Ginger-Scallion Turkey Burgers with Spicy Peanut Sauce
When I think about it, each stage of my life can be marked by a specific turkey burger.
I’m weirdly proud of this fact.
In the 90s/early 2000s, my babysitter made super basic, fuss-free turkey burgers for my siblings and me at least once a week. No fillers, no toppings, just ground turkey, salt and pepper. These sound sad, but I was the pickiest eater alive and preferred primarily white/beige foods and ketchup, so a plain patty on a chewy Kaiser roll with half a bottle of Heinz was basically my fantasy meal. On particularly thrilling occasions, there were frozen French fries involved (more beige!), and—if I could choke down some broccoli—maybe a Tofutti Cutie for dessert. Joy of JOYS.
Those were simpler times, and while I now realize that the t-burgers of my youth were 100% on the dry, boring side of the spectrum, I’m still overwhelmed by nostalgia (and pixie cut flashbacks) whenever I think about them. You never forget your first.
Turkey burgers were few and far between during my high school years—they were a rarity in my boarding school’s dining hall—but you better believe I took advantage whenever/wherever they popped up. Those patties were consumed with plenty of cheese, and sometimes bacon, but never, EVER on a bun. Atkins peaked circa 2004, and my middle teens were characterized by a deathly fear of bread. (Sadly, I was not afraid of the frozen yogurt machine or Sour Patch Kids. My understanding of “carbohydrates” was limited.)
Clearly, I had an affinity for turkey burgers from a young age, but my love for them didn’t truly blossom until college, when I stumbled across BGood. This life-changing spot opened midway through my freshman year, and after falling in love with their insanely juicy turkey burgs, I quickly became the “fast casual” restaurant’s number #1 fangirl/customer. No joke. The manager told me so. (He may have said this to placate me after denying my request to mount my picture on the wall, but whatever.) My college experience was pretty much an equal mix of computer lab all-nighters, jungle juice, and turkey burgers. I wouldn’t have had it any other way.
Thinking there must have been a gap in my turkey burger consumption during the Parisian years? Wrong. I picked up carrées de dinde hachée (translation: strange, individually-wrapped turkey pucks) at my local supermarché on the reg. These were eaten on toast with avocado, sautéed onions (to up the fancy), and Cholula smuggled from NYC. In hindsight, those burgers were nasty, but desperate times, etc. No regrets.
And now, after all the basic burgers, bun-less wonders, BGood specials, and pitiful Parisian patties, I’ve entered what is easily my greatest turkey burger stage yet. Marked by an aesthetic rather than a single burger, my post-Parisian picks are distinguished by their dressed up meat, textured toppings, and standout sauces/spreads. This, friends, is the era of the trashed up turkey burger. First came Chipotle Turkey Burgers with Guacamole, then Sweet Potato and Black Bean Turkey Burgers with Sriracha-Lime Crema, and today…Ginger-Scallion Turkey Burgers with Coconut-Peanut Sauce.
If you generally dismiss turkey burgers as dry and bland, I’m banking on these bad boys changing your tune. The patties themselves are flavored with soy sauce, garlic, scallions, fresh ginger and black pepper, giving them epic savory flair with a gentle kick. And instead of diluting the flavor with tasteless breadcrumbs, this recipe uses nutrient-dense quinoa to help bind the burgers and keep them moist (SORRY).
You could eat these delicious patties on their own (and I have), but I strongly recommend following my lead here and serving them on toasted Ezekiel muffins with crunchy cucumber, creamy avocado, a pile of spicy sprouts, and plenty of coconut-peanut sauce.
Dear God, the coconut-peanut sauce.
You know I get down with all kinds of peanut sauces, but this one is my current go-to. It’s got a sweet-savory-spicy thing going on, and the subtle coconut flavor is a somewhat unexpected, yet addictive, twist. (If you’re pissed off at the thought of buying a full can of coconut milk when you only need 3 tablespoons, take it down a notch. You can use the rest in a smoothie or curry later in the week. No biggie.)
The most exciting aspect of these burgers is that they come together crazy fast. I’m talking 25 minutes from start to finish, including the sauce, which can be made up to a couple days in advance and stored in an airtight container in the fridge. The patties also re-heat well, so don’t be afraid of leftovers. Try them with an egg for breakfast, on top of a veggie stir-fry, or chopped up and served over romaine or kale with the peanut sauce for dressing. They’re also great lettuce-wrapped with some sliced bell peppers and carrots.
In short, these turkey burgers are idiot-proof and versatile as shit. Please make them ASAP and report back.
p.s. I know some of you are doing a paleo thing right now (or always), which I respect. To make paleo-friendly burgers, replace the quinoa with 2 tablespoons chia seeds, and let the mixture hang out in the fridge for 20 minutes before forming the patties. Serve the burgers lettuce wrapped or on grain-free buns.
Ginger-Scallion Turkey Burgers with Coconut-Peanut Sauce: (Serves 4)
1 pound 93% lean ground turkey
½ cup cooked quinoa
2 tablespoons finely chopped scallions, light and white green parts only
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon low-sodium soy sauce (or tamari for the GF peeps)
2 cloves garlic, grated or finely minced
1½ teaspoons freshly grated ginger
½ teaspoon fresh ground pepper
2 teaspoons light sesame oil
4 whole grain buns or English muffins (I used Ezekiel muffins)
½ English cucumber, thinly sliced
½ large avocado, thinly sliced
1 cup alfalfa sprouts
For the Coconut-Peanut Sauce:
¼ cup crunchy peanut butter
3 tablespoons light coconut milk (the kind in the can)
1 tablespoon unseasoned rice vinegar
1 tablespoon Sriracha (Feel free to add more if you dig spicy.)
Preparing your Ginger-Scallion Turkey Burgers with Coconut-Peanut Sauce:
-Start by making your peanut sauce. Whisk all the ingredients for the sauce until smooth. Briefly set aside. (Sorry, I forgot to take a pic of the sauce bowl, but I figure you’ll live without it.)
-Place the turkey, cooked quinoa, scallions, soy sauce, garlic, ginger, and fresh ground pepper in a mixing bowl.
-Using your hands (or a fork if you’re squeamish), gently mix until all the ingredients are well combined.
-With damp hands, form the mixture into four patties about 1-inch thick. (They’ll be very soft, but that’s cool.) Gently press your thumb into the center of each patty to keep the burgers from puffing up as they cook.
-Heat the sesame oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add the burgers to the pan, thumbprint side down. Cook for 5-6 minutes per side until cooked through. (If they start to brown too quickly, turn the heat down to medium.)-Toast your buns if you feel like it.
-Time to assemble your burgers! Place each burger on a bun and top with a few slices of cucumber, avocado, and a pile of sprouts. Drizzle generously with peanut sauce, and serve warm.
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