Middle Eastern Turkey Burgers with Tzatziki Sauce

We probably don’t step out of our culinary comfort zone often enough especially when it comes to international cuisine. That’s not to say we aren’t open to trying new things because we definitely are, but we don’t go out of our way to make it happen. I guess it would be fair to say we’re creatures of habit, we know what we like and tend to go back to it over and over. So, for example, when it comes to take-out we eat a ton of Mexican and Chinese food (and, let’s be honest, the latter probably isn’t all that authentic). Some of the other options I hear people rave about all the time like Thai food and Lebanese? Never had them. Our loss I’m sure.

Middle Eastern Turkey Burgers with Tzatziki Sauce

For whatever reason, we’re better about expanding our horizons with our home cooking. I think I’ve eaten at an Indian restaurant maybe twice in my life, but I’ve cooked Indian dishes in my kitchen a million times (chicken tikka masala being the most popular choice). When I sat down to make our menu a few weeks ago, I stumbled upon these Middle Eastern Turkey Burgers, and although I’d probably never have ordered them at a restaurant, I immediately added them to the following week’s meal plan.

Middle Eastern Turkey Burgers with Tzatziki Sauce

And we absolutely loved them. As I’ve mentioned a hundred times before, we eat a lot of ground turkey and ground turkey burgers so it’s always fun to find a new option. The recipe include both fresh mint and parsley as well as a combination of paprika, cumin, coriander and cayenne so the burgers are full of fresh flavor! There’s a little bit of oil in the mixture as well which ensures they stay moist while cooking. The burgers are topped with homemade tzatziki sauce – it was my first time making it and I couldn’t get enough. It paired perfectly with these burgers! With a salad or some grilled veggies on the side, this is a great summer meal!

Middle Eastern Turkey Burgers with Tzatziki Sauce
burgers from Fine Cooking, sauce adapted from Elly Says Opa

{Note: The tzatziki requires several hours of hands-off time to prepare so work that into your plans. You could probably use Greek yogurt instead of straining regular to save some time, but I haven’t tried it. This recipe makes more tzatziki sauce than you’ll need for the burgers – use the leftover to make Elly’s gyros!}

Tzatziki
16 oz container plain yogurt (avoid nonfat)
1/2 English (hothouse) cucumber, peeled
2 small garlic cloves, finely minced
1/2 teaspoon white wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
extra virgin olive oil

Burgers
2 cloves garlic
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 cup lightly packed chopped fresh mint
1/4 cup lightly packed chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons sweet paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 1/2 lb ground turkey

4 hamburger buns
tomato slices
lettuce

To make the tzatziki: Line a fine-mesh strainer with cheesecloth then add the yogurt. Place over a bowl and strain for several hours to get out as much liquid as possible and thicken the yogurt. Add the yogurt to a medium bowl. Grate the cucumber then wrap in a kitchen towel and squeeze as much liquid as possible from it. Add to the bowl with the yogurt. Stir in the garlic, vinegar, and lemon juice, then season to taste with salt and pepper. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to allow the flavors to meld. Drizzle a little bit of oil over the top before serving.

To make the burgers: mince the garlic cloves, then sprinkle them with the salt and use the flat side of a chef’s knife to mash into a paste. Add to a large bowl along with the mint, parsley, oil, paprika, cumin, coriander, and cayenne. Stir until combined. Add the ground turkey, and use your hands to gently distribute the herb/spice mixture throughout the meat. Divide the mixture into 4 equal pieces and shape each piece into a patty about 1/2 to 3/4-inch thick. Refrigerate the burgers for at least 20 minutes, or up to 4 hours.

Set a grill pan over medium-high heat. Spritz with nonstick cooking spray. When the pan is hot, add the burgers and cook for about 4 minutes per side, or until they are cooked through (an instant-read thermometer should register 165 F).

Top the burgers with the tzatziki, tomatoes and lettuce and serve on buns (toasted, if you want!).

Makes 4 burgers