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Quinoa-and-Turkey Patties in Pita with Tahini Sauce


This dish was inspired by Middle Eastern kibbe, which is made of ground lamb and bulghur. Crisp cucumber and red-onion slices contrast the creamy tahini (sesame-seed paste) dressing and soft patties.

  • Servings: 6

Photography: Carl Carter

Source: Martha Stewart Living, October 2004


  • 1 cup white quinoa
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 12 ounces ground dark-meat turkey
  • 1/4 teaspoon plus 1 pinch ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon plus 1 pinch ground cumin
  • Pinch of crushed red-pepper flakes (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
  • 2 scallions, finely chopped
  • 3/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • Vegetable-oil cooking spray
  • 6 lettuce leaves, torn into large pieces
  • 1 English (hothouse) cucumber (10 ounces), thinly sliced into rounds
  • 1 small red onion, cut into thin half-moons
  • 6 pita breads


  1. Rinse quinoa thoroughly in a fine sieve; drain. Bring 2 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add quinoa; return to a boil. Stir quinoa; cover, and reduce heat. Simmer until quinoa is tender but still chewy, about 15 minutes. Fluff quinoa with a fork; let cool.

  2. Meanwhile, process garlic, tahini, lemon juice, and 1/4 cup cold water in a food processor until smooth. If necessary, thin with water until pourable. Transfer dressing to a small bowl; cover. Refrigerate until ready to use.

  3. Put turkey, spices, mint, scallions, and salt in a clean bowl of the food processor; pulse until a smooth paste forms. Add quinoa; process until mixture clumps around the blade, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a bowl. With dampened hands, roll about 2 tablespoons quinoa mixture into a ball; flatten slightly, and set aside on a plate. Repeat with remaining mixture to make 24 patties total.

  4. Heat a dry large cast-iron skillet or grill pan over medium heat until hot. Working in batches, lightly coat both sides of patties with cooking spray. Cook patties in skillet, turning once, until cooked through, about 8 minutes per side. Transfer patties to a clean plate, and loosely cover with foil to keep warm.

  5. Divide lettuce, cucumber, and red onion among pita breads; top each with 4 quinoa patties. Drizzle each sandwich with 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon tahini dressing, and fold pitas over filling.


To make this recipe as seen on "The Martha Stewart Show," use neutral-tasting oil, such as canola or safflower, instead of cooking spray. Drizzle finished sandwiches with tahini (sesame seed paste) mixture described in step 2.

Reviews Add a comment

  • dkidsmama
    4 AUG, 2014
    The first time I tried these I wasn't a fan. I had leftovers so I ate it again and thought "they're not too bad!" Then the cravings started. These aren't fast food but I found they are worth the effort once I decided I liked them. Now I crave them, and they're healthy! Quinoa and tahini both have excellent health benefits so whatever you do, don't substitute them. Let yourself acquire a taste for something new.
  • MarleneMarti
    2 AUG, 2011
    Very good and easy to make.
  • kellypp13
    3 FEB, 2011
    i made this a few weeks ago and had some leftovers, so I froze them. Took them out last night and threw them in a pot of spaghetti sauce as meatballs. Yummy and they held up so well. I think I might play with some of the seasoning and make it more italian.
  • jag10park
    11 JAN, 2011
    Made this resume using whilte meat turkey ground (I used 1.25 lbs and cooked in the quinoa in fat free low sodium chicken stock). Excellent and the calorie reduction from the change didn't impact the moistness and taste. Will definately make it again.
  • Minikathy1
    10 JAN, 2011
    Saw this recipe today on the Martha Stewart show.....can't wait to try it! I would like also to try it with Greek yogurt instead of Tahini (for calcium) and spinach instead of lettuce (so many vitamins).
  • agmcnamara
    21 JAN, 2010
    Healthy, delicious and fun to eat.