- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 29, 2009

A burger is only as good as the sides that accompany it. Serve a decent burger with watery ketchup, and chances are you’ll remember the ketchup, not the main event.

If you pay attention to the sidekicks on the plate, you’ll have a meal that’s even more delicious than its parts.

Go beyond the usual suspects.

• Instead of ketchup and mustard, try herb-flavored yogurt, soy sauce, aioli (a garlicky mayonnaise), chutney or salsa. Make your own chutney or salsa or buy it. If you must have mustard, stir in a dollop of horseradish or a bit of minced pickled ginger. Heighten the flavor of ketchup with minced chipotle chilies. (A tiny bit goes a long way.)

• Bread also makes the burger. Toast pita bread on the grill or run it under the broiler to brown, then add the burger. Flour tortillas and naan (Indian flatbread) also are delicious burger holders. Ciabatta rolls, which are crusty and flat, are popping up in more supermarkets and make great burger buns.

• Hold the fries. Making fries is messy, time-consuming business. Substitute a saute of seasonal vegetables. It’s just as appealing, healthier and easier to prepare. Use eggplant, mushrooms, tomatoes, onion and plenty of herbs for an aromatic dish that turns even a plain burger into a feast.

Turkey burgers

Makes 2 servings

8 ounces ground turkey

1 small garlic clove, minced

1/8 teaspoon crushed dried oregano

1/8 teaspoon pepper

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons olive oil

1 large pita bread, split in half

1/4 cup Greek-style nonfat plain yogurt

1/4 teaspoon minced garlic

1 teaspoon minced fresh dill

Combine ground turkey, garlic, oregano, pepper and salt in a bowl. Gently mix. Shape turkey into 2 patties.

Heat oil in medium, nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add turkey and cook for 5 minutes per side or until cooked through. (Turkey also can be cooked on the grill without the olive oil.)

To serve, arrange turkey patties in pita bread halves. Stir together yogurt, garlic and dill. Spoon half of yogurt mixture over each patty.

Each serving has: 310 calories; 15.5 grams total fat; 25 grams protein; 16 grams carbohydrates; 84 milligrams cholesterol; 613 milligrams sodium and 0.5 grams dietary fiber.

Skillet vegetables

Makes 2 servings.

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 large shallot or small onion, thinly sliced

1 celery rib, trimmed and thinly sliced

1 small eggplant, trimmed and diced

1 cup halved cherry tomatoes

1/4 teaspoon crushed dried thyme

1/4 teaspoon crushed dried oregano

1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, optional

1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

2 tablespoons dry vermouth

Heat oil in large nonstick skillet. Add shallot and celery and cook over medium-high heat for 3 minutes. Add eggplant, tomatoes, thyme, oregano, red pepper flakes, 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper.

Cook over medium-high heat for 7 to 10 minutes, or until eggplant is golden and tender, stirring frequently. Pour in vermouth and scrape up browned bits. Taste and adjust salt if needed.


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