Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Mediterranean Turkey Burgers and Spiced Couscous

It was a beautiful Sunday, slightly warmer than its been, clear and sunny. I slept in and then spent a few hours hanging out poolside with a friend who was visiting. HBO had just started re airing season 3 of True Blood and so I was looking forward making dinner and watching it in the evening. Last summer that was Kevin's and my Sunday routine- spend the day outside, cook dinner, watch True Blood. Except this weekend my favorite sous chef was sick. I still enjoy cooking when its just me, but this Sunday made me miss our summer Sundays, I can't wait to for it be consistently nice weather so we can get back into that routine.

I went for a Mediterranean theme with turkey burgers, using whole wheat pitas instead of buns, and a spiced couscous with fennel and roasted red peppers. I'm into fennel big time right now. A few weeks back I did a fennel risotto, and just love the complex flavor that fennel brings to a dish. If you haven't had it before fennel has a mild black licorice/anise flavor, crossed with a little bit of onion, and slightly sweet. I've never had it raw before but apparently you can eat it both ways. Back to dinner... I've made turkey burgers previously using a variety of spice combinations but this is my favorite so far. It's really pretty easy to just add in a few ingredients to your burgers and it makes a huge difference in flavor.

Mediterranean Turkey Burgers
yield: 4 burgers

1 lb lean ground turkey
1 egg white beaten
1/3 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
1/4 cup chopped roasted red pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tsp dill
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp each fresh ground salt & pepper
4 whole wheat pitas

Suggested toppings:
yogurt sauce (see below)
feta cheese
sliced cucumbers
red onion slices

In a large mixing bowl combine turkey, egg and breadcrumbs. Knead with hand until mostly incorporated, then add remaining ingredients and gently mix until thoroughly combined. Form mixture into patties. Pan fry the patties over medium high heat in a large non stick skillet, cooking about 5 minutes each side. Serve in pita with desired toppings.

Yogurt Sauce

1 cup plain Greek yogurt
2 cloves garlic minced
2 teaspoons dill, chopped

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.

Nutrition Information (not including condiments) Serving Size: 1 Burger and 1 Pita. Calories: 382 Fat: 10.4g Sat Fat: 3.0g Cholesterol: 81mg Sodium: 642 mg Carbohydrates: 43.7g Fiber: 5.6g Protein: 31.1g

printable recipe

  I made the patties in oval shapes trying to get them to fit into the pita better. Since I tried to stuff a whole mess of toppings into my pita it ended up ripping. (In general more toppings are better in my world, this applies to burgers, sandwiches, salads, pizzas, omelettes...) I would suggest buying thick pitas or wrapping a whole pita around the burger taco style. Also I had a decent amount of leftover yogurt sauce so I added some shaved and chopped cucumber, and a squeeze of lemon to make a tzatziki style sauce and ate it the next day on the leftover pita bread.

Spiced Israeli Couscous with Fennel & Roasted Red Peppers
adapted from Fine Cooking
yield: 6 servings

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium bulb fennel, trimmed cored and diced (approx 1 1/2 cups)
1/2 tsp ground sea salt
1 medium clove garlic, minced
2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp curry powder
3 roasted red peppers, diced (approx 1 cup)
1 cup low sodium chicken stock
1 cup water
1 cup Israeli couscous (also called pearled couscous)
1/3 tsp dill

Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium high heat. Add the fennel, sprinkle with 1/2 tsp salt and cook, stirring until the fennel starts to brown and soften, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic, and cook stirring constantly for 30 seconds. Add the cumin, chili powder, cinnamon, curry and cook for 30 seconds until fragrant. Add the red peppers chicken stock and water, and bring to a boil. Stir in the couscous and reduce heat to medium. Cook, stirring occasionally for 12 minutes or until liquid is mostly absorbed. Reduce heat to low cover and let sit for 5 minutes. Add dill and additional salt (if needed) fluff with fork and serve immediately.

Nutrition Information: Calories: 156 Fat: 5.2g Saturated Fat 0.6g Cholesterol: 0mg Sodium: 353mg Carbohydrates: 25.6g Fiber: 4g Protein 4.9g

printable recipe

There was lots of leftover couscous so I had some today and the spice flavors seemed to deepen over night and I tasted them a little more, the fennel a little less. Both times it was great though. If you can't find the pearled couscous you can use regular couscous, it cooks faster and thats what the original recipe calls for but I think that the larger texture of the pearled couscous is more suitable for when you're adding veggies etc  because it "holds" the extra ingredients better. I used Near East brand of original pearled couscous and put in the whole box.

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