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Not all burgers have to be beef.

All you hamburger purists, hear me out: It's going to be a long summer — we'll be turning to our grills more as we continue to leave the house less than we would pre-COVID-19. Use this time to get yourself out of whatever hamburger rut you've been in. Put down the frozen patties and try mixing up something delicious with your hands.

Burgers come in all shapes and sizes, in different meats, and yes, some without any meat at all. Ground turkey or chicken is a great, healthy alternative to beef, and most burger recipes can be helped with the addition of vegetables such as chopped leafy greens, mushrooms or grated carrots to help add bulk, flavor and nutrition.

Making your own burger patties is easy. Consider making the patties a few hours before you plan to grill them and let them cool on a covered tray in your fridge so the mixture can really set. This will also make more tender, wet burger mixtures — such as bean burgers, or ground chicken — more likely to hold their shape on the grill. When mixing your burgers, make sure the mixture isn't too wet that it will fall through your grill grates, but also not too dry or you'll have tough burger patties to chew. To keep more of the mixture on your burger and not on your hands as you shape your patties, dip your hands in cold water right before forming.

After you've shaped the patties, don't forget the magic thumb imprint in the middle, which burger experts say helps keep the burger from puffing up in to a round ball and helps keep the shape and patty from shrinking.

TURKEYBALL BURGERS

Recipe courtesy of Geoff Smith, sports editor

Serves: 3 to 5

INGREDIENTS:

1 package of ground turkey

1 cup of spinach

1 cup of crumbled feta cheese

3/4 cup of panko bread crumbs

1 egg

Salt and pepper (to taste)

Provolone cheese slices

1 loaf of French bread

1 avocado

DIRECTIONS:

Take the spinach and chop it down until the pieces are relatively small. Take the turkey meat and place in a bowl. Add egg, bread crumbs, feta cheese, spinach, salt and pepper on top of the turkey, then use your hands to combine ingredients together. Once the mixture is the right consistency for you, form balls with the mixture, and press into patties. A package of turkey should make between 5 to 6 burgers, depending on the size you want.

Preheat grill over medium-high heat. Once the grill has reached temperature, place patties down on grill. Cook on each side for 5 to 6 minutes depending on patty size. Add slice of favorite cheese on top if you want. As patties finish up, cut French bread to size, and place on top rack of grill (off the heat) to toast.

Put the patty on the french bread, then cut the avocado into slices. Place 3 to 4 avocado pieces on top of the patty.

***

CHICKEN RANCH BURGERS

Recipe courtesy of Lindsey Hollenbaugh, managing editor of features

INGREDIENTS:

1 pound ground chicken

One 1-ounce package dry Ranch dressing mix

1/3 cup cooked and crumbled bacon (can use bacon bits in a pinch)

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

hamburger buns

DIRECTIONS:

Combine ground chicken, ranch dressing mix, cooked bacon, and cheddar cheese. Form into 3 or 4 burger patties.

Prepare grill. Grill chicken burgers for 4 to 5 minutes per side. Serve on hamburger buns with favorite burger toppings.

***

CALIFORNIA BLACK BEAN BURGERS

This recipe has been a summer-time favorite in my family for quite a while (and one of the only vegetarian recipes I can make that won't get me a "Great! Would be better with beef..." comment.) Yes, it can get a little messy, but I love these lightly spiced patties that I can make more or less spicy with a good salsa. — Meggie Baker, calendar editor

( From Betty Crocker)

INGREDIENTS:

One 15-ounce can black beans with cumin and chili spices, undrained

One 4-ounce can chopped green chilies, undrained

1 cup plain dry bread crumbs

1 egg, beaten

1/4 cup yellow cornmeal

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

5 hamburger buns, toasted

1 tablespoon mayonnaise or salad dressing (optional)

1 1/4 cups shredded lettuce

3 tablespoons thick-and-chunky salsa

DIRECTIONS:

Place beans in food processor or blender. Cover and process until slightly mashed; remove from food processor. Mix beans, chilies, bread crumbs and egg. Shape mixture into 5 patties, each about 1/2 inch thick. Coat each patty with cornmeal.

Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Cook patties in oil 10 to 15 minutes, turning once, until crisp and thoroughly cooked on both sides. Add to burger buns and top with mayonnaise, lettuce, patties, salsa.

***

SALSA BLACK BEAN BURGERS

Courtesy of Becky Drees, features designer

INGREDIENTS:

1/2 cup prepared salsa

Two 15-ounce cans black beans, rinsed

1 cup well-crushed tortilla chips

cup grated white onion

1 large egg, beaten

3 tablespoons mayonnaise

4 teaspoons chili powder

2 teaspoons cumin

3/4 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons avocado oil or canola oil, divided

DIRECTIONS:

Place salsa in a fine-mesh sieve and stir a few times to drain excess liquid. Mash beans with potato masher until no whole ones remain. Stir in salsa, tortilla chips, grated onion, egg, mayo, chili powder, cumin and salt. Let stand 10 minutes.

Form mixture into 8 burgers about 3 inches wide (1/3 cup each). Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium, add 4 burgers and cook until browned and heated through, 3 to 4 minutes on each side. Repeat with remaining burgers. Serve on buns with guacamole, tomato slices, sprouts and red onion.


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