Turkey Bolognese Burgers

It’s hard to believe that in just 10 days I’ll have graduated college. I’m going to move back home, start a dietetic internship to become a Registered Dietitian – it’s not nearly as frightening as actually stepping out into the workforce (stay tuned in about 1 year when I reach that point), but it is definitely new for me. All of the habits I’ve gotten into living on my own, cooking for myself – these are all about to be challenged as I learn to adjust once again to the rules of living under my parents’ roof.

One food habit that I picked up while in college was eating more ground turkey breast. It’s relatively inexpensive, pretty darn healthy, and much easier to track down than grass-fed beef (at least around these parts). My family eats it occasionally, sure, but I think I might actually miss my turkey burgers and casseroles that may not be weekly staples, but are definitely on the menu a few times a month.

Of course, I don’t just pack down the turkey meat from the package into patties and cook them just like that, so I’m always on the lookout for tasty ways to flavor the turkey to make a truly interesting burger. I think I got really lucky with these turkey Bolognese burgers, because they’re by far some of the best I’ve had. A lot of times, it’s the burger toppings that enthrall me, and they distract me from the essence of the burger – the turkey. And although the sauce poured over these burgers is truly fantastic and I’m equally looking forward to the tofu-avocado sauce I’m going to pour over them again tonight, the burger itself is also cooked to absolute perfection. No dry meat here, folks! I’ve never broiled a turkey burger before but after the success of this recipe, I think I’ll be testing it out with other recipes, too.

Overall, this dish is a keeper: the arugula lends its quintessential bite, the sauce had just a little bit of a spicy kick to it, and the burgers were melt-in-your mouth delicious and full of savory flavor from the mushrooms. I also made it lactose free by using nutritional yeast instead of parmesan cheese and forgoing the cheese on top, and I still found them to be delicious. Cheese certainly can make anything taste better, but when it’s this good on its own – that’s the mark of a truly exceptional recipe. So come on, go make this for you and your family. Maybe swap spinach in for the arugula for the kiddos if they’re not a fan of arugula’s distinct flavor. 

One Year Ago: Spicy Edamame

Turkey Bolognese Burgers with Sauteed Arugula
These turkey burgers will definitely not make you question, “Where’s the beef?” You won’t miss red meat at all once you bite into these savory, complex & perfectly cooked burgers – that’s a promise.

Yield: 5-6 burgers
Prep Time: 20-25 minutes
Cook Time: 20-25 minutes
(printable recipe)

The Ingredients
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
8 ounces baby portabella mushrooms, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 ¼ pounds lean ground turkey breast
3 tablespoons egg whites
¼ cup nutritional yeast flakes
1 ¼ cups arrabiata sauce1
8-10 cups arugula
hamburger buns or rolls, for serving (optional)

The Method
Heat the oil in a large skillet, then add the mushrooms, onion, and seasonings. Cook until the vegetables have softened and cooked down, approximately 10 minutes, then set aside to cool slightly.2

Preheat the broiler and line and lightly grease a baking sheet. Combine the turkey, cooked vegetables, egg whites, and nutritional yeast in a medium-large mixing bowl. Form into 5-6 equally sized patties. Arrange the patties on the prepared baking sheet and place under the broil for approximately 20-25 minutes, flipping halfway through.

When the burgers have around 2 minutes left in the broiler, wash the arugula (but don’t dry) and add to the pan you used to sauté the vegetables (you may need to spray lightly with nonstick spray or olive oil). Stir occasionally until the arugula has wilted, then remove from the heat and keep warm until the burgers have finished.

Serve each burger with ¼ cup warm sauce and the arugula.

Source, adapted: Aggie's Kitchen

1I made this sauce while everything else was cooking – I started it alongside the sautéed vegetables and simply kept it warm over low heat towards the end when it was ready and my burgers were still cooking. If you make this ahead of time or use store bought sauce, just be sure to warm it over low heat before serving (maybe 10-15 minutes).
2I did not let my mixture cool (surprise). I also transferred it to the food processor and pureed it – not because I’m trying to hide veggies from myself, but because I didn’t really chop them finely enough and thought they’d be better texturally pureed. I think it may have helped keep the burgers juicy, but having never eaten them with chunks of mushrooms, I can’t say for sure. Go with whatever makes you happy.

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