Pep Up Picnics With Six Gourmet Burger Recipes

Does the thought of hosting another backyard barbeque with the same old boring hamburger make you cringe?  It doesn’t have to. Nothing quite says summer like a hot grill, and some innovative additions to sizzling patties keeps things lively. Try some of these recipes to punch up to your next cook-out or family dinner.  They will not only make you say “yum” but all are waistline friendly and many have added health benefits.

Backyard Firepit Grill, available from Lehman’s.

Greek Feta Beef Burger
A light yogurt sauce supplies healthy zip.

Serves 4

6 oz nonfat plain Greek yogurt
4 oz hothouse cucumbers (unpeeled), coarsely grated (about ½ cup)
½ clove garlic, crushed to a paste
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
1 lb lean ground beef (93 percent or 95 percent lean)
4 oz zucchini, finely diced (about 1 cup)
½ cup crumbled reduced-fat feta
1/3 cup finely diced red onion
½ tsp dried marjoram
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
Vegetable oil cooking spray
1 jar (7 oz) roasted red peppers, drained
4 sourdough rolls, split
Shredded romaine (optional)
Sliced cucumber (optional)

In a bowl, combine yogurt, cucumbers, garlic and juice; set aside. In another bowl, mix beef, zucchini, feta, onion, marjoram, salt and pepper. Form beef mixture into four ¾-inch-thick patties. Coat a grill pan or grill rack with cooking spray. Grill patties over medium-high heat, flipping once, about 5 minutes each side, until internal temperature reaches 160 degrees. Divide roasted peppers evenly among bottom roll halves; top with 1 burger, ¼ yogurt sauce and lettuce and cucumber, if desired. Top each with other half of roll.

Primo Oval XL Charcoal Grill, available from Lehman’s.

Sicilian Turkey Burger
Capers will give these burgers zing and (it’s thought) cancer protection, too. Capers are said prevent the formation of carcinogens that can occur when meat gets char-broiled.

Serves 4

1 lb lean ground turkey
3 tbsp tomato paste
3 tbsp currants
2 tbsp capers
½ tsp dried basil
½ tsp crushed fennel seeds
½ tsp salt
Vegetable oil cooking spray
½ cup grated Parmesan
4 ciabatta rolls, split
4 tsp balsamic vinegar
Sliced tomato (optional)

In a bowl, mix turkey, tomato paste, currants, capers, basil, fennel seeds and salt. Form turkey mixture into four ¾-inch-thick patties. Coat a grill rack or grill pan with cooking spray. Grill patties over medium-high heat until underside is well browned, about 7 minutes; flip and cook 5 minutes more. Top each patty with 2 tbsp Parmesan; close lid or cover pan. Cook until internal temperature reaches 160 degrees, about 2 minutes. Brush bottom of each roll with 1 tsp vinegar; top with 1 burger, tomato, if desired, and other half of roll.

Memphis Pro Stainless Wood-Fired Grill, available from Lehman’s.

Vietnamese Tuna Burger
Frazzled? Feast on fish! Tuna is high in vitamin B12, which stimulates the brain’s production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that helps you relax.

Serves 4

½ tbsp seasoned rice vinegar
1 tbsp plus 1 tsp sesame oil, divided
½ tbsp plus ¼ tsp brown sugar, divided
1 cup shredded red cabbage
½ cup shredded carrots
½ cup broccoli slaw
½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
¼ cup chopped fresh mint
1 tbsp plus 1 tsp fish sauce
1 tbsp plus 1 tsp light soy sauce
1?¼ lb tuna steak, finely chopped
½ cup sliced scallions
½ cup panko breadcrumbs
4 hamburger buns, split

In a bowl, combine vinegar, 1 tsp oil and ¼ tsp sugar. Add cabbage, carrots and broccoli slaw; toss and set aside. In a second bowl, combine cilantro, mint, fish sauce, soy sauce and remaining ½ tbsp sugar. Add tuna and scallions; mix until combined. Form tuna mixture into four ¾-inch-thick patties. Place panko on a plate; coat each patty with crumbs. In a large nonstick skillet, heat remaining 1 tbsp oil over medium heat. Cook burgers, flipping once, until well browned, about 4 minutes per side. Place 1 burger on bottom of each bun; top with ¼ of slaw and other bun half.

Black Bean–Corn Burger
This veggie-licious burger provides 12 grams of filling fiber, nearly half of your recommended daily intake.
Serves 4

1 can (15 oz) low-sodium black beans, rinsed and drained
¾ cup corn, thawed if frozen
½ red bell pepper, cut into ?¼-inch dice
¼ cup whole-wheat breadcrumbs
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
3 large egg whites, lightly beaten
1 tbsp chopped chipotle chile in adobo
½ tsp dried oregano
½ tsp ground cumin
1 tbsp plus 1 tsp olive oil, divided
8 cups baby spinach
Pinch of nutmeg
½ avocado, mashed
1/3 cup reduced-fat sour cream
1 tsp fresh lime juice
4 whole-wheat hamburger buns, split

In a bowl, combine beans, corn, bell pepper, breadcrumbs, cilantro, egg whites, chipotle, oregano and cumin. Form bean mixture into four ¾-inch-thick patties. In a large nonstick skillet, heat 1 tbsp oil over medium-high heat. Cook patties, turning once, until browned, 5 minutes per side; remove from pan. In same skillet, sauté spinach in remaining 1 tsp oil over medium-high heat until wilted, 3 minutes; season
with nutmeg and salt and freshly ground black pepper. In another bowl, mix avocado with sour cream and juice. Place ¼ of cooked spinach on bottom of each bun, then 1 burger and ¼ avocado mixture. Top with other bun half.

Buffalo Chicken Burger
A bit of blue cheese in each patty ups the chicken’s savoriness without adding much fat or calories.

Serves 4

½ cup sliced carrots
1 lb ground white-meat chicken
2 egg whites, lightly beaten
1 celery stalk, roughly chopped
½ cup panko breadcrumbs
¼ cup blue cheese, plus more for garnish (optional)
1 tsp cornstarch
¼ cup hot sauce (such as Tabasco Buffalo Style)
Vegetable oil cooking spray
4 large Kaiser rolls, split
Iceberg lettuce (optional)
Carrot and celery sticks (optional)
Light blue cheese dressing (optional)

In a microwave-safe bowl, combine carrot slices with 2 tbsp water; microwave on high, stirring every minute, until very tender, about 3 minutes. Drain and let cool; mash carrots. Add chicken, egg whites, celery, breadcrumbs and cheese; mix to combine. Form chicken mixture into four ¾-inch-thick patties. In a second bowl, stir cornstarch into hot sauce until dissolved; set aside. Coat a grill rack or grill pan with cooking spray. Grill patties over medium-high heat for 6 minutes; flip and grill 4 minutes more. Brush patties with hot sauce mixture; grill until internal temperature reaches 165?, about 2 minutes. Place 1 burger on bottom of each roll. Garnish with cheese and lettuce, if desired. Top with other half of roll. Serve with carrot and celery sticks and blue cheese dressing for dipping, if desired.

Ranch Bison Burger
Bison contains choline, a nutrient that may help keep stress at bay.

Serves 4

4 oz reduced- or low fat sharp cheddar, divided
1 lb lean ground bison
1 small jalapeño chile, finely diced
1 tsp grated lime zest, plus more for garnish
1 tsp chili powder
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
Vegetable oil cooking spray
4 sourdough rolls, split
Sliced red onion (optional)
Lettuce (optional)
Pickled jalapeño (optional)
Light ranch dressing (optional)

Cut 2 oz cheddar into ¼-inch dice; grate remaining 2 oz cheddar. In a bowl, combine diced cheddar, bison, jalapeño, zest, chili powder, salt and pepper. Form bison mixture into four ¾-inch-thick patties. Coat a grill rack or grill pan with cooking spray; heat over medium-high heat. Cook patties 5 minutes; flip and top each with ?¼ of grated cheddar; grill until internal temperature reaches 160?, about 5 minutes. Place a patty on bottom of each roll. Garnish with zest and onion, lettuce, pickled jalapeño and ranch dressing, if desired. Top with other half of roll.