It may surprise you to hear this, but John and I are working on this thing called "being healthy."
Yes, this blog actually has the word "garden" in it (which seemingly implies health), and we do eat a lot of farm fresh fruits and vegetables, but we certainly don't shy away from eating fattening foods.
But, there's a catch. The first part is that most Americans eat much more red meat and pork than they should. And we all (should) know that eating it more than once or twice a week is not good for your health.
The bigger issue for me, however, is one of sustainability and ethics. While I do firmly believe that humans are meant to eat some meat, I cannot bring myself to buy meat that has been factory farmed. That is, I can't bring myself to buy meat from any major supermarket or large provider. For starters, the treatment of animals on factory farms is inhumane and unethical. It's also bad for the environment, as their waste and disease runs off into our water supply and pollutes the air. And finally, meat that is raised in these conditions simply isn't good for you. It may be cheap to buy, but the lower price tag is not worth the damage done to the animals and our environment.
So, where to buy sustainable, farm raised, and preferably grass fed meat? Many farmers markets carry it, and my local Whole Foods has also started carrying local Virginia beef and grass-fed beef from Georgia. Of course, farmers markets and Whole Foods are both more expensive than what is sold at mainstream grocery stores.
Our solution? Eat less meat.
It's a win-win solution. It's better for us. It's better for the environment. We spend less money. And finally, we are financially supporting sustainable and local sources of meat. In other words, we're voting with our wallets.
It began as a plan to consume red meat or pork only once a week. Likewise, we planned to eat fish at least once a week (check out this list of sustainable fish). I added a vegetarian night once a week, which is somewhat less popular with my spouse. All other nights are another source of protein, such as chicken or turkey.
Surprisingly, although I was the family member who came up with this idea, John has become an avid supporter.
After a hamburger cookout with friends last weekend, we had a lot of leftover ground beef. When I suggested spaghetti and meatballs for dinner the following evening, I was rudely reminded that we would have to wait until the next week since our weekly red meat ration had been met. The ground beef went into the freezer.
But what to do with all those hamburger buns?
Turkey burgers to the rescue.
And in case you were waiting for some refreshing photos amidst this diatribe of meat eating philosophy. . . here was the inspiration for our turkey burger condiment:
That's right! Garlic scapes have arrived at market. If you haven't tried them, I recommend you snatch up any you find since they won't be around very long. The curvy and tender garlic stalks taste of mild garlic. They're wonderful used as a simple pesto-- simply process them with olive oil and parmesan. They also work well stir fried with fresh market vegetables or added into most anything you'd add garlic to.
I used a combination of white and dark turkey meat, onions (slowly caramelized in olive oil and balsamic vinegar), toasted pine nuts, small bits of dried apricots, some roasted garlic, and freshly ground coriander seeds. To slather on the buns, I simply mixed some mayonnaise, a few teaspoons of pesto stored in my fridge, and some freshly minced garlic scapes.
Although John had his doubts on the merits of a turkey burger, he devoured this quickly enough to convince me it was good.
Turkey Burgers with garlic scape pesto mayonnaise (Makes 4 large burgers)
For the burgers
- 1/2 lb white ground turkey meat
- 1/2 lb dark ground turkey meat
- 1/4 cup dried apricots, diced
- 1/2 onion, sliced to 1/4 inch thickness
- 1 TB balsamic
- 1 TB extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 tsp butter
- 1/4 cup pine nuts (toasted, if desired)
- 2 cloves garlic, roasted
- 1 1/2 tsp ground coriander
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1/2 tsp oregano
For the garlic scape mayonnaise
- 1/4 cup garlic scapes, finely diced
- 2 tsp basil pesto
- 1 tsp EVOO
- 1/4 Cup mayonnaise (+ more to taste)
- dash of freshly cracked black pepper