5 Healthy Burger Recipes With A Difference For National Burger Day

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We’re not sure when the burger stopped being a simple stack of bread, meat and cheese and became the world’s trendiest, most Insta-friendly food – but we’re glad it happened. And we don’t think you should have to seek out the best hipster restaurants to enjoy a fine burger. That’s why we sought out some of the world’s best burger chefs to help us assemble the ultimate at-home burgers, each with fresh ingredients, low-fat protein and a healthier bun. Would you like fries with that? (Probably not.)

The California-Style Chicken Burger

Lean chicken burgers make a delicious and mellow backdrop for assorted salad toppings, such as tomato and avocado. And because chicken burgers need to be fully cooked (as opposed to beef, which can be devoured rare), thinner West Coast–style patties are ideal. When you’re grilling, make sure the outside doesn’t dry out before the middle cooks through. Serve layered in two patties, with a ton of fresh ingredients on nutrient-rich wholegrain buns to play up the California health-food feel.

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 680g chicken mince, freshly ground if possible and preferably from thighs
  • 1½tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 3tbsp finely chopped onion
  • 2tbsp olive oil
  • 20g breadcrumbs
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 avocados

Toppings: Thinly sliced cucumber, tomato, iceberg lettuce and alfalfa sprouts

Instructions

In a bowl, mix the chicken, mustard, onion, oil and breadcrumbs with your hands and form into eight patties about 1.5cm thick, slightly indenting the centres. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to firm them up. Just before cooking, generously salt and pepper both sides of each burger. On a hot grill, or a lightly oiled grill pan over medium-high heat, cook until the middles are opaque, about three minutes each side. In a bowl, mash avocados with salt to taste. Smear the avocado purée on both bun halves and layer the patties – two per burger – and vegetable toppings.

The Gourmet Turkey Burger

Store-bought turkey burgers are notoriously dry, but our version adds grilled onion for flavour and texture, tomato for richness and moisture, and a double shot of umami with soy and Worcestershire sauces. Just don’t overcook. “Most people cook turkey way past the point of no return,” says Chris Siversen, chef and owner of Burg in Newark, New Jersey. “If using thigh meat, it stays a little pink naturally, which doesn’t necessarily mean it’s undercooked.”

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 1 large onion, diced and then grilled
  • 680g turkey mince, freshly ground if possible, and preferably from thighs
  • 2tbsp tomato paste or purée
  • 2tsp soy sauce
  • ½tsp Worcestershire sauce

Toppings: Traditional toppings of your choice (such as coleslaw, pictured)

Instructions

Mix the turkey, onion and other ingredients. Form into four 2cm-thick patties, indenting the centres. Refrigerate for 30 minutes to firm them up. Cook until the middles are opaque, about four minutes each side. Serve on a toasted muffin.

The Ultimate Spicy Tuna Burger

Tuna is the ultimate healthy no-brainer: it has a dense, beeflike texture and lots of flavour but a small fraction of the saturated fat, plus it’s high in B vitamins, selenium and omega 3 fatty acids. “Mince the tuna using a knife,” says Rich Vellante, executive chef at the Boston-based Legal Sea Foods restaurant group, where the tuna burger has been a menu favourite for decades. “This consistency enables the seasonings – assertive Asian flavours work particularly well with tuna – to bloom throughout the burger, while preserving the integrity of the fish.”

When buying fresh tuna, ask to sniff it – it should smell like ocean air, not fish or chemicals. We recommend you serve it as they do at Legal, with lettuce, tomato and red pepper mayo, or make a quick aioli by spiking Greek yogurt with minced garlic and lemon or lime juice. Ripping out the centres of fluffy brioche buns axes calories while creating a juicier burger-to-bun ratio.

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 680g fresh tuna, finely chopped
  • 2tbsp soy sauce
  • 1tbsp olive oil
  • 1tbsp Sriracha sauce or other chilli paste
  • 1tbsp honey
  • 2 spring onions, finely chopped

Toppings: Lettuce, red onion, tomato and a creamy sauce

Instructions

Mix all the ingredients with your hands and form into four patties about 2cm thick. Refrigerate for 30 minutes to firm them up. Using a hot grill, or a lightly oiled grill pan over medium-high heat, cook until hot throughout (a touch of pink in the middle is OK), about three minutes each side.

The Meatiest Veggie Burger You’ve Ever Had

With the earthiness of black beans, the sweetness of sautéed vegetables and a textural “pop” courtesy of quinoa – a grain that’s high in protein and contains all nine essential amino acids – all on a classic hamburger bun, this veggie burger is a far cry from those greenish hockey pucks in the frozen aisle. Skip the food processor when prepping. “I’m a big fan of chopping and mixing by hand so you can see the actual, natural ingredients,” says Chloe Coscarelli, co-founder of New York vegan restaurant By Chloe and author of three vegan cookbooks, whose veggie burgers have a fanatical following.

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • Drizzle of olive oil
  • 1½ red onions, finely chopped
  • 75g button mushrooms, chopped
  • 110g grated carrot
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½tsp salt
  • 180g canned black beans, rinsed, patted dry and mashed roughly with a fork
  • 230g cooked quinoa
  • 25g panko breadcrumbs
  • 40g chopped cashews or walnuts
  • 2 egg whites, lightly beaten
  • ½tsp smoked paprika

Toppings: Veggie bacon, cheese and lettuce

Instructions

Heat the oil in a sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add two-thirds of the diced onion and brown. Add the mushrooms, carrot, garlic and salt and cook until well browned, about five minutes. Transfer to a large bowl and allow to cool. Add the remaining ingredients, including the rest of the onion, to the bowl and mix. Form four patties about 1.5cm thick. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat and coat with oil. Cook the patties for about five minutes each side.

RECOMMENDED: How To Make The Vurger Co.’s Veggie Burger

The Prawn And Pork Dim Sum Burger

Who doesn’t love Chinese dumplings? Richard Blais, owner of FLIP Burger Boutique and winner of US TV’s Top Chef All-Stars, brought those flavours into this burger, which merges health with huge flavour using low-calorie, high-protein prawns and relatively lean pork. Tuck your dim sum sliders into Chinese steamed buns (available at Asian groceries) or substitute other light-textured rolls.

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 225g minced pork shoulder
  • 225g prawns, peeled and deveined
  • 1tbsp minced fresh ginger
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 2 spring onions, chopped
  • 1tsp Chinese five-spice powder
  • 1tbsp soy sauce
  • 1tbsp sambal oelek or other chilli paste
  • 2tsp toasted sesame oil
  • Drizzle of olive oil

Toppings: Kecap manis (a sweet Indonesian soy sauce), chopped spring onions and coriander, cucumber shavings

Instructions

Feed the prawns through a meat grinder, or pulse in a food processor until coarsely ground, remove and mix well with the pork in a large bowl. In the food processor (or by hand), mince the ginger, garlic and onions almost to a paste. Mix into the pork mixture with the five-spice powder, soy sauce, sambal oelek and sesame oil. Form four small patties, no more than 1.5cm thick. Heat a large nonstick skillet or griddle over medium-high heat and coat with olive oil. Cook the patties until the middles are opaque and outsides are browned, about four minutes each side.