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  • Writer's pictureLeigh

Cheap and Cheerful Dinner: Mediterranean Turkey Burgers

A month or so ago our local newspaper was making fun of ground turkey. Specifically, the paper was complaining that the grocery store meat shelves had been emptied of everything but packages of ground turkey, which, of course, only the non-discriminating might eat. Hmmpf! I like ground turkey! It's good for you, cheap, and easy to make into a variety of tasty dinners! So, I don't get the newspaper's criticism, except that the writer of the newspaper piece apparently is far more into food pretension than I am. Just to counter the anti-turkey press, I decided to come up with a particularly tasty turkey dinner. My efforts yielded some good options like turkey spaghetti and various casseroles. Even better, though, was a simple turkey burger. You'd think a turkey burger might be dry and tasteless, but not this one. It's incredibly moist, full of flavor from a variety of herbs, and low in fat. The moisture comes from chopped fresh spinach as well as the herbs and a bit of yogurt. Sure, you could serve the turkey burger in a bun, but I opted for a barley pilaf with lemon, herbs, cherry tomatoes, and feta cheese. The flavors of the pilaf complement those of the burger and, together, the two make a wonderful, nutritious, tasty dinner. Cheap, cheerful, and delicious! So, if all your store has is some ground turkey...go for it (and be thankful)! It's good!

Mediterranean Turkey Burgers with Barley Pilaf -- Serves 4-6

1 large onion, chopped

4-5 cloves of garlic, chopped

1 cup of parsley, chopped, divided

1/2 cup of mint, chopped

16 ounces of low-fat ground turkey

1 egg

1/4 cup of plain, fat-free yogurt

3/4 teaspoon of salt, divided

1/4 teaspoon of pepper

2-3 handfuls of fresh spinach, roughly chopped (about 1-1 1/2 cups)

3 tablespoons of sun-dried tomatoes, chopped

1/2 cup of seasoned Panko breadcrumbs

2 cups of cooked pearl barley (or substitute orzo, if you'd prefer, but barley is better)

Zest and juice of one large lemon (or about 1/4 cup of juice)

2-3 tablespoons of olive oil

1 cup or so of halved cherry tomatoes (or similar)

1/4 cup of crumbled feta cheese, plus extra to sprinkle

Combine the onion and garlic in a large microwave-safe bowl with a tablespoon of water and microwave them for a few minutes or until the onion softens. Let them cool a few minutes, then place half of the onions/garlic in another large bowl and set it aside. To the remaining onions/garlic, add the ground turkey, half of the parsley, the egg, yogurt, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, pepper, spinach, and sun-dried tomatoes. Mix everything well. Stir in the Panko breadcrumbs until everything is thoroughly combined. Cover and refrigerate the turkey mixture, if you'd like, until dinner time or, if you're ready to use it, form six turkey burgers and place them in a cold, non-stick skillet spritzed with cooking oil. Turn the heat on to medium and let the pan heat up with the burgers in it. Once the pan is hot, partially cover the burgers with a lid and let them cook for 6-7 minutes. Carefully flip them over and let them continue to cook, partially covered (you can reduce the heat a little), for another 6-7 minutes or until their interior temperature registers 165 degrees with a meat thermometer. If the pan seems dry, go ahead and add a tablespoon or two of water to it. Let the turkey burgers sit a few minutes. Top each burger with a few crumbles of feta cheese before serving them with the pilaf. For the pilaf, combine the reserved onion/garlic with the remaining parsley, chopped mint, barley, lemon zest and juice, olive oil, salt, fresh tomatoes, and the 1/4 cup of feta cheese. Mix everything gently until combined.

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