Turkey porcupine sliders

Last September, First Lady Michelle Obama and the USDA put out the challenge to chefs, school nutrition professionals, students and community members: Create an imaginative, nutritious, kid-approved recipe that schools could easily incorporate into the National School Lunch Program. Hundreds of entries came in to the Recipes for Healthy Kids competition and winners were announced after a cook-off at the American Culinary Federation’s annual conference in July. The recipes not only had to taste great—they had to conform to government guidelines for sodium, calories and other nutritional requirements!

Grand Prize went to Todd Bolton, corporate chef of Parasole Restaurant Holdings, for these Turkey Porcupine Sliders. Bolton worked with a team of staff members and students at the South Education Center Alternative Program (SECA) school to develop the winning recipe.The sliders are now on the kid’s menu of Parasole’s two Good Earth restaurants outside Minneapolis.

1/2 cup brown rice                              
1 tbsp. vegetable oil
2 tbsp. yellow onions, minced          
1 small clove garlic, minced                         
1 small stalk celery, minced                         
20 oz. lean ground turkey                             
2 tbsp. dried cranberries, rough chopped
¾ cup spinach leaves, well washed, drained, stems removed, chopped
2 large eggs
½ tsp. salt                                         
½ tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce             
1 scant pinch crushed red pepper

For sandwiches:
12 small multigrain or whole grain rolls
Lettuce leaves
Sliced tomatoes
Thinly sliced red onion (optional)
Condiments of your choice                                        


  1. Wash and sanitize hands, utensils and all equipment to be used.
  2. To cook rice: combine ½ cup brown rice with 1 cup of water and a small pinch of salt. Bring to a boil; reduce to a low simmer and cover. Cook for around 18 minutes, or until water has been absorbed and rice is cooked. Transfer to a plate and cool completely in refrigerator. This can be done up to a full day ahead.
  3. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  4. In small skillet, heat vegetable oil. Sauté yellow onions, celery and garlic until soft, about 5 minutes. Transfer to refrigerator and cool completely.
  5. In large mixing bowl, combine ground turkey and remaining slider ingredients including cooked rice and cooked onion mixture; mix well.
  6. Portion into 2.5 oz. patties the diameter of buns onto a parchment-lined baking pan. Bake at 350°F for 12-18 minutes (Time will vary depending on oven. Use a thermometer to check doneness starting at 12 minutes) until turkey is at an internal temperature of 165°F. Avoid overcooking—the lean turkey will dry out if cooked too long.
  7. Serve on mini whole grain rolls with optional lettuce, tomato, red onion and condiments.

Yield: 6 servings; 2 sliders per serving


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