Moroccan Turkey Burgers with Orange, Beet, and Red Onion Salsa

Dsc00744 Once a week, usually on Sunday or Monday, it is burger night in our house.  This doesn’t mean that my husband and I draw straws to see who is going to run to the nearest fast food joint for the #6 combo.  Seeing as I am a bit of a health nut, that method wouldn’t really fit into my diet.  I am, however, always trying to come up with meals that are filling enough for my husband, but healthy enough for me at the same time, so that we are not always eating two different things for dinner.  One solution that I have come up with is to do some sort of a variation of a turkey burger for dinner once every week.  This way, he can have one or two burgers, depending on how hungry he is, I can eat mine with or without the bun to lighten it up even more, and, I’ll be honest, our dog Cameron usually gets the 4th one.  I’ll serve them with a big salad or steamed vegetables (he’ll have chips too of course) to round out the meal.

There are a countless number of ways for you to prepare a burger so that it is different from the ones that you have made in the past.  I love to play around with spices and toppings.  Mix together some ginger, garlic, sesame, chopped peanuts, and soy, and you have an Asian-inspired burger.  Combine  the ground turkey with oregano, garlic, basil, and grated Parmesan, top the burger with marinara sauce and melted mozzarella, and you have an Italian meatball burger.  Go ahead and experiment–unless you mix in 2 heaping tablespoons of cayenne pepper, you really can’t go wrong, and you may develop something that becomes a new family favorite.

As I have said in the past, I really enjoy the flavors of Indian, Mediterranean, and Moroccan foods.  This burger recipe uses a spice combination that is often found in Moroccan cuisine, pairing some more potent and hot spices with those that are typically found in sweeter foods (in this case, cinnamon.)  The overall effect is extremely fragrant and delicious.   The colorful salsa adds some sweetness from the beets, tartness from the oranges, and saltiness from the olives, while incorporating a new layer of texture to the sandwich.   Here are a few recipe tips:

  • The salsa can be prepared up to 8 hours ahead of time.  Cover and chill until ready to use.  The patties can also be formed up to 8 hours ahead.  Cover and chill.
  • Instead of ground turkey, try substituting ground lamb, chicken, or lean ground beef.
  • To roast the beets for this recipe, preheat the oven to 425F degrees.  Cut the ends off of the beets and tightly wrap them in foil.  Roast for 40-45 minutes, or until a knife inserted into them meets little resistance.  Let rest until cool enough to handle, and them remove the skin by running under cold water and rubbing (as if you are shelling a hard boiled egg.)
  • For the hamburger buns, try finding some good cracked-wheat bakery buns or square ciabatta rolls.   These are usually a bit larger and denser and can handle fillings like the beet salsa a bit better.

Moroccan Turkey Burgers with Orange, Beet, and Red Onion Salsa

Makes 4



2 tablespoons olive oilDsc00737

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 tablespoon honey

2 beets, roasted, peeled, and cut into 1/3 inch cubes

1 large orange, peel and pith cut away, flesh cut into 1/3 inch cubes

1 cup chopped red onion

1/4 cup chopped pitted green olives


1 large shallot, minced

2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

1 jalapeno chile, seeded and minced

1 large garlic clove, minced

1 1/4 teaspoons salt

3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon  ground cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 1/2 pounds ground turkey

4 large hamburger buns, split horizontally

Sliced lettuce

Prepare the salsa: Whisk the first 3 ingredients together in a medium bowl to blend.  Mix in the next 4 ingredients.  Season to taste with salt and pepper and cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

Prepare burgers:  Stir shallot, cilantro, jalapeno, garlic, salt, pepper, paprika, cumin, cinnamon, and cayenne in a large bowl to blend.  Add the ground turkey and mix well to combine.  Shape the mixture into four 1/2 inch thick patties and arrange them on a small baking sheet lined with foil.

Spray a non-stick grill pan with cooking spray and heat to medium-high.  Grill the hamburger buns, cut sides down, until golden, about 2 minutes; transfer to a work surface.  Place the lettuce and large spoonfuls of the salsa on each bun bottom.  Grill the burgers until slightly charred and cooked to desired doneness, 5-6 minutes per side for medium-rare.  Place one burger on each bun, top with bun top, and serve with remaining salsa.

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