Mediterranean turkey and zucchini burgers recipe - Pamela Salzman Skip to content

Mediterranean turkey and zucchini burgers recipe

mediterranean turkey and zucchini burgers | pamela salzman

I’m a happy mama since I picked up Mr. Picky from sleepaway camp on Saturday.  13 days is just too long for me to be apart from that guy.  I have been enjoying all the stories, hanging on every word as if he traveled around the world.  Bless his heart, Mr. Picky “snuck” some food from camp to bring to my husband and me.  Thankfully, it was from breakfast the morning he left and not from last week.  From his backpack he pulled out a paper cup with a few pieces of melon for me and a cup with mini cinnamon buns mixed with tater tots for my husband.  What does that tell you?

grated zucchini

While Mr. Picky can’t stop talking about his counselors, his bunk mates and all the competitions in which he participated, I had to find out about the food.  What was your favorite dinner?  Did you eat any vegetables?  What did you drink?  Blah, blah, blah.  I’m so predictable, but I have no self control.  I have to give the camp props that soda is not served.  I don’t know if I could handle that.

that's everything!

So what I have gathered is that Mr. Picky didn’t eat any protein at breakfast ever since, go figure, the camp doesn’t serve Organic Pastures Raw Organic Milk, and Mr. Picky still doesn’t eat eggs or cheese.  And it also sounds like the only vegetable he ate was cucumber.  So we have some catching up to do!  One thing that my son loves is any type of burger, even veggie burgers.  I made these turkey burgers the week before he left and he loved them so they’re going on the dinner menu again this week.  It’s another winner recipe from Yotam Ottolenghi’s “Jerusalem” cookbook.

12 patties

yogurt-sumac sauce

If you’re bored with plain burgers, these are so different and delicious.  And a great way to make a (small) dent in your zucchini crop.  They are moist, herby and they’ve got a great kick to them.  If spicy isn’t your thing, you may want to cut back to a pinch of cayenne.  Although if you make the sumac sauce, which is delicious, it really cuts the heat from the burgers.  But I’m not really doing dairy these days and Mr. Picky didn’t want any sauce, so I only made half the recipe for the sauce and I thought it was the perfect amount.  I also didn’t use traditional buns when I made these.  Bread will just detract from the tastiness of these burgers!  Instead we ate them on lettuce leaves with some chopped cucumbers and tomatoes, right up my alley.  Of course if you want a more traditional burger, you can probably get 6 “standard” size patties and pile them onto buns with all your favorite fixings.  Delish!

mediterranean turkey and zucchini burgers | pamela salzman



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Mediterranean turkey and zucchini burgers recipe
Serves: 4-6 (Makes about 18 1½ ounce burgers or 12 2½ ounce burgers)
  • 1 pound ground turkey (I like dark meat)
  • 1 large zucchini, coarsely grated (scant 2 cups)
  • 3 scallions, white and green parts, thinly sliced
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped mint
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • 2 cloves garlic, grated or minced
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper (perfect for us, but the original recipe called for ½ teaspoon; you can use even less if you don’t want them spicy)
  • unrefined olive oil, coconut oil or ghee for searing

  • For the Sour Cream & Sumac Sauce:
  • Scant ⅓ cup full-fat Greek yogurt
  • Scant ¼ cup sour cream (or use all Greek yogurt)
  • ½ teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • ½ Tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • ½ small clove garlic, grated or minced
  • 2 ¼ teaspoons unrefined, cold pressed, extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 ½ teaspoons sumac
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • a few grinds of freshly ground black pepper
  1. Make the sour cream and sumac sauce by placing all the ingredients in a small bowl. Stir well and set aside or chill until needed.
  2. In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients for the patties except the olive oil. Mix gently with your hands and then shape into about 18 burgers, each weighing about 1 ½ ounces or 12 burgers, each weighing about 2 ½ ounces.
  3. Pour enough oil into a large frying pan to form a layer about 1/16 inch thick on the pan bottom. Heat over medium heat until hot, then sear the patties in batches on both sides. Cook each batch for about 5-7 minutes on each side, adding oil as needed, until golden brown and cooked through.
  4. Serve warm or at room temperature, with the sauce spooned over or on the side.



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  1. These were amazing! Followed the original recipe (finished in the oven, as per original from the cookbook) precisely and these burgers were great. Not all that sticky, stayed together well, can’t imagine adding breadcrumbs. Our zucchini bounty is plentiful and we will be making these again!

    • I am so glad to hear it was a success, Lynne! Enjoy your zucchini bounty!

  2. Absolutely delicious with lettuce! My kind of flavors! Two questions: If you were going to grill them (I Know!) what would you add to firm them up a bit? Panko? And…what is Sumac? I couldn’t find it anywhere, but I didn’t know where to look either, lol! I just added some grated cucumber and parsley and made the sauce a yummy tzatziki but would love to try the sumac! Thanks for another winner!

    • Funny ;). When turkey burgers are firm enough to grill, they’re so dry. But I suppose you could use some panko or take them directly from the fridge. You just have to grease up your grill grates. Sumac is a very tasty tart berry that’s ground up into this red powder. It has a little citrus note to it. I love it. I find it in the spice section at Whole Foods, or you can order it on

  3. Pamela, even though I haven’t been able to come to your cooking classes as much as I used to, I’ve still been using your recipes. More often than ever actually! The zucchini turkey burgers are so good. Like others I was worried about how wet they were, but they held together perfectly. I’ve made them without mint and they are also delicious that way too. Thanks for another great recipe.

    • So nice to hear from you! If the turkey mixture isn’t wet, your patties are going to be dry. At least that’s how I see it. Thank you!

  4. So delicious and easy to make!

    • I’m glad you think so!

  5. I’m pretty sure I just made meat falafel. It needed more spices than just cayenne and cumin. We just made some tortillas and added some sliced tomatoes and red onion. I’d make it again with a few tweaks on the spices.

    • Good point about the falafel! I actually tried molding the meat mixture onto metal skewers, but it was too moist and didn’t hold. The original recipe called for more cayenne, but it was too spicy for my kids. I think if you like heat, you should go for it!

  6. OMG!!!!!! I hate burgers but these are phenomenal! I grilled them on grill pan and finished them off in oven.. Being a little skiddish about raw turkey. I haven’t procured sumac yet, so tried raita. YUM! It’s
    baseball season cause you hit it out of the park again!

    • Awesome, Barbara! You know what’s funny? I actually don’t like burgers either. I think it’s the bun that throws me — all that bread dilutes the flavor of the patty. These I ate like a lettuce wrap — yum is right!

  7. I made these for dinner last night…instead of making them in to paddys I made sprayed a 9X13 pan with cooking spray and put the meat in it like thin meatloaf…I cooked it for 35 minutes at 350. It ROCKED! I then cut it into 18 pieces…easy sneezy…THANKS for the recipe…it will be a family favorite here too!

    • That might be the most genius idea I have heard in a long time. So much easier to do it like that. Wow. You just blew my mind. Thanks for sharing!

  8. It’s funny, I’ve had “Jerusalem” for months now and I’ve made many recipies from the book, but hadn’t made these yet. You inspired me and I made these the other day. They were delicious, but I needed to add almost 1 cup of breadcrumbs in order to form the patties. It was way too wet and sticky without them. Will definitely be making them again soon!

    • I love the book! I agree that the meat mixture is very sticky, but the patties stay nice and moist. My “Tasty Turkey Burger” recipe is the same — sticky turkey mixture, but it doesn’t create any problems with the end result. Did you find that the patties were dry with the addition of breadcrumbs? Just curious! Thanks, Shirin!

      • They weren’t dry at all. Just delicious! I think the zucchini helped keep them moist.

        • Great to know! Thanks, Shirin!

  9. OMGOSH…can’t wait to try these…YUMMM!

    • Big hit in this house!

  10. Found this recipe on facebook, seriously the best burger I ever had!

    • very nice of you to leave a comment, rita! glad you liked it as much as we did.

  11. These look delicious… I’m looking forward to trying them! I’m always looking for ways to zucchini this time of year. 🙂

    • You and me both!

  12. Can i use ground orgánic chicken.

    • sure!

  13. hi pamela
    these sound really good. do you think they would freeze well [raw] to be cooked in small amounts as needed?
    thanks for all your great recipes. I tried the minted pea dip the other day…. everyone loved it.


    • thanks, holiana! not sure about freezing these as you would likely be refreezing the turkey meat (no fresh turkey at this time of year in my area — it’s all frozen/defrosted). but also the texture of the zucchini might change. i guess it’s worth a try, but just to let you know i’ve haven’t done it myself.

  14. Hi Pamela,
    Can you substitute yogurt for the sour cream?

    • yes, i think that would work just fine. use Greek yogurt though. there’s a brand i love at whole foods called Straus Family Farms. their full fat plain greek yogurt is amazing!

  15. I put a smiley face after the “not so much” comment above, but it didn’t show in the reply. Just don’t want to seem too grouchy – lol!

    • tee-hee! look who you’re talking to. i have 15-year old and 16-year old daughters as well. no need to explain!

  16. Ha – this post cracked me up as I just picked up my son from 1 week of camp too. Last year when he was 12, I felt just like you did – now that he is 13, not so much 😉

    I make your other turkey burger recipe all the time but I guess it’s time for a change!

    Thanks for the recipe.

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I come from a large Italian-American family with 28 first cousins (on one side of the family!) where sit-down holiday dinners for 85 people are the norm (how, you might ask – organization! But more on that later …).

Some of my fondest memories are of simple family gatherings, both large and small, with long tables of bowls and platters piled high, the laughter of my cousins echoing and the comfort of tradition warming my soul.

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