Feta-Stuffed Turkey Burgers with Pesto and Roasted Peppers

I’ll just say it: turkey burgers can be pretty blah.

Sure, they’re a healthier choice because they’re lower in fat and calories than the traditional ground beef burger.

But doesn’t it still add up to a big waste of calories when the food is boring, bland, and flavorless?

So I’ve got this recipe that changes all that.

First, I stuffed the turkey patties with lots of salty crumbled feta.

Then I added smoky roasted red peppers and a fresh and peppery arugula pesto.

These turkey burgers happen to offer a tasty and savory combo of flavors in every cheesy, nutty, peppery bite.

They are so, so yummy.

My meat-and-potatoes-guy officially loves turkey burgers now, which was no easy feat, let me tell you.

Here, I unlock all the not-so-secret ingredients to making turkey burgers that actually taste amazing.

The first step is to make the roasted red peppers.

This is something that should be prepared at least a couple of hours ahead of time.

I’m not the type of individual to properly plan a meal 24 hours in advance, let alone remembering ahead of time to make a topping for a burger.

But in this case, the extra planning is so worth it.

There is just nothing like the flavor of fresh, homemade roasted red peppers on a burger.

And roasted red peppers are actually very easy to make.

They just require some “inactive” time to really absorb all the delicious garlic and olive oil that’s added to them.

Start by preparing your grill for medium heat and charring a red bell pepper.

After the first side has blackened, rotate the pepper to the next side, and so on.

After about 15 minutes or so, your pepper should be completely charred on all sides.

Now place it in a bowl, cover it, and allow it to sit for about 45 minutes.

When the bell pepper has reached room temperature, peel off the charred outer skin.

The skin should peel away easily if the pepper has had enough time to sit and cool (you can’t rush this process, as I’ve learned).

Once all the char is peeled away, you’ll end up with a tender, vivid red roasted pepper.

Cut it into thin strips.

Place the strips in a bowl and season with salt and pepper.

Mince up a clove of garlic and add it to the bowl.

Then add just a bit of extra virgin olive oil and stir to combine.

Cover and store in the fridge for at least two hours and up to 24 hours.

Amazing flavor that also happens to be very fresh and healthy will soon be yours!

Next up: the arugula pesto.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Place some pine nuts on a parchment-lined baking sheet and toast them in the oven for about 5 minutes.

Watch them carefully so you end up with golden, lightly toasted pine nuts (they burn fast!)

Place some fresh arugula, one clove of garlic, and the toasted pine nuts in a food processor.

Grate some fresh parmesan and add that as well.

Season with salt and pepper and pulse until you end up with a thick paste.

Add some extra virgin olive oil and pulse again until everything is well combined.

Tip: while you’re at it, make extra!  This pesto tastes delicious on pizza or with pasta. (Those recipes TBP (To Be Posted) at a later date.) (Yup, just made up my own acronym. You’re pretty impressed now, right?) (CK (Completely Kidding).)

Next, grab some 95 percent lean ground turkey and divide it into four equally portioned balls.

Season well with salt and pepper.

Press down into the center of each, flattening the bottom and pushing the outer edges up to form a bowl shape.

Toss some crumbled feta cheese into each “bowl.”

I love feta.

It’s salty, it’s mild, and it happens to be a healthier cheese.

(One ounce has 75 calories and four grams of saturated fat, as compared to cheddar at 110 calories and six grams of saturated fat in one ounce.)

So it’s a healthy choice for a burger topping.

And stuffing the burgers with feta add tons of flavor to each bite.

Fold the sides of the patties up and over the cheese until the feta is completely sealed in the center.

Next, grab some whole wheat burger buns.

The secret to making these turkey burgers taste so flavorful is to season every last thing, including the bread!

So brush on just a bit of extra virgin olive oil.

And add just a bit of salt and pepper.

Last, sprinkle on some garlic powder.

Next, prepare the grill for medium heat.

Place the turkey burgers on the grill and let them cook, untouched for about 7 minutes.

Be sure not to flip, move, or press down on the burgers during this time. This is the key to a burger that is nicely browned on the outside, but still juicy and tender inside.

When the first side is lightly browned, it should easily separate from the grill.

Flip, and cook the second side for another 7 minutes or so.

When the meat is fully cooked through, your burgers are ready to serve. (If you’re unsure, you can use a meat thermometer to check for a temperature of 165 degrees F in the very center of the burgers.)

Place the burger buns on the grill for just a couple of minutes to toast them.

And (finally!) assemble your burgers.

Pile on the fresh arugula pesto and the homemade roasted red pepper strips.

The toppings for this burger are bright, colorful, and full of healthy nutrients.

But the most important thing: they add so much deliciousness.

The pepper, arugula, garlic, and feta flavors all work so perfectly together in this big, hearty, juicy burger.

This is one flavorful and satisfying dish!

Here is the complete recipe:

Feta-Stuffed Turkey Burgers with Arugula Pesto and Roasted Red Peppers

Total Time: 4 hours 
Prep: 25 minutes
Cook: 35 minutes
Inactive: 3 hours

Yield: 4 servings 

Ingredients
1 red bell pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 pound 95% lean ground turkey meat
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
2 ounces arugula
2 tablespoons pine nuts
2 tablespoons parmesan, freshly grated
4 whole wheat buns
1 teaspoon garlic powder
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

 

Directions

For the Roasted Red Peppers:
Place the bell pepper on a grill prepared for medium heat (or place on a baking sheet under the oven broiler). Allow the pepper to blacken and char on all sides, turning every 5 minutes.  When all sides are charred, after about  15-18 minutes, place the pepper in a bowl, cover and allow it to sit on the counter for about 45 minutes.  When the pepper has reached room temperature, peel off the charred and blackened skin.  If the pepper is cool, the skin should easily peel away. After all of the skin is removed, cut the pepper into thin strips.  Place the strips in a bowl and season with salt and pepper.  Add 1 clove of minced garlic and 1 tablespoon of olive oil.  Cover and place in the fridge for at least two hours and up to one day.

 

For the Arugula Pesto:
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

 

Place the pine nuts on a parchment-lined baking sheet.  Toast them in the oven for about 5 minutes, or until the are light golden. Watch carefully – pine nuts burn quickly.  Place the arugula, 1 garlic clove, the toasted pine nuts, and the grated parmesan into a food processor.  Season with salt and pepper and pulse until a thick paste is created.  Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and pulse until well-combined.

 

For the Feta-Stuffed Turkey Burgers:
Prepare the grill for medium heat.

 

Divide the ground turkey meat into four evenly portioned balls.  Season well with salt and pepper.  Flatten each in the center, pushing the outer edges up to form a bowl shape.  Place 2 tablespoons of crumbled feta into each “bowl.”  Fold the edges over the feta, until the cheese is completely sealed into the center.  Place the patties on the grill and allow them to cook, untouched, for about 7 minutes.  Flip the burgers and allow the second side to cook for an additional 7 minutes.

 

Slice the burger buns in half.  Measure a tablespoon of olive oil and spread evenly on each half.  Season with salt and pepper.  Sprinkle garlic powder over each half.  Place on grill (already heated to medium heat for the turkey burgers) and toast until lightly golden.

 

Spread arugula pesto over toasted burger bun tops.  Assemble burgers with feta-stuffed turkey patties and roasted red peppers. Serve.

Comments

  1. says

    Jen, your attention to detail is becoming legendary. I had to laugh at your photos of the pine nuts, as the only ones I can buy are ready toasted. Anyway, amazing recipe. I’m a bit of a pesto fiend so I’ll be giving it a go. Btw does the feta melt?

    • says

      The feta does actually melt a bit. I tried to snap a photo of the burgers cut in half – but unfortunately the cooked turkey is the same color as the feta, so the slightly melted feta didn’t show up.

  2. says

    I’ve never made a stuffed burger before, this is brilliant! I’ve been craving feta lately…been putting it on my salads like no body’s business. Love the pesto on there…the roasted bell peppers. Wonderful, lady!

  3. says

    I know these will be awesome just by looking at the ingredient list. Love the flavor profiles! I think I shall have to stuff a whole wheat pita with one of these burger with more arugula for greens. YUM!

  4. says

    These look not only colorful and pretty but very tasty. I ‘ll have to try them. I love turkey but so far have not enjoyed any turkey burgers. Thanks for a different twist to make them more appetizing.
    Joy

  5. says

    Love that pesto of your – turkey isn’t one of my favorite meat, but can eat if somebody invites me – so one of your burgers will go down well. Brilliant photos again that make us hungry … again, even if I just had breakfast.

  6. says

    Our problem is always over-cooking pine nuts! It usually goes something like:
    Me: Checked the pine nuts?
    Him: Yep *checks pine nuts* Nearly done!

    *both of us leap for the griller*

    The burger looks amazing! Now I need to make it vegetarian and we’re good to go :)

    • says

      The pine nuts are a challenge for me still to this day. Especially when I’m taking photos – then I’m almost sure to leave them just a minute too long (that minute where they turn from light golden to black!) :)

  7. says

    How is it possible that you have all of my favorite ingredients in one burger? The turkey and feta is a combo that never dissapoints me, and adding arugula and peppers it just takes it from a regular burger to a decadent meal!

  8. says

    I’m so thrilled I stumbled across your blog, everything you make looks so delicious! And your photography is absolutely stunning, I’m so jealous :P I’d love some pointers on how to get my photos looking better, if you feel like checking out my blog!

  9. says

    Your photos look great and I’m loving your blog too :) My best tips for food photography are: 1) Photoshop is your friend and 2) there is nothing like natural sunlight to bring out detail in your photos!

  10. says

    gorgeous recipe… i love the sounds of arugula pesto.. so it’s a bit spicy. i just made something with arugula yesterday that I”ll be sharing soon. the last time i roasted peppers my damn alarm went off in my building and that’s EMBARRASSING.. so now i resort to bottled jars. it works for the time being. :-)

  11. says

    You have such gorgeous pictures! even though I’m a vegetarian, I love the pesto, roasted peppers and arugula. I could easily submit the turkey burger with a vegetarian one and make this lovely burger!

  12. says

    What a delicious burger! Love that you stuffed it!!!!! these would definitely be a huge hit in this household! Great burger!!!

  13. says

    All the ingredients are on the next shopping list..I should try this next week-end, definitely! And with the barbecue season coming up, this is just what I needed!

  14. Ruth says

    Making this right now… (the pepper is in the oven… can smell it burning..) but really, 2 tablespoons of pine nuts? that’s all it takes to make that big thing of pesto? (this is my first attempt at making pesto.) It seems like the recipe should require more… but I’m going to take your word for it.

  15. Ruth says

    Another easy way to get the roasted skin off a roasted pepper is to throw the peppers into a ziploc bag and seal it. Let them cool until you can touch them, and then the skin peels off easy peasy.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] 16. Feta-Stuffed Turkey Burger with Arugula Pesto This blogger makes an excellent point — turkey burgers can be pretty blah. But thankfully, this version is the opposite of bland with crumbled feta, char-grilled red pepper, and arugula, which adds a little bite. Don’t forget to check out the simple tutorial for charring! [...]

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