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  • Taste of Italy Turkey Burger

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  • 2 pounds ground turkey, a combination of white and dark meat
    1/4 red onion, peeled and chopped
    3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
    3/4 teaspoon kosher or sea salt, divided
    3/8 teaspoon ground black pepper, divided
    1/4 teaspoon crushed red-pepper flakes
    1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh basil
    1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano
    1 egg
    Scant 2 cups tomato-basil-flavored pasta sauce, divided
    2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
    1/4 cup drained and chopped sun-dried tomatoes
    3/4 cup Italian-seasoned breadcrumbs
    1 1/2 cups grated pecorino Romano cheese, divided
    1 1/2 cups sliced baby portobello mushrooms
    1 cup white wine
    1 cup sliced Kalamata olives, drained and rinsed
    Nonstick cooking spray, as needed
    6 slices provolone cheese
    6 focaccia rolls
    6 slices tomato
    In a large bowl, crumble the ground turkey along with the onion, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, 1/4 teaspoon of the pepper, the red-pepper flakes, basil and oregano. In a medium bowl, beat the egg with 1/3 cup of the pasta sauce and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Pour sauce mixture over seasoned turkey and mix to combine. Mix in the sun-dried tomatoes, breadcrumbs and 1/3 cup of the cheese, mixing gently by hand until all ingredients are thoroughly combined.
    Divide mixture and form 6 patties, coating them with remaining cheese. Set them aside to rest briefly. Patties can be assembled up to 1 day in advance, covered and refrigerated until ready to grill; remove burgers from refrigerator 15 minutes prior to cooking to temper slightly.
    Just before cooking burgers, heat remaining oil in a small saute pan over medium-high heat until hot. Add the mushrooms along with remaining salt and pepper and saute until lightly colored, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in the wine and olives and keep mixture over low heat until ready to assemble sandwiches. Warm remaining pasta sauce.
    Heat oven to 200 F.
    Because burgers are delicate, you might want to heat a cast-iron grill pan on grill, or cook them in a large frying pan. Heat grill or frying pan over medium-high heat. Coat surface with a little spray oil and gently add patties. Lower heat to medium and cook burgers for 4 minutes, being careful not to move them until they are ready to turn. Gently and carefully flip burgers using a spatula assisted by your other hand. Cook an additional 4 minutes and check for doneness; a meat thermometer inserted should read 165 F.
    Reduce heat to medium-low and top each burger with a slice of the cheese. Continue cooking until cheese melts, an additional 2 to 3 minutes. Gently remove burgers and set aside to rest for a couple of minutes.
    While cheese is melting, slice the rolls and place them in preheated oven to warm for a few minutes.
    Spoon some sauteed mushrooms and olives over bottom of each roll, followed by a slice of tomato. Place a burger on top of each. Divide pasta sauce among burgers, spooning about 1/4 cup sauce over each. Replace roll tops and serve immediately. Makes 6 servings.
    — Recipe from George Levinthal, Goleta, Calif.
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