Recipe: Taste of Italy turkey burger

The Italian burger
The Italian burger. Recipe
(Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)

“There is no better turkey burger than my flavor-packed, juicy, Taste of Italy Turkey Burger. It brings together all of the flavors that we love in Italian cooking and packs it into a burger. Then it’s surrounded with even more great tastes from the heart and soul of Mediterranean cooking. Basil, oregano, sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, pecorino Romano cheese, among others fill the patty while I surround it with rich, hearty pasta sauce, provolone cheese, mushrooms and kalamata olives. With each bite you think you’re in your favorite Italian restaurant or sitting on a balcony in a villa overlooking the beautiful Mediterranean along the Amalfi coast. Enjoy it with your favorite glass of wine, a little pasta or fresh grilled summer vegetables. Buon appetito!”

— George Levinthal, Goleta, Calif.

Taste of Italy turkey burger

Total time: About 1 hour


Servings: 6

Note: From George Levinthal of Goleta, Calif. Prepared tomato-basil pasta sauce is generally available at most markets.

Turkey burgers

2 pounds ground turkey, a combination of white and dark meat


1/4 red onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1/2 teaspoon kosher or sea salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1 tablespoon plus 1½ teaspoons chopped fresh basil

1 tablespoon plus 1½ teaspoons chopped fresh oregano

1 egg


1/3 cup tomato-basil pasta sauce

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/4 cup drained and chopped sun-dried tomatoes

3/4 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs

1 1/2 cups grated pecorino Romano cheese, divided

1. In a large bowl, crumble the ground turkey along with the chopped red onion, garlic, salt, pepper, crushed red pepper flakes, basil and oregano.

2. In a medium bowl, beat the egg. Beat in the pasta sauce and olive oil. Pour the sauce mixture over the seasoned turkey and mix to combine.

3. Mix in the sun-dried tomatoes, bread crumbs and one-third cup of the cheese, mixing gently by hand until all the ingredients are thoroughly combined.


4. Divide the mixture and form 6 patties, coating them with the remaining cheese. Set them aside to rest briefly. The patties can be assembled up to one day in advance, covered and refrigerated until ready to grill; remove the burgers from the refrigerator 15 minutes prior to cooking to temper slightly.

Sautéed mushrooms and olives

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 1/2 cups sliced baby portobello mushrooms

1/4 teaspoon kosher or sea salt

1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 cup white wine

1 cup sliced kalamata olives, drained and rinsed

Just before cooking the burgers, heat the oil in a small sauté pan over medium-high heat until hot. Add the mushrooms along with the salt and pepper and sauté until lightly colored, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in the wine and olives, and keep the mixture over low heat until ready to assemble the sandwiches.

Taste of Italy turkey burger

Turkey burgers

6 slices provolone cheese

6 focaccia rolls

Sautéed mushrooms and olives

6 slices tomato

1 1/2 cups of tomato-basil pasta sauce, warmed

1. Heat the oven to 200 degrees.

2. Cook the burgers: Because the burgers are delicate, you might want to heat a cast iron grill pan on the grill, or cook them in a large frying pan. Heat the grill or frying pan over medium high heat. Coat the surface with a little spray oil and gently add the patties. Lower the heat to medium and cook the burgers for 4 minutes, careful not to move them until they are ready to turn. Gently and carefully flip the burgers using a spatula and your hand. Cook an additional 4 minutes, and check for doneness; a meat thermometer inserted should read 165 degrees.

3. Reduce the heat to medium-low and top the burgers with cheese. Continue cooking until the cheese melts, an additional 2 to 3 minutes. Gently remove the burgers and set aside to rest for a couple of minutes.

4. While the cheese is melting, slice the rolls. Place them in the oven to warm for a few minutes.

5. Assemble the burgers: Spoon the sautéed mushrooms and olives over the bottoms of each of the 6 rolls, followed by a slice of tomato. Place a burger on top of each. Divide the pasta sauce among the 6 burgers, spooning one-fourth cup of sauce over each. Cover each burger with a roll top and serve immediately.

Each serving: 996 calories; 63 grams protein; 81 grams carbohydrates; 7 grams fiber; 44 grams fat; 16 grams saturated fat; 180 mg cholesterol; 9 grams sugar; 2,533 mg sodium.