My college boyfriend was from Pasadena, and when we were in L.A. on weekends, I would spend time at his house cooking with his mom who was half Lebanese. From Mrs. M., I learned how to make tabbouleh, tzatziki, hummus, work with phyllo dough, make baklava and something called kibbeh nayyah. Kibbeh nayyah is ground, raw lamb, mixed with bulghur and kneaded into almost a paste. It’s served with a drizzle of olive oil and raw chopped onions. There is a cooked version which has a layer of toasted pine nuts in the middle. For obvious reasons, I haven’t eaten beef steak tartare or kibbeh nayyah since the mid 80′s, but I make the cooked kibbeh a lot. Although I usually use ground lamb, it’s pretty hard to come by in a regular grocery store. I’ve told you before I always keep a pound of frozen ground turkey on hand and with it, I can travel to a lot of different countries depending on the spices I use. Last night I felt like a whole Middle Eastern experience, so I decided to combine the 2 versions and make a kibbeh turkey burger. I served it with homemade tabbouleh, tzatziki and hummus inside a pita. I know it sounds daunting to make all 4 items from scratch, so make the burger and tabbouleh and purchase the hummus and tzatziki.The recipe for hummus can be found in the “I’ve Cheated” post.
Middle Eastern Turkey Burger in Pita
1 lb. ground turkey(or lamb)
1/2 cup bulghur wheat,
1/2 cup hot water
1 med. onion, diced
3 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
11/2 tsp. ground allspice
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
a couple of pinches of nutmeg
a pinch of cayenne pepper
1-2 tsp. salt
freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoon olive oil, divided.
Saute the onions in 1 tablespoon olive oil until translucent, but not brown.
Soak the bulghur in the hot water for about 10 min. Squeeze out the excess water.
Combine all ingredients in a bowl, including 1 tablespoon olive oil and mix with your hands, kneading and mixing the meat.
Saute a small portion to test for seasoning. Adjust if necessary
Form into patties and grill, turning once.
Serve inside a pita with onions, lettuce and tzatzki sauce.
Makes about 4 6 oz. burgers or 5 5 oz. burgers
1 cup. Greek yoghurt
1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped
1-2 cloves of garlic
1 tablespoon of lemon juice
A couple of sprigs of mint leaves, chiffonade (One Minute Food Byte video link, how to chiffonade basil)
salt and pepper to taste.
In a bowl, sprinkle the cucumbers with salt to release some of the water. Let them sit for about 20 minutes, then rinse and pat dry with paper towel.
In a food processor, combine all ingredients and pulse several times. I like the sauce a little chunky, but feel free to make it smoother if you desire.
2 bunches of parsley, stems removed. I prefer Italian flat leaf over curly.
A few sprigs of fresh mint
1/2 cup bulghur wheat
1 cup hot water
1 or 2 diced tomatoes
1 cucumber, peeled, sliced in half, seeded and chopped
1 or 2 green onions, sliced
1-2 cloves of garlic
Extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
I don’t mean to be vague with the amounts, but this is really one of those recipes…does it really matter, 1 tomato or 3 ? If you’re not crazy about cucumbers, put in a 1/2. If you love them put in 2! What I want you to think about is how cooking can be more enjoyable for you. Measuring and fretting won’t make it more enjoyable. When I come to your house and eat your tabbouleh, I would imagine it would be different from what I would serve, because you will adjust it to your taste, right?
So, back to the recipe.
Soak the bulghur in the hot water in a separate bowl. Drain after 10 or 20 min. I also don’t worry about this step too much, because by the time I get everything cut up and add the oil and lemon juice it’s pretty much tender.
Wash and remove the stems of the parsley. Don’t worry if you’ve left some on! I’m not going to check! (Well, I could, but there’s that expensive plane ticket again!)
Pulse the parsley and the mint together in a food processor.
Transfer the parsley/mint in a bowl and add the bulghur, tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, garlic and 1/4 cup olive oil and juice of half a lemon. Season with salt and pepper and adjust seasonings, adding more oil, lemon juice, garlic, s&p to your taste.