Quinoa-and-Turkey Patties in Pita with Tahini Sauce

Photo: Carl Carter

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


  • 1 cup white quinoa

  • 1 garlic clove

  • ¼ cup tahini

  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice

  • 12 ounces ground dark-meat turkey

  • ¼ teaspoon plus 1 pinch ground allspice

  • ½ teaspoon plus 1 pinch ground cumin

  • Pinch of crushed red-pepper flakes (optional)

  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint

  • 2 scallions, finely chopped

  • ¾ 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.

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