We're getting to that point in the summer when the warm days feel numbered and all the summer recipe ideas I never got around to are getting bumped to next year's bucket list. With that being said, the farmer's markets are still in full bloom here in northern Illinois, and sometimes a quick visit is all I need to draw out any trace of summer inspiration left inside me.
Right now is all about the summer squash. Zucchini, yellow squash, yellow zucchini...every vendor's table is exploding with colorful and oddly shaped squash varieties I've never even heard of. Of course, where there's squash, there's most definitely eggplant. Technically speaking, eggplant is a member of the nightshade family (like tomatoes and potatoes), but who would know it the way it's usually thrown in ratatouille or grilled up with other summer squash? Whenever I see these shiny piles of purple beauties, my mind immediately goes to eggplant Parmesan or baba ganoush. I just never know what else to do with it.
Thankfully I can now add one more go-to recipe to my eggplant arsenal. This dish came about as I quickly scanned our fridge one night and saw ground turkey, eggplant, leftover marinara, and hamburger buns. Bingo. I thought by shredding the eggplant and incorporating it into the ground turkey mixture, it would produce a burger with more moisture and flavor. Lucky for me, it worked and was a hit with the family...even the little guy couldn't get enough. It's a great way to add a little variety to the standard turkey burger and an even better way to make it stretch. These have quickly become a weeknight staple around here and make terrific leftovers too.
This week's weather is super hot and humid with temps in the 90s, but I can already smell the apple cider donuts and pumpkin spice lattes in my very near future. Summer, it's been real fun, but I've officially got autumn fever.
Turkey Eggplant Parmesan Burgers
YIeld: 6 burgers (about 1/3 lb. each)
8 oz ball fresh Mozzarella, cut into 6 equal slices
6 hamburger buns
olive oil, for sauteing and brushing
for the burgers:
1 lb. eggplant, peeled and shredded (about 2 cups)
1 lb. ground turkey
1/2 cup Parmesan, shredded
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 handfuls fresh basil, chopped (about 1/4 cup)
1 large egg
1 cup bread crumbs
1 tsp. Kosher salt
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper (optional)
quick marinara (store-bought is also fine):
14 oz can diced (or crushed) tomatoes
handful fresh basil, chopped (or 1 tsp dried basil)
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. Kosher salt
pinch crushed red pepper (optional)
Preheat oven to 400 F.
Combine all ingredients for quick marinara in a small sauce pot. If using diced tomatoes, blend with immersion stick blender (or you can use a blender or food processor to blend the tomatoes before adding them to the sauce pot). Simmer over low heat (with lid) while preparing the burgers.
Combine all ingredients for the burgers in a large bowl and use clean hands to mix thoroughly. Shape into 6 equally sized meatballs (they will be very soft).
Heat a nonstick saute pan over medium high heat. Pour in just enough olive oil to coat bottom of pan. Carefully place the meatballs in the pan (just do a couple at a time to not crowd the pan). Immediately flatten out the meatballs with a spatula to about an inch thick. Brown for about 2 minutes on each side. Be very careful when flipping...burgers will be very soft.
Transfer the seared burgers (still raw in middle) to a baking sheet lined with foil or glass baking dish. Bake in preheated oven for about 10-15 minutes or until cooked all the way through. Internal temp on thermometer should be at least 165 F, and they will be much easier to handle after cooking through.
Switch oven to broil setting and position rack to top level (just under the broiler). Brush insides of buns with olive oil and lay out on baking sheet. Broil for about 45 seconds or until golden brown.
Pour a little marinara over the tops of each cooked burger (still on baking dish), then top with a slice of fresh mozzarella. Broil for a couple minutes or until the cheese has melted to your liking.
Assemble burgers and enjoy.
This is a great way to use up an eggplant that is already getting soft and turning brown on the inside. There is nothing wrong with it... it just isn't as pretty. No one will know the difference when it's cooked into a burger.
When shredding the eggplant, you can use a variety of methods including a box grater or food processor with the shredding attachment. The seeds are okay.
You can certainly try to shape the burgers the way you want them before browning them in the pan...I use the meatball method because they are so soft and much easier to transfer this way without falling apart.