Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Recipe for Ground Turkey and Quinoa Patties with Mint, Cumin, and Yogurt-Tahini Sauce

These Turkey and Quinoa Patties with Yogurt Sauce were amazing!

Before we launch into new ideas for South Beach Friendly Thanksgiving Recipes, I really want to share this recipe I tried a few weeks ago with my nephew Jake.  I'll tell you that honestly the entire time we were making these ground turkey and quinoa patties, we were more than a little skeptical about whether they would turn out to be anything special.  In particular we thought there was going to be far too much quinoa compared to the amount of meat, but we shouldn't have worried.  Once we had the mixture combined and Jake was frying the patties, we sampled one with a little bit of the yogurt sauce on it.  I took one little piece, walked into the office, and when I walked back a minute or two later, Jake had eaten the entire patty.  Yes, we both thought they were amazingly good!

This recipe was adapted from Power Foods, a cookbook with lots of recipes that look interesting to me. I bumped up the seasonings quite a bit and changed the sauce, but the combination of ground turkey and cooked quinoa came from the recipe in that book.  By the way, it's pronounced Keen-Wah if you're not familiar with this wonderfully healthful ingredient.

Cook 1 cup quinoa in 2 cups water until all the water is absorbed.  (Check the package to see if your quinoa needs to be rinsed.)

Mix together the minced garlic, tahini, lemon juice, yogurt, salt, and water to make the yogurt sauce.  (I used the mini-processor bowl of my immersion blender, but you can easily do this by hand.

Put the ground turkey, allspice, cumin, Aleppo pepper, chopped mint, sliced green onions, and sea salt into food processor fitted with a steel blade and process until it's well combined.

Then add the cooked quinoa and process until that's mixed into the meat.

Form the mixture into patties (I put them on foil so they wouldn't stick to the cutting board.)

Heat 1 T of the oil in a heavy frying pan and cook patties until they are firm, slightly crisp, and nicely browned on both sides.  (Yes, we should have done more than four at a time!)

Ground Turkey and Quinoa Patties with Mint, Cumin, and Yogurt-Tahini Sauce
(Makes 10-12 patties; recipe adapted slightly from Power Foods.)

2 cups water
1 cup quinoa
1 lb. lean ground turkey (I use the type with 7% fat)
1/4 tsp. ground allspice
1 tsp. ground cumin
generous pinch of hot pepper flakes (I used Aleppo pepper)
6 T finely chopped fresh mint (more or less to taste, but we loved this with a lot of mint)
3 green onions, sliced and then finely chopped
1 tsp. sea salt
2 T grapeseed or canola oil (more or less, depending on your pan)
lettuce leaves, cucumbers, tomatoes, or pita bread for serving, if desired

Sauce Ingredients:
1 clove minced garlic
1/4 cup tahini
1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice (I use my fresh-frozen lemon juice)
1/4 cup fat free Greek Yogurt
2 T water (or more if you like it thinner)
pinch of salt

Bring the water to boil in a small pan with a tight-fitting lid.  (Check the package to see if your quinoa needs to be rinsed; rinse if needed.)  Stir in quinoa, turn heat down to a simmer, cover and cook 15 minutes, or until all the water has been absorbed.  Stir quinoa with a fork and let it cool for a few minutes.

Put the minced garlic, tahini sauce, lemon juice, yogurt, water, and salt in a bowl and stir together.  (Or use a mini-processor like I did, especially if your tahini is thick.)

In a food processor fitted with a steel blade, process together the ground turkey, allspice, cumin, hot pepper flakes, chopped mint, chopped green onions, and sea salt, pulsing until the mixture is well combined.  (You may have to stop and scrape it off the sides a few times.)

Add the quinoa to the food processor about 1/3 at a time and process until it's mixed into the meat.  (Again I had to scrape it off the sides and turn the mixture over with a rubber scraper to get it all combined.)  With wet hands, form the mixture into patties (I put the on aluminum foil so they wouldn't stick.)

Heat 1 T of oil in a heavy large frying pan and add as many patties as you can fit without crowding.  Cook about 8 minutes per side, or until the patties are firm and lightly browned.  Continue until all the patties are done, adding more oil as needed.

Serve patties hot, with the Yogurt-Tahini Sauce on the side and over a bed of lettuce if desired.  These can also be served inside pita bread, with cucumbers, lettuce, and tomatoes.

South Beach Suggestions: 
Quinoa is a very nutritious and high protein seed that's eaten as a grain, but it's limited to phase 2 and 3 for the South Beach Diet.  These patties would be very nutritious and low-glycemic main dish for those phases.  I'd love this with something like Middle Eastern Tomato Salad or Not-So-Dumb Salad on the side.

More Patties, Meatballs, or Burgers with Ground Turkey:
(Recipes from other blogs not always South Beach Diet friendly; check ingredients.)
Phase One Turkey Meatballs with Romano Cheese and Herbs from Kalyn's Kitchen
Grilled Middle Eastern Turkey Burgers from Kalyn's Kitchen
Grilled Sriracha-Sesame Turkey Meatballs from Kalyn's Kitchen
Turkey Patties with Cilantro and Basil Sauce from My Colombian Recipes
North African Harissa Turkey Meatballs from The Perfect Pantry
Turkey Burger Stuffed with Bacon and Havarti from What We're Eating
(Want even more recipes? I find these recipes from other blogs using Food Blog Search.) counter customizable free hit
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More to Chew On:


  1. Wow, this looks like my kind of flavor combo! I never would have thought to mix ground turkey with quinoa, but I love the idea of that, and of course anything with a tahini sauce works for me. I might just stuff it with some lettuce and tomato in a low-carb pita!

  2. Lydia, I would never have thought of combining cooked quinoa with turkey either, but oh did it ever work. (And the whole time we were combining it in the food processor, Jake and I were saying "That's way too much quinoa!)

  3. What an interesting combination. I love quinoa but would have never imagined combining it with ground turkey. Thanks for sharing, I'm going to have to try this one!

  4. Jenn, we were skeptical, but it was a definite keeper!

  5. Wow, how cool! I don't think I've ever seen quinoa mixed INTO a burger before. I guess it's like using breadcrumbs to bind, but better for you!

  6. I think quinoa is such an underrated ingredient! I love the idea of using it in a burger because I bet it gives it a great texture, plus all that nutrition to boot! Yum!

  7. That looks awesome!! I am so in love with this recipe, thank you so much for sharing it!

  8. I also love the idea of combining quinoa with ground turkey, and the combination of spices seem perfect, not to mention the sauce...

    I absolutely must make this soon!

  9. We made this tonight and LOVED IT! Another winner, Kalyn. Thank you!

  10. Lynne, so glad! Jake and I loved it too.

  11. Am definitely making this. I love quinoa and have a few packets in the pantry. Will try first with chicken mince as that is what is in the freezer. I love yogurt sauce on anything! great idea. Thanks Kalyn!

  12. Mel, I think chicken will be great in this. Hope you enjoy it!

  13. This was fantastic! A lot of flavor, especially with the sauce. I just topped it with sauce, tomatoes and cucumbers - yummy! Thanks so much!

  14. I love the idea of serving it with tomatoes and cucumbers. Glad you enjoyed it.

  15. i'm stoked to try this recipe, but my husband despises cumin. any suggestions for an appropriate substitute?

  16. I have to say that I'm drawing a blank for another spice to use instead of cumin, but anything that he likes that's good with turkey would work. Maybe thyme or fennel?

  17. kalyn, went with garam masala instead of cumin, and was pleased with the aroma of allspice and the surprise of the mint! these are fantastic, and i will enjoy eating them all by myself if my guys decide they don't care for them. i feel so healthy eating quinoa too!

  18. Jenn, so glad you enjoyed them!

  19. I made this for my none health conscious minded family and they loved it! I loved it too, of course :)

  20. Tara, so glad to hear that. We loved it here too!

  21. Made these tonight and had a hunch they'd be really good - but wow, they were even better than I imagined! Thanks for an awesome healthy recipe I'll made making for years to come!

  22. Hi I am about to make these and I have 2 questions.

    1. I would like to bake instead of fry, how long and on what temp would you do them at?

    2. my sauce is a little thin, I added more yogurt and a little more tahini and put it in the fridge. Do you find that it thickens as it sits.


  23. It's hard for me to give recommendations for baking, since I've never done it that way. But just guessing, I would say use a high heat (maybe 425). I would heat the pan in the oven first for 10 minutes or so, so it kind of browns the patties when they hit the hot pan. I don't have a good idea for how long they would take, but I'd turn them so both sides will get brown.

    I think the sauce will thicken a bit when it's chilled.

  24. Thank you so much, I look forward to making more of your recipes.


  25. I would love to make a batch of these and freeze them...have you tried freezing them?

  26. Debbie, I haven't frozen them. I can't say for sure but I'm guessing they would freeze okay when they're raw, then thaw and cook. Let me know if you try it.


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