What's cooking

Chicken burgers with garlic yogurt sauce - yum!


One of my favorite things to do while cooking is to figure out how to make the best use of what we might normally discard. Vegetable scraps can be used to fortify soups or stocks, radish or beet leaves can be reserved to sautee as side vegetables and even fibrous kale stems can be braised and baked into a gratin, for example.

One thing people normally do is cook with the leaves from a bunch of cilantro or parsley and toss the rest. For shame!  These super flavorful, but much overlooked, fledgling parts are not to be wasted. They make an amazing flavor base.

This week, I pulsed up some herb stems and garlic in a food processor and froze them in small tablespoon-sized portions. When dinnertime came, I was able to cook up some quick skillet ground chicken burgers, add a portion of frozen herbs to the pan and throw together a pungent, tangy garlic yogurt sauce, all in under 10 minutes!

There are so many ways fresh produce can be used and stretched to maximize your dollar. Look for more ideas this month in What’s cooking.

Chicken Burgers with Garlic Yogurt Sauce

1 lb. ground chicken

Kosher salt and pepper, to taste

1 tbsp. cilantro and parsley base

8 oz. plain Greek style yogurt*

4 garlic cloves, minced 

Kosher salt and pepper, to taste

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Divide the chicken into four even, thin patties and place in the pan.  Season with salt and pepper.  Cook until golden on one side, flip and continue to cook, placing a piece of foil loosely over the top of the burgers to encourage them to cook through. Add one tablespoon of frozen green herbs, breaking them apart as they begin to sizzle and defrost in the pan. Flip the burgers again to make sure they all season evenly.

Meanwhile combine the yogurt and garlic. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

When the burgers have just cooked through (no pink), serve them immediately with yogurt sauce on the side.

Herb Flavor Base

1 bunch cilantro

1 bunch parsley

4 cloves garlic

Juice of 1 lemon

Using a knife, cut the soft stems and leaves off of each bunch of herbs.  Rinse, dry and reserve in a zip loc bag wrapped in damp paper towel.

Remove the rubber band from the thicker-stemmed portions of herbs, which should have some leaves remaining.  Rinse well to remove any dirt and grit. Dry and place in the bowl of a food processor with garlic cloves and lemon juice. 

Pulse until well chopped and divide into small containers, or wrap one tablespoon portions in Saran Wrap, winding them up into a little beggar’s purse.  Freeze immediately and use as a flavor base or last minute boost in soups, sauce or, for example, to finish these burgers.

Cook’s note: For folks who may be lactose intolerant or kosher, substitute yogurt sauce with prepared tahini, hummus or smoked eggplant as a side condiment to the burgers.