Tag Archives: basil

thai turkey burgers

13 Feb

Healthy cooking has never been my forte. I am capable of eating a pat of butter with no bread. I’ll lick the mayonnaise spoon. If I fry bacon, I’m saving that precious fat to cook asparagus later.

To me, ground turkey meat is a bizarre health food invention — a tasteless pink goop that cooks up to the texture of styrofoam. The only way I know how to make this paltry poultry bearable is by masking its shortcomings with tons of fresh herbs and fish sauce (umami!).

I can’t figure out where we found this recipe originally, but I believe it was called “Thai Turkey Burgers” due to the combination of basil, cilantro and fish sauce. We ended up adding mint along the way to punch things up further. It’s like a patty version of laab/larb, a Thai dish where ground meat is served in lettuce cups.

I like eating these Thai Turkey Burgers over a bed of quinoa salad, but they’d be equally great on a traditional hamburger bun with all the fixings. Don’t forget the mayo!

thai turkey burgers
the healthiest thing i know how to cook

* 1 lb ground turkey (don’t use super lean or burgers will be too dry)
* 1/2 medium onion, diced very small
* 1/3 cup cilantro, chopped
* 1/3 cup basil, chopped
* 1/3 cup mint, torn
* 2 tablespoons garlic, minced
* 3 tablespoons fish sauce (I like the 3 crabs brand)
* 1 egg, beaten
* Vegetable oil

Place turkey in large mixing bowl; add onions, cilantro, basil, mint, garlic, fish sauce and egg. Mix with your hands until just combined — do not over mix.

Scoop 1/3 cup of turkey mixture and form a ball by passing back and forth lightly in your hands. Set aside and repeat with remainder of mixture. Should make around 10 miniature patties, around 3″ in diameter once flattened.

Heat a skillet over medium heat; add enough vegetable oil to coat bottom of pan. Add meat balls to pan and flatten into patties by pressing lightly with your fingers. Cook for around 4-5 minutes on each side taking care to flip and adjust heat when first side is browned. Cook in batches, if not all fit in your pan at once. Serves 3-4.

walnut pesto, riviera dreams

16 Jul

A couple summers ago, I took a trip to the Cinque Terra in Liguria, Italy. I snapped this photo of Vernazza from the hiking trail that connects these five picturesque coastal towns. The castle tower in the distance was built to watch out for pirates (yaaaargh!). Just below the tower, I enjoyed a fantastic meal of frutti di mare and pesto lasagna at the restaurant with orange awnings.

Memories of that heavenly, melt-in-your-mouth pesto lasagna — infinite layers of handmade pasta, white sauce, cheeses, no tomatoes or meat — came rushing back after reading a recent Bittman article about Pra, Liguria’s famous basil-growing town.

Pesto is pesto, and it’s pretty difficult to botch up a handful of nuts, cheese, basil and oil. On the other hand, if you’ve had truly great pesto made with the best Italian-grown ingredients, you know it can be an utterly transcendent experience in shades of green.

Here in San Francisco, Farina is the hands-down pesto champ, but they don’t do a lasagna! Until my next trip to the Italian Rivera, I will continue to dream of pressing my fork greedily through a piece of fantastic pesto lasagna. In the meantime, I will take the basil California gives me.

walnut pesto
tasty but not like in Liguria… walnuts are a fine alternative to pine nuts when that’s what you’ve got

* 1/2 cup walnut halves
* 2 cups lightly packed basil leaves
* 1 large garlic clove, thinly sliced
* 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
*1 /2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
* Salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat the oven to 350°. Spread the walnuts on a baking sheet and toast for 8 to 10 minutes, until they are fragrant and lightly browned. Let cool completely.

In a food processor, pulse the walnuts with the basil and garlic until the walnuts are finely chopped. With the machine on, add the olive oil in a thin stream and process until the pesto is almost smooth. Add the cheese and pulse until just incorporated. Season with salt and pepper.