Falafel In Pita & Tomato Cucumber Salad

I was feeling quite adventuresome and tried a new recipe last night – new for me anyway.  Since No Thank You Boy is off clobbering a zillion balls at tennis camp, I decided to make a meal that he would never in a million years ingest or enjoy:  falafel, my friends.  An irresistible Israeli concoction of smashed chickpeas, onions and cilantro – served in warm pita, with a creamy yogurt sauce.  NTYB repellant for sure.

I’ve never even ordered falafel in a restaurant, so don’t ask what inspired me to attempt it at home;  I just felt like making something different.  I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but I did know that traditional falafel is formed into small balls and deep fried, for a crunchy exterior and soft inside.  While I believe that deep-frying has its time and place in the world, I’m not in to all that rigamarole and mess.  Luckily I was able to find a recipe for a more manageable (and less messy) sautéed patty.

The verdict from the FamDam (an honestly, it could have gone either way, with or without NTYB):  really, really good – four thumbs up, in fact!

On the side we had a simple salad of tomatoes and diced cucumber.  I embellished it a bit with half a can of sliced olives and a tablespoon or two of crumbled feta (had both hanging around in the fridge).  Simple, easy, and a cool compliment to the spicy yogurt sauce of the sandwich.

One final word:  this meal was cheap, cheap, cheap to prepare!  I always blog about sale ingredients (and the salad ingredients are on sale), but this falafel is ridiculously inexpensive to make, even without the main ingredients being in the current ad.

Give it a try if you’re in a vegetarian (or cheapskate!) frame of mind…I can’t wait to eat the leftovers for lunch!

Serves: 4 – 6
Source:  epicurious.com

1 c. plain yogurt (I love the plain Chobani)
1 c. chopped fresh cilantro, divided
1 c. chopped onion, divided
5 large garlic cloves, minced and divided
1 T. lemon juice
½ t. cayenne pepper (less if you can’t HANDLE the heat), divided

2 15 oz. cans garbanzo beans, drained
3 T. plus ½ c. flour
2 t. ground cumin
1 large egg (Sparboe are on sale this week, 7/21/10 to 7/27/10)

Olive oil
Warmed pita bread (I love the Kangaroo flatbread)
Sliced tomato and onion
Lettuce leaves
Sriracha sauce for a bigger kick

Whisk yogurt, ½ cup cilantro, ¼ c. onion, 1 clove garlic, lemon juice, and ¼ teaspoon cayenne in a small bowl to blend; season with salt and pepper.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Blend garbanzo beans, 3 tablespoons flour, cumin, remaining ½ cup cilantro, 4 garlic cloves, and ¼ teaspoon cayenne in processor until almost smooth.  Add egg and remaining ¾ cup chopped onion and blend, using on/off turns, until onion is finely chopped.  Transfer mixture to a bowl; season with salt and pepper.  Shape mixture into four ½ inch thick patties (I made 6).  Turn patties in remaining ½ cup flour to coat on both sides.

Pour enough oil into a heavy, large skillet to coat the bottom.  Heat over medium-high heat.  Add patties and cook until crisp and golden, about 8 minutes per side.  Cut the patties in half and place them on the flatbread.  Top with tomato, onion, and lettuce.  Pass yogurt sauce at the table.

Serves: 6
Source: epicurious.com

¾ pint grape tomatoes, halved (on sale)
1 large cucumber, peeled, seeded, and diced (on sale)
4 scallions, thinly sliced
Sliced olives (optional)
Crumbled feta (optional)
¼ c. chopped fresh Italian parsley
2 T. fresh lemon juice, or to taste
¼ c. good quality olive oil

Stir together tomatoes, cucumber, scallions, parsley, and salt and pepper to taste.  Squeeze lemon juice over salad and stir.  Drizzle olive oil over and stir again.

Featured, Fresh, Frugal, Fabulous, News | July 20th, 2010