cream, and more than daily beer, I am going to be going the healthy route for these next few posts.

Turkey Zucchini Burger

But change works best when it is implemented gradually. So, today, I bring you turkey and zucchini mini burgers. They’re as satisfying as a traditional burger (though they taste nothing like it), pack a nice melange of green vegetables and herbs, and go great with a yogurt-based sauce and some salad. They’re even great at room temperature, making them a solid cook-ahead meal to enjoy with your lunch, at, say, a new summer internship.

Turkey and Zucchini Mini Burgers

Adapted from Jerusalem: A Cookbook

Makes about 18 mini burgers

1 1/4 pound ground turkey (preferably from the thigh)

1 medium zucchini, coarsely grated

3 green onions, finely sliced

1 egg

2 tablespoons chopped mint

2 1/2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 cup sunflower or vegetable oil, approximately

Sumac Sauce

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil.

Place all the ingredients except for the oil in a large bowl and use your hands to mix together. Use your hands to form about 15-20 small burger patties.

Ready for Mixing

Heat the oil (it should be enough to coat the pan with about 1/8 of an inch of oil) over medium-high heat on a frying pan. Cook the burgers until they are seared on each side, but do not worry about cooking them through. This should take about 5 minutes per side.

That Turkey Zucchini Base

Place the burgers on the baking sheet and cook in the oven for about 8 minutes, until they are cooked through.

Serve with pita, a Mediterranean salad, and a sumac sauce (made by throwing together your favorite proportions of greek yogurt, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt, pepper, and sumac).

Turkey  Zucchini Burgers

Turkey and Vegetable Burgers

Cooking for one can be a challenging ordeal, one that leads to microwave meals, days on end of eating the same thing, or more ordering out than you can afford. I’d rather not share how many times I have ended up ordering Baluchi’s just so I wouldn’t have to eat stir-fried tofu for the fourth day in a row. Not that there’s anything wrong with stir-fried tofu–it can definitely hold it’s own for two or three meals in a row. But four in a row is a stretch for any dish–though perhaps if it contained bacon or chocolate?

Bursting at the Seams with Deliciousness

While I work on concocting such a decadent dish to satisfy the hunger pangs of the solo-eater, I will leave you with this recipe for turkey and vegetable burgers. It is perfect for people who want only to feed one, because while it does make quite a few servings, they can easily be frozen, allowing you to prepare as many as you want whenever you want them. And unlike most frozen dishes, this one does not lose flavor as it sits in your freezer waiting for you–it’s as juicy and sweet the day you make it as it is a month later. Not to mention, it is much healthier than a dinner combo from the local Indian restaurant. Heck, you could probably even grill up two.

The Vegetables

Turkey and Vegetable Burgers

Adapted from The New York Times

1 1/4 pounds lean ground turkey

salt and pepper to taste

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 cup diced onion

1/2 cup diced red bell pepper

3/4 cup grated carrot

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/3 cup parsley, finely diced

1 1/2 tablespoons barbecue sauce

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

about 1/4 cup canola or vegetable oil

ParsleyPlace the ground turkey in a large bowl and salt and pepper to taste.

To prepare the vegetables, heat the olive oil on a skillet on medium heat. Place the onion on the frying pan and cook for 3 minutes. Add the red pepper and big pinch of salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes. Finally add the garlic and carrot, and cook, stirring often, for about 5 minutes, until the carrots have softened.

Patties for Freezing

Place the vegetables, parsley, and barbecue and Worcestershire sauces in the large bowl of ground turkey and use your hands to mix everything together. Using your hands, form 6-9 patties. You can either cook them right away, save them uncooked in the fridge for up to 3 days, or keep them frozen for months and defrost as you need them.

Heat the vegetable or canola oil on a frying pan over medium-high heat. Cook the patties for about 4 minutes on each side, or until cooked throughout.

Grilled Burger Perfection

Serve on whole wheat hamburger buns or mini-pitas. These are great served with barbecue sauce and sliced avocado. If you are feeling extra fancy, you can fry some onions and mushrooms to top it all off.

Chili Fit for a Puppy Bowl

Okay, so maybe that doesn’t sound particularly appetizing. I suppose puppies are not the most picky chili connoisseurs. But this chili is fit for the best of the best puppies–the Puppy Bowl MVP’s. Don’t fret, there’s no cocoa powder in this recipe.

All Topped Out

It’s only a matter of hours until the winner of the show is announced. Who will it be? Aurora seems to be an early favorite, but my vote is for Sally, the basset hound/dachshund mix, duh.

Tomatoey Juices

Oh and this chili is also great for humans, whether they be watching the Puppy Bowl, or that other thing that’s on today (I was raised by immigrants and cannot be held liable for being ignorant about your so-called football). I, personally, would rather be watching this than this.

Many a Man's Cooking Secret

Turkey Chili

Adapted from Jimmy Fallon

Makes 8 servings

2 tablespoons olive oil

3 1/2 pounds ground turkey (I like using 93 percent lean turkey for this recipe.)

1 large white onion, chopped

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 dried chipotles, chopped/crumbled

1/4 cup chili powder

1 tablespoon dried oregano

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon (it should be heaping) ground cayenne pepper

1/4 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

2 28 ounce cans whole peeled tomatoes, chopped coarsely with juices

1/3 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

1 12 ounce bottle of amber or brown beer

2 15 ounce cans of kidney beans, rinsed and drained

tortilla chips, for serving

shredded cheddar cheese, for serving

sour cream, for serving

lime wedges, for serving

avocado, for serving

Turkey Chili Mniam Mniam

In a large skillet coated with some of the olive oil, working in batches, cook the turkey until it is no longer pink. Drain of excess fat in a colander, and place turkey in slow cooker.

Lean Mean Turkey

Remove excess fat from pan, and put remaining olive oil on pan. Cook onion, garlic, and chipotles on pan until translucent. This should take about 5 minutes. Put cooked onion mixture into slow cooker.

Translucent and Tasty

Add all spices, tomato, cilantro, and beer to slow cooker. Stir very well to distribute spices. Cover, and cook on high for 5 hours, stirring occasionally.

Ready for Slow Cooking

Add kidney beans, and continue to cook for 30 to 45 minutes, uncovered, until chili has thickened.

Ready for Chip Scooping

Serve with tortilla chips, cheddar cheese, sour cream, and lime, or whatever your favorite chili toppings may be.