A couple of years ago I went through a phase of recipe contest mania. With each new contest – as with every school fundraiser basket raffle or impulse lottery ticket – I was convinced that THIS ONE I was SURE to win, and I would start daydreaming about what I would do with my prize. Alas, no prizes. I did get close twice, however: once as a national semi-finalist for the Haagen-Dazs “Next Flavor” search (with Ginger Cashew Crunch) and once as a semi-finalist for some obscure Food Network show (with this Turkey Burger recipe). I’m happy to report that I have moved past the contest craze – though I admit I am still a tiny bit tempted by the million-dollar Pillsbury Bake-Off.
Turkey burgers are low in fat and a great option for a quick, healthful meal. However, they tend to be plagued by two maladies: dryness and blandness. With this recipe, both issues go away. (Unless you really overcook the burgers, which is easy to do since we’re all salmonella-spooked and feel compelled to char all poultry.) Here moistness is achieved by lightly mixing the raw onions and mozzarella cheese into the turkey meat; this, combined with the direct/indirect method of cooking (covered pan), creates little pockets of juiciness in the burgers. The flavor boost comes via the cumin, pickled jalapeños and zingy cilantro sauce.
If the mere mention of cilantro makes you gag, hear me out. I used to be one of you! However, thanks to this cilantro sauce epiphany, I now crave the herb and buy it at least once a week. (I also let it self-seed in the garden, and every spring I get a few weeks of harvest before the May heat waves come.) Cilantro has almost zero calories, yet is a good source of Thiamin, Zinc, Dietary Fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Vitamin K, Riboflavin, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Pantothenic Acid, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium, Copper and Manganese. (Source: USDA) ¡Viva cilantro!
Jalapeño Turkey Burgers with Cilantro Lime Sauce
Serves 4-6 (depending on size of burgers and appetites)
Cilantro Lime Sauce
- 1 small bunch cilantro, washed & dried (roots and thick stems twisted off) (approx. 2 cups packed)
- 1 Tablespoon fresh lime juice
- 1 small clove garlic, pressed or minced
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup reduced fat sour cream or fat-free plain Greek yogurt
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- Few drops agave nectar or honey
Jalapeño Turkey Burgers
- 1 lb ground turkey breast
- ½ C finely chopped red onion
- 1 Tbsp chopped pickled jalapeño (+/- to taste)
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- ½ C grated part-skim mozzarella cheese
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- 1Tbsp olive oil (for pan)
- 6 ciabatta or French rolls, sliced in half and lightly toasted
- 1 ripe Haas avocado, peeled and sliced (optional)
1) Make Cilantro Lime Sauce:
Add all ingredients to food processor, or beaker if using stick (immersion) blender.
Pulse and puree until smooth. (Add a little more olive oil to aid processing, if necessary.) Adjust seasoning to taste (i.e., another pinch of salt or drop of agave/honey).
Refrigerate until ready to assemble burgers. (Note: This sauce is muy versatile; it can also be used as a dip for empanadas, as a unique taco salad dressing, as a cooling drizzle for chili, etc. It will keep for several days in the fridge.)
2) Make Turkey Burgers:
In a large bowl, combine all burger ingredients except olive oil and gently mix together using hands. (Another note: I make 2 burgers without jalapeños for the kids and then mix in the chiles for the remaining patties.)
Divide into 6 equal balls, then shape into patties.
Heat a large cast iron (or other heavy) pan over medium-high heat. Add olive oil until shimmering; then add patties and cook covered for 5 minutes. Flip patties and continue to cook (covered) until done. (approx. 4 minutes more)
3) Assemble Burgers:
Lightly toast rolls. Spread each side of roll with Cilantro Lime Sauce. Top roll with turkey burger and avocado slices (or other garnish of choice).