Tuscan Chicken Burgers

It may not seem like it, depending on the weather where you are, but grill season is allegedly here. I for one have been itchy to fire up our grill, seizing the opportunity when it’s remotely sunny and warm, only to find that by the time we actually light the coals, the wind has picked up, the grey clouds have amassed, and a drizzle starts to fall. But such is Seattle– if a little rain deterred us from spending time outside, then there’d be a massive outbreak of cabin fever.

If you’re getting into grill season, here’s an idea to add some variety to your burger grilling menu. I took ground chicken, mixed in cannellini beans, capers, and rosemary, then topped off my burgers with an oven roasted tomato relish and some sautéed greens.

The burgers were juicy with a tang of acid from the capers which went nicely with the sweet tomato relish. The greens added a dash of heat, thanks to being cooked in olive oil, garlic, and red pepper flakes. In fact, I’d say that these burgers are a great solution to rainy or cold day cookouts: they cook quickly then channel the sun with their bright flavors. Here’s hoping the sun comes out soon for a long and happy grill season for all!

Chicken Burgers

  • 1 lb ground chicken
  • 1/2 of a 15 oz can of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon small capers
  • 2 medium garlic cloves, minced (about 1 teaspoon)
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
  • 2 tablespoons Montreal steak seasoning

Tomato Relish

  • 4 large Roma tomatoes, quartered
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 small white onion
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 large garlic clove, grated into a paste
  • 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • sugar to taste

Burger Toppings

  • 1 large bunch kale or broccoli rabe, leaves separated from stems, stems discarded, leaves chopped
  • 2 large garlic cloves, smashed
  • olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper
  • 4 hamburger buns

Start by roasting the tomatoes for the relish. Preheat oven to 275 degrees F. On a foil lined baking sheet, mix the tomatoes with 2 tablespoons olive oil, salt, pepper, ground coriander, and fennel seeds. Cook for 2.5-3 hours or until tomatoes are wrinkled around the edges and kind of jammy looking. Remove from oven and allow to cool. While tomatoes roast, add remaining tablespoon of olive oil and butter to a medium skillet and melt over medium low heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally until onion is caramelized, about 30-40 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

In a large bowl, combine ground chicken, cannellini beans, capers, garlic and rosemary. Mix with your hands, being careful not to over mix then shape into 4 equal patties. Season both sides of each patty with the steak seasoning mix. Cook on a well oiled and cleaned grill over medium high heat for about 5-6 minutes per side or until cooked through. Let rest, tented with foil on a plate for at least 5 minutes before serving.

While burgers cook, make the tomato relish and the sautéed greens topping. For the relish, combine the roasted tomatoes, onions, garlic, balsamic vinegar, and basil in a food processor bowl, fitted with a steel blade. Pulse until tomatoes and onions are finely chopped. Adjust seasoning with sugar, salt and pepper to taste. For the greens, heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add garlic and red pepper flakes, letting the garlic perfume the oil, toasting the smashed cloves until golden brown on both sides, about 2-3 minutes per side. Discard garlic then add chopped greens and saute until wilted, about 5-6 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

To assemble: place chicken patty on bun, top with tomato relish and a small pile of sautéed greens before topping with other bun half and serve.

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Asian Style Turkey Burgers

Back in May, John and I made a trip back to Cleveland. We lived there together for two years while he finished medical school. We had an amazing time visiting good friends, seeing how our old neighborhood has changed, and devouring delicious new finds in Cleveland’s always amazing dining scene. One of our favorite discoveries was Happy Dog. When we lived there, Happy Dog was a concert venue with a huge bar but lacking a liquor license, but now it’s got liquor license intact and sells hot dogs with a toppings list a mile long.

We’re talking everything from grape jelly to kimchi. I perused the menu trying not to drool too much before finally settling on a combination of black truffle honey mustard, caramelized onions, and garlicky escarole with a side of tater tots with saffron aioli. Never have I been so deliriously happy with a hot dog… well, okay, there’s one other hot dog place that makes me that happy. I soon grew sad that we didn’t live in Cleveland because there were still so many other toppings I wanted to try. My full stomach said no, but my heart kept wanting me to order one more dog so I could try another topping– their coca cola baby bok choy stir fry.

Alas, John forced me to listen to reason and we walked away before I could order a second dog, but I thought about the idea of baby bok choy as a topping for a sandwich when I looked at yet another giant bag of the vegetable from our CSA. With ground turkey on sale from our grocery delivery service, I thought why not make turkey burgers with some garlicky, wilted baby bok choy?

Our CSA share also included a bunch of cilantro and when I see cilantro and bok choy together, my taste buds automatically start anticipating the flavors of hoisin sauce and the crunch of water chestnuts– it must be something embedded deep in my memory from childhood. So I added soy sauce and hoisin sauce to the ground turkey for flavor then chopped up some water chestnuts, a bit of the baby bok choy, and some cilantro and chives to ensure that these burgers had plenty of elements to add texture as well as moisture since lean turkey has little fat in the first place to keep the burgers moist after cooking. I then chopped up the rest of the baby bok choy and cooked it with plenty of garlic while the burgers were on the grill, topping off the burgers with that stir fry in place of your usual lettuce and tomato burger topping.

Man oh man were these burgers delicious! The hoisin and the garlic add a little bit of spice that paired nicely with the cooling, green flavors of the cilantro, chives, and baby bok choy. The water chestnuts added a pleasing crunch, contrasting with the softness of the turkey meat, reminiscent for me at least of what I enjoy the most when eating dumplings at dim sum. If you’re looking for a way to switch up your burgers for your Labor Day weekend cookout, you should definitely give these a try.

Note: I topped my burgers with a mix of mayo and a pistachio hazelnut cumin nut butter that was purchased at a local outdoor market. The mayo mixture was also great on the grilled sweet potatoes that we had on the side. Realizing that the average pantry is not likely to have this delicious nut butter, you could try mixing some mayo with a bit of garlic, cumin and Asian five spice powder. Alternatively, I bet a mix of ketchup and Sriracha hot sauce would also be amazing on these burgers. That mix is certainly a favorite in this household for grilled french fries.

  • 5 baby bok choy
  • 1.25 lb lean ground turkey breast
  • 3 medium cloves of garlic, minced and divided
  • 8 oz water chestnuts, chopped finely
  • 2 tablespoons fresh chives, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon Tamari soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • toasted sesame oil
  • canola oil
  • Montreal steak seasoning
  • hamburger buns

Finely chop one baby bok choy and place into a large mixing bowl. Add the ground turkey, 1 minced garlic clove (about 1 teaspoon), the chopped water chestnuts, chives, and cilantro. Add the soy sauce, hoisin sauce and 2 teaspoons of toasted sesame oil. Using your hands, mix all of the bowl contents together until just combined then form into four patties. Sprinkle both sides of each patty with steak seasoning.

Grill patties over direct heat on a hot grill, 6-7 minutes per side or until burgers are completely cooked through. While burgers are on the grill, rough chop the remaining baby bok choy and heat 1 tablespoon of canola oil mixed with 1 teaspoon of toasted sesame oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. When oil is rippling, add the chopped baby bok choy and the remaining minced garlic cloves and stir fry until the stalks of the bok choy are tender and the leaves have wilted, about 4-5 minutes. Place patties on buns and top with the stir fry bok choy. Yields 4 burgers.

CSA Count: 4

Baby bok choy, chives, cilantro, garlic

Arugula Pesto & Cambozola Cheese Burgers

These burgers are not only delicious, but they come with a story about faith and willpower. Seattle and the Pacific Northwest are famous for rainy weather. Not many people believe us when we say that the weather here during the summer is ideal, consistently staying in the 70’s during the day, and dropping a mere 10 degrees to the 60’s at night. However, Seattle’s summer weather may still maintain its mythical status to any outsiders who’ve visited here during June as temps have been a little bit cooler, and sadly, the drizzly days have been more frequent than usual. Here’s where the faith and willpower part comes in: planning a meal for the grill has required a lot of faith that the weather will eventually cooperate.

Luckily last week, we had at least four days in a row of gorgeous sunshine. Each afternoon, I’d start to approach my Weber with a desire for a grilled burger, oozing cambozola cheese and piled high with caramelized onions, but then I’d have to hold myself off. I knew my CSA delivery would be coming late in the week and that it would be carrying lots of arugula, green garlic, and chives. When I saw those items on the delivery list, they screamed, “Make us into pesto and slap us on those burgers!” It became a matter of having faith that the sunny weather would hold out so I could make the pesto burgers become a reality. It took sheer willpower to resist the lure of the grill on each of those sunny, warm days.

Hey– I never said this would be an inspirational story, but let’s just say that I was richly rewarded for my patience. I like my burgers cooked on the rarer side, crispy with a crust of slight char on the outside but still soft, tender and juicy on the inside. The cambozola (a rich blend of triple cream soft French cheese with Italian gorgonzola) was buttery and salty, the perfect offset for the pesto that was lively with peppery arugula with some soft heat from the fresh garlic and redolent with nutty crunch from roasted almonds. Yep– it’s good to listen to talking vegetables, er, I mean, to have faith in something.

Note: I like aiming for 1/3 pound burgers, finding 1/4 pounders to be a little skimpy and 1/2 pounders too heavy. So since there’s just the two of us, I usually make three patties from 1 lb of ground beef. Since there’s plenty of pesto here to make at least eight burgers, just increase the ingredients for the hamburger patties, not the pesto. Leftover pesto worked deliciously on top of a pizza crust with pieces of grilled/broiled chicken and a mix of mozzarella and ricotta salata cheese.

Pesto:

  • 1 cup roasted, unsalted almonds
  • 1/2 bunch arugula (about 1 to 1.5 cups)
  • 1 large clove green garlic, roughly chopped and outer skin removed
  • 5-6 fresh chives, quartered
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
  • Juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Burgers:

  • 1 lb grass-fed, 14% fat ground Angus beef
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 tablespoon Montreal steak grill seasoning
  • vegetable oil for brushing the grill
  • potato hamburger buns
  • 2 oz cambozola cheese

Place all pesto ingredients except the olive oil in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Turn on the food processor and slowly pour in olive oil through feed tube until pesto reaches desired consistency. Since this was a spread for burgers, I liked mine on more of a looser paste rather than runny sauce side. Remove to a bowl and set aside.

While your grill heats up, place ground beef in a medium bowl. Add the Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper and mix with your hands until just evenly distributed. Divide and shape into three equal patties. Sprinkle both sides of each patty with the steak seasoning. When grill is hot, soak a paper towel in vegetable oil and quickly brush the grill surface. Grill burgers to your desired degree of doneness (about 3-4 minutes per side for medium rare), topping patties with slices of cheese after the first flip half way through cooking time. Remove to a plate and tent with foil, letting them rest for 5 minutes before serving.

To serve, place burger on bun and top with a generous spoonful of pesto.

CSA Count: 3

Arugula, chives, green garlic

Lamb & Black Bean Burgers

My husband has recently become a devoted follower of Amazon Fresh. I admit to loving it too– after all, I got my grocery shopping listed (but not purchased) before we left for our holiday weekend in Cannon Beach. Ground lamb was on sale, so we added that to the list. I started off dreaming about lamb burgers, maybe with a tzatziki sauce of some kind, but John nixed the sauce idea. Apparently I’ve made falafel a little too often as of late.
I’m not sure where the inspiration to use black beans came from, it mostly came to mind because I had an extra can sitting in the pantry. Sometimes Amazon Fresh only lets you order items at a minimum quantity of 2. This can’s mate was used in my burritos (will probably post that sometime) and I lacked any plans for this can other than probably for another set of burritos. Perhaps I was partially inspired by this favorite recipe for black bean cakes, but I think it was because I thought about the flavor profile that links lamb and black beans together in my mind– the earthy spice of cumin.

These burgers came together nicely: seared in a hot cast iron skillet so it had a nice crust on the outside and the black beans helped the burgers retain moisture while giving a nice, almost al dente bite to mix with the softness of the ground meat. I topped it with my favorite sandwich spread of late: a mixture of mayonnaise, sour cream, whole grain and Dijon mustard with a little bit of chopped chives from the CSA. (Admittedly, the sauce is a modified version of one from Ina Garten.) If I had more patience, I would have put these out on the grill instead of the pan but I couldn’t wait for coals to heat up not that it mattered since we don’t have any charcoal at the moment. My other thought is that I slightly overcooked these– they would have been better on the rarer side (time suggestion below is adjusted accordingly.) Also, John and I are still in disagreement about the condiment: I’d still like to use tzatziki as I think the slight sour of the yogurt and the cool crunch of the cucumber and mint might be a nice contrast to the burger’s spice but John thinks it’d cover up the spice which is what he liked about this. What do you think?


1 lb ground lamb
1 15 oz can black beans, drained
~ 1.5 tbs Montreal Steak Seasoning
Dash of cinnamon
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tsp dried oregano
2 chopped green onions
2 cloves fresh garlic (from the CSA)
2 tbsp mayonnaise
1 tbsp sour cream
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp whole grain mustard
salt & pepper to taste
1 tbsp chopped fresh chives.

Mix together the lamb, beans, spices, green onion and garlic, but be careful not to over mix. Divide into four portions for 4 hefty-ish patties. Heat a cast iron skillet on medium high heat then add 1 tbsp of olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle salt (preferably kosher) and pepper on both sides of your patties so they’ll get that nice crust. Place the patties in the pan and sear for about 4 to 5 minutes on each side or until they reach your desired doneness. Let them rest while you toast your buns. (hehe… buns.) Mix together the ingredients for your sauce (unless you’re like me and the sauce is left over from a little over a week ago when you made sandwiches of some kind) and top your burgers with about a tbsp each. I served mine with some homemade stove top mac n’ cheese (look Mom– cheese and lamb– you don’t like either!) and a fresh salad that John threw together using CSA butter lettuce and arugula from our garden. A nice summer time dinner, especially when paired with some rose sparkling wine which we drank because it’s been sitting in our fridge for a couple of months now.

CSA Count: 2- fresh garlic and chives (but if you count the salad then 4, adding butter lettuce and carrots.)