We gluten-free folk aren’t ones for food trends. (Unless, of course, said trend is going gluten-free).
Usually the latest and greatest craze involves something ridiculously carby and delicious that makes me want to cry into my soggy slices of Udi’s, and drown my sorrows with a trough of Frosé or Red Wine Hot Chocolate (depending on the season). Such was the case of the ramen burger. And those jerks had the audacity to set up shop just three short blocks from my apartment this summer. Rude!
For those of you who don’t know, a ramen burger is just your run-of-the-mill burger patty sandwiched between a not-so-ordinary bun made out of pan-fried nests of ramen. The ramen burger is both glutenous and gluttonous, and at the time of its ascension, when every hipster in my neighborhood was frolicking in their shortalls toting one, a serious object of my food envy.
But now the Brooklyn Flea has fled for the season, and I’m having the last laugh with my very own tray of homemade paleo ramen burgers.
I got the idea for these parsnip noodle buns from Ali Maffucci’s book Inspiralize Everything, where she uses them as a vehicle for avocado toast (swoon). The process is super simple: saute the spiralized parsnips until soft, combine them with a few beaten eggs, and use a set of ramekins to form the noodle batter into buns.
I scaled up the quantity to make six total, and strayed from the directions slightly. In her book, Ali recommends chilling the parsnip bun molds for 15 minutes before you pan-fry them so they adhere better. But I only had 2 ramekins, so in the name of efficiency I skipped this step. The buns still turned out great, they just needed a little more shaping with my spatula in the pan.
You can go whatever direction you like with the burger, including using ground beef or pork. I went with turkey to keep them light and added some fresh ginger and garlic for flavor. To make them even more Asian-y, you could add a teaspoon of sriracha or sambal olek instead of the cayenne and a tablespoon of gluten-free tamari. As you know, I’m doing an elimination diet this month, so I decided to keep them as simple as possible. And just that handful of ingredients (less than 10!) did not disappoint.
If you’re reducing your sugar intake for the first time, you need to get intimate with these parsnip buns. Maybe it’s just that my tastebuds have changed, but they tasted sweeter than pancakes! And they’re another great reason to leave sugar-filled ketchup off your burger—you’ll still get that insane duo of salty-sweet that makes all fast food so addictive.
For those of you observing other protocols, know that these burgers are Whole30 friendly so long as you don’t top them with any condiments with added sugar. I served them with a cilantro mayo (1/2 cup mayo, 1 tablespoon finely chopped cilantro, 1 tablespoon lime juice). You can do something similar by making your own aioli – it’s really simple actually, especially if you have a food processor.
If you’re reaching the end of your Whole30 or elimination diet protocol and are all out of ideas, or are simply looking for some low-carb comfort food, let these ramen burgers come to your weeknight rescue. Also, the Super Bowl is around the corner. Just saying…
Hope you all had a great long weekend!
From one healthy, spiralizing hedonist, to another,
Paleo “Ramen Burgers” with Parsnip Noodle Buns
- Olive oil
- 4 large parsnips (2 pounds), see note, peeled and spiralized
- Sea salt
- 4 large eggs, beaten
- 1 pound ground turkey, preferably dark meat
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh ginger
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
- Arugula, for serving
- In a large nonstick skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil. Sauté the parsnip noodles over medium-high heat until soft, about 5 minutes. Season lightly with salt and transfer to a mixing bowl. Allow to cool for 2 minutes, then stir in the eggs.
- Wipe out the skillet, and heat another tablespoon of the oil over a medium flame. Fill four ramekins halfway with the parsnip mixture and press down with the back of your spoon to compress the noodles. When the oil shimmers, add the parsnip buns by inverting the ramekins over the pan and tapping the bottom. Use a spatula to push in any stray noodles and form a round. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until nicely browned. Carefully flip and cook for 2 more minutes on the second side. Remove to a plate and repeat with the remaining parsnip batter in two additional batches (you’ll have 12 total buns). [Note: to keep the buns warm, you can transfer to a baking sheet and stash in a 300 degree oven until the burgers are ready to be assembled].
- In a medium mixing bowl, with clean hands, combine the turkey, ginger, garlic, cayenne and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Form the meat mixture into 6 equal balls.
- Add another 1 tablespoon of oil to the same skillet you used for the buns and set it over medium-high heat. Add the burgers, 3 at a time, and press down with a spatula to form a thin patty, roughly the same size as the buns. Cook for 10 minutes, or until the burgers are browned on both sides and cooked through. Repeat with the remaining patties.
- Assemble: top the parsnip buns with one turkey burger, a dollop of the condiment of your choice (see suggestions), arugula, and the second bun. Serve warm!
I used the inspiralizer and per Ali’s instructions in Inspiralize Everything, used Blade D. For a how-to on spiralizing parsnips with this machine, click here. Otherwise, whatever spiralizing apparatus will do! If you don’t own a spiralizer, you can simply grate the parsnips. They just won’t resemble ramen burger patties. But I’m sure will taste delicious! In her book, Ali recommends chilling the parsnip bun molds for 15 minutes, but I only had 2 ramekins, so in the name of efficiency skipped this step. The buns still turned out great, they just needed a little more shaping with my spatula.