Travel is, without a doubt, one thing I am extremely passionate about. I’ve been fortunate enough to visit a few different countries so far. In high school – my first trip abroad – I traveled to Rome, Pompeii, and Capri with a group from my school. Two years ago I spent two weeks backpacking Europe with my friend, Chelsea. We originally planned for a month long trip and ironically, a lack of planning, amongst other things, brought us back two weeks sooner than scheduled. We were able to soak up everything Nice, Paris, and Barcelona had to offer but we never did make it to the Greek islands as originally planned. So this past February, I decided it was time I finally made the trip.
I’m writing this post one week prior to my departure. This is when it’s starting to feel real. We’re finalizing travel plans, ferry schedules, AirBnB bookings, packing lists, etc. It’s gettin’ really real. My goals for this trip are as follows: 1. Do not overpack, 2. Do not forget sunscreen, 3. Do not get stressed out when you inevitably miss a ferry or get lost in the villages of Santorini. One of the major things that caused mine and Chelsea’s backpacking adventure to fall apart was stress. Traveling from destination to destination became a chore. Truly, after getting lost in Malakoff for 8 hours, we’d had enough “adventure” and were more than ready to be back in the familiar neighborhoods of Massachusetts. So this time, I’m not letting the stress – or the whole getting lost for 8 hours thing – happen again.
There’s a Greek restaurant in my town that I always order Falafel from even though, traditionally, this is a Middle-Eastern dish. Either way, I decided to take a stab at it in celebration of my fast approaching trip. I’m a big fan of Mediterranean food, and really the whole European approach to eating in general. The time I spent in Europe taught me, if nothing else, a little about appreciating the food you put into your body. When traveling two years ago, Chelsea and I survived off of fresh local produce, rich cheeses, and freshly baked baguettes. Oh, and some European wine, too. Europeans aren’t calorie obsessed like us Americans. They aren’t trying new diets every week and supposedly spend little time in gyms. If anyone is mindful when it comes to eating, it’s the Europeans.
So, back to my Falafel. Typically, this is a dish made with mashed chickpeas and herbs, shaped into balls, deep fried, and eaten with pita bread. I made my Falafel into a burger, grilled it with a little coconut oil, and served it up on a brioche bun with greens and a homemade cucumber dill dressing. With it being Memorial Day weekend and all, I figured I needed to make a burger of some sort. You can also ditch the brioche bun and serve this over a salad with mixed greens, cucumber, tomato, and a little fresh feta cheese. The cucumber dill dressing is perfect on a burger or salad.
Makes 6 Burgers
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup red onion, chopped
2 tbsp parsley, chopped
2 tbsp cilantro, chopped
2 cloves garlic
1 squeeze lemon
salt & pepper, to taste
1 tsp cumin
3/4 tsp cardamom
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tbsp baking powder
1/4 cup flour
1/4 english cucumber
1 cup plain greek yogurt
1 squeeze lemon
1 tbsp dill, chopped
1 tsp garlic powder
salt & pepper, to taste
1. In a food processor, add drained chickpeas and red onion. Pulse until chickpeas are broken down.
2. Add cilantro, parsley, lemon, and seasonings and pulse again until ingredients are well combined, scraping down the sides of the food processor with a spatula as needed.
3. Sift together baking powder and flour. Add to food processor, pulsing again until mixture is combined and using a spatula to finish if needed.
4. Let sit in the fridge for about an hour.
5. While falafel mixture is in the fridge, make cucumber dressing by mixing together all ingredients in a small bowl. Let sit in the fridge for about an hour before serving.
6. After an hour has passed, form the mixture into four round patties. Place a skillet with 1 tbsp coconut oil over medium high heat. When oil is fully melted and hot, place the patties in the pan. Cook for about 7 minutes on each side.
7. Assemble burgers by layering falafel, sprouts or greens, tomato, and cucumber dill dressing in between pita or bun of your choice.