Caper and Shallot Turkey Burgers with Basil Pesto (gluten free, ACD-friendly)

Happy New Year!  I hope all of you had a fun and safe evening with those you love.  Did you have the chance to look at the full, beautiful moon?  Last night we were graced with a Blue Moon on New Year's Eve, something that happens once every 19 years!  So, I hope you looked; if not, you have a while to wait before the next NYE Blue Moon.

I am feeling incredibly optimistic about 2010.  Why?  Here are six reasons, off the top of my head:

  • I was accepted to the Master's of Oriental Medicine program at the Oregon College of Oriental Medicine.  I found out about two weeks ago, and have been sitting on a cloud ever since.  I'm in, baby!  YES!  I hope to start in August 2010, but I can defer to 2011 if my health or pocketbook just doesn't make it possible to start this year (a very real possibility).
  • I finally feel in control of my health.   I  know I have Lyme Disease (diagnosed in Nov 2009, the week I sent in my grad school application).  I have found incredible doctors, and have started the journey to figure out what we need to do to beat this thing.  I start phasing in antibiotics tomorrow, and by the end of the month, will be on full therapeutic doses of three intense antibiotics, among many other supplements.  This road will be long, but at least now I'm finally on the road.  For the last few years I've felt like I've been walking through the ditch, and had no idea where I was walking to.
  • I am diligently working on two cookbooks, the first of which will be a vegetable recipe E-book.  While I'm keeping the title a secret for now, it will feature plant-based recipes that are gluten-free and allergy-friendly, just like the blog.  Vegetables, vegetables, and more vegetables, every which way.  Exciting!   The second is a more extensive cookbook that will feature a wider range of foods, from soups to desserts.  Who knows when that will be ready...
  • I feel driven to accomplish my goals for personal growth.  Among many things, this involves committing myself to a meditation practice, learning to better honor the needs of my body, and practicing positive self-affirmations.
  • I can't get enough of books right now, and have a big stack just waiting for me to crack them open - 2010 will be a year of reading.  Right now I'm reading two: Dangerous Grains: Why Gluten Cereal Grains May Be Hazardous To Your Health and No Impact Man.  I saw Colin Beavan, the author of No Impact Man, speak last summer at a screening of the documentary of the same name, and knew I had to read the book.  
  • I feel like the economic situation, political situation, and environmental situation is causing people to reevaluate what is really important, and is creating a gradual shift in consciousness.  I think this is long overdue, and I'm excited for where this decade will go.
Oh wait, and of course, how could I forget this one?  Quite possibly, the most important:
  • I have incredible friends, a supportive family, and all of you.

Thinking of all this positive stuff makes me hungry.  So, I'm greeting 2010 with some very tasty turkey burgers, brimming with capers, sauteed shallot, and parsley.  I have been on a major caper kick lately, I just can't get enough of them.  Well, okay, let me expand on that.  I can't get enough capers, olives, anchovies, or olive oil, in and on everything.

 "Anchovies?" you ask?  "Heck, yes!" I reply, vehemently.

Just you wait.  I will have you eating anchovies before you know it.  I have recipes up my sleeve that use them, and I think they just might win you over.  Don't worry though, these burgers don't use 'em.

My current food obsessions lead me to believe that I am yearning to be in the sun-drenched Mediterranean, surrounded by olive trees, dark-haired men with accents, and fresh and flavorful food.   I think this is because I am currently struggling through yet another Minnesota winter, and I am looking for a psychological escape.  When there is a windchill of -19º F outside (no kidding), you need to think about something else in order to not completely lose your mind.  So, I am choosing to think about the Mediterranean.

Conveniently, I was housesitting last week for my foodie friends, and spent much time perusing the many cookbooks on their shelves.  I found myself absolutely awestruck with three of Donna Hay's cookbooks and two cookbooks from London's River Cafe.  Donna Hay is an Australian food editor and cookbook author, and I love her.  I've admired her magazine for years, inspired by the incredible recipes and absolutely stunning photography.  Her cookbooks are stellar, inspired by cuisines from around the world.  The recipes are simple yet elegant, easy to throw together with things in the pantry and an assortment of fresh vegetables.  The River Cafe cookbooks are from London's infamous cafe of the same name, written by chefs Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers.  They specialize in Italian farmhouse cooking, simple and rustic recipes that rely on the freshest, highest quality ingredients.  It is inspired and beautiful cooking.  And while they certainaly use gluten and dairy, many recipes are totally adaptable for those of us with restrictions.  Between Donna Hay and the River Cafe, I found myself living in a pseudo-Meditteranean fantasy world.  There were anchovies, olives, and capers everywhere.  I was in heaven.

Inspired, I decided to throw shallots and capers into my ground turkey this evening.   I went to my freezer to dig out some homemade basil-mint pesto, leftover from my summer pesto-making extravaganzas with my garden herbs.  I think these burgers rock; the capers provide a little salt while the sauteed shallots provide a little sweet, and the pesto provided the perfect garnish.  Are turkey burgers particularly Mediterranean?  No.  But the little twists that make these burgers special - capers, shallots, pesto - certainly are! Served up with a side of delicious roasted vegetables (a recipe I'm working on for my forthcoming vegetable recipe E-book!), this meal was a great way to start the new year.

Here's a little teaser of the latest recipes I've pulled together for the upcoming vegetable recipe cookbook:



Yum!  Here's to a peaceful, productive, and healthy 2010.




It is easy to make burgers too dry - my trick for keeping them moist is to add a small amount of water or broth to the pan and cover, cooking over low heat.  The burgers cook through completely, don't stick to the pan, stay wonderfully moist, and develop a rich flavor.

serves 4

1 lb ground turkey (preferably antibiotic free and free range)
2-3 Tbsp salt-packed capers, rinsed
2-3 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
1/4 cup minced shallots or onion
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp Herbamare or sea salt
freshly cracked pepper
olive oil

basil pesto, for garnish (homemade or store-bought)

Mince shallot and chop parsley.  Heat olive oil in a saute pan over medium-low heat, and add shallot, sauteeing until translucent and tender.  Add parsley, and saute for about 1 minute.  Remove from heat.

Place ground turkey in a large bowl with sauteed shallot and parsley and remaining ingredients, stirring to mix.  Using your hands, divide the turkey mixture into four even parts, then roll into large balls with the palm of your hand.  Flatten the ball into a patty, and place on a plate.

Heat a small amount of olive oil in 12-inch saute pan over medium-low heat, and add turkey burger patties.    Cook for 5-6 minutes, then flip.  Add a few tablespoons of water to the pan, reduce heat to low, and cover.  Cook 6-8 additional minutes, then check on them.  If burgers are still pink in the middle, flip, cover, and cook an additional few minutes.  Burgers are done when juices run clear and inside is no longer pink.  Turn off heat and serve, garnished with a dollop of pesto.