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From time to time, I make an attempt to cut back on meat with a valiance that’s matched only by its shocking brevity. I don’t ever really foresee myself going whole hog (vegetarian) but a well-written book or essay or a pathos-heavy documentary with somber music can have me re-thinking my diet, and running for the tofu at Trader Joe’s. The problem is I don’t love tofu, at least not the stuff you find in grocery stores, but there are a few meat-free recipes so tasty and satisfying they offer a glimpse into vegetarianism that’s not so bleak. 

Related Reading: How Do Vegans and Vegetarians Get Their Protein?

The feta and falafel burger I unearthed from the newly released “Greek Vegetarian Cookbook” by Heather Thomas, is one of those recipes. Simple to make with familiar flavors, hearty enough to feel like a burger, and light enough not to warrant a nap. And as long as you can nail the texture–a Vitamix will help—it’s pretty tough to mess up, too. (Just check in frequently once your patty is in the hot nonstick skillet and wait for a crispy, brown sear but not quite a char).

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Best of all, there’s a puncher’s chance you already have all (or most) of the ingredients hiding in your fridge or pantry. Cool tzatziki sauce can also be found in most grocery stores if you don’t feel like making your own. Feeling frisky? Add some fresh mint to the burger or swirl some harissa into the tzatziki for a little heat and serve this puppy with air fryer fries, or an easy Greek salad.

Just don’t break any plates. It’s not that kind of party.

Greek Feta and Falafel Burgers

Greeks love burgers and they pop up on menus everywhere from small rustic tavernas to upmarket restaurants and funky seaside bars. Falafels are also popular, and the crisp golden brown patties combine the two.

Feta Falafel Burgers

Prep Time: 15 minutesCook Time: 6-8 minutesServes: 4Makes: 4 burgers
  • 3 cups (1 lb) canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 red or white onion, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 medium tomato, diced
  • 3½ oz feta cheese
  • small bunch of flat-leaf parsley grated zest of 1 lemon
  • pinch of ground cumin
  • 2–3 tablespoons all-purpose (plain) flour
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 sesame-seeded bread rolls
  • shredded lettuce
  • thinly sliced red onion and tomato
  • 4 tablespoons tzatziki
  1. Put the chickpeas into a blender or food processor with the onion, garlic, tomato, feta, parsley, lemon zest, cumin, and 2 tablespoons flour.
  2. Blitz until thick and coarse – it should be firm enough to shape into burgers. If the mixture is too loose, add more flour; too dry, loosen it with a beaten egg yolk or a little lemon juice.
  3. Divide the mixture into 4 equal-size portions. Using your hands, shape them into patties.
  4. Heat the olive oil in a large nonstick skillet (frying pan) over medium heat.
  5. Cook the burgers for 3–4 minutes on each side, until lightly browned and heated right through.
  6. Remove with a palette knife or fish slice and drain on paper towels.
  7. Split the rolls in half and fill each one with a burger, some lettuce, sliced red onion and tomato, and a spoonful of tzatziki.

Header image courtesy of Haarala Hamilton.

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