Baked falafel with feta tzatziki sauce is a quick and flavorful weeknight meal. Or a great snack after a few beers. No judging.
It’s storytime folks…
When Liz was attending law school, she was fortunate enough to live in heart of Greenwich Village, meaning she had easy access to great food and bars nearby. And as you might expect from a young, energetic lady-about-town (and less so from her grumpy, crotchety, in-bed-by-ten significant other), there were a fair number of nights that involved alcohol induced frivolity. Now, provided you don’t push into the dreaded hangover territory, that state of buzzed bliss leads to something truly awesome: drunk food. How good does ordinary food taste when you’ve been out whooping it up? That pizza joint on the corner? Tremendous! Fast food burger? Insert angelic choir here. And one that you might not expect? Falafel.
Falafel makes for great drunk food. It’s hot and savory, and the name seems impervious to slurring. It just sort of rolls off the tongue. Our favorite place was a hole in the wall called Mamoun’s. It’s the place to go at 3 am when you need some falafel! And even better, when we visited in a more… er, sober… condition, we found that it wasn’t just the booze talking, it was just really good food! We’ve tried a few different recipes, and although this isn’t exactly like the original (I think it’s something in the 40 year old fryer…), it’s a recipe good for a meal anytime.
If you’re not inclined to soak dried garbanzo beans (so much more fun to say than “chickpeas”) for this recipe, you can use canned. Just make sure to drain them thoroughly before processing with the rest of the ingredients. When it comes time to make the patties, you’ll probably notice that you’ve got more of a batter than a dough. Don’t worry about it. Just portion out onto your baking sheet. It holds a loose shape, and will set when cooked. Also, do not be tempted to put a silpat mat under these. Yes, it might make cleaning easier, but you’ll lose the crispiness on the bottom that is very satisfying.
You can eat these on their own, on a salad, or make yourself a pita sandwich, which is our preference. And you can go as wild as you want on the toppings! For this batch, we added spinach, quick pickled onions and tomatoes, and a feta tzatziki sauce. It’ll also play well with other veggies and your preferred hot sauce.
For the tzatziki sauce, you can go one of two ways with your choice of yogurt. If you go with Greek style yogurt, you can skip the straining step, because nothing will happen. It’s the faster option to be sure, but I honestly think that strained regular yogurt tastes better. I think it is because the regular yogurt is a bit less tangy, and so the other flavors come through more. Also, for the cucumber, feel free to dice it as coarse or as fine as you want. Some people like a very small dice for a smoother sauce, but I prefer it with a bit more texture. Be warned that depending on the strength of your garlic, this might end up being a little more pungent that you hoped for. So if you are concerned, start off with one clove, and then add another. If you have leftover sauce, be sure to stir it up before using, as additional water will probably leach from the cucumber.
Fresh, messy, and satisfying: falafel is anytime food.
Falafel adapted from Cooking Light. Tzatziki adapted from Food Network.
- 15 oz canned chickpeas
- ¾ cup chopped green onions
- ¾ cup chopped fresh parsley
- 1½ teaspoon baking powder
- 1½ teaspoon ground coriander
- 1½ teaspoon ground cumin
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ½ teaspoon ground red pepper
- 1½ (6-inch) whole wheat pita, torn into large pieces
- 3 garlic cloves, chopped
- 4 large egg whites
- 16 ounces plain yogurt
- 1 medium cucumber
- Pinch kosher salt
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
- 6 mint leaves
- ⅓ cup crumbled feta cheese
- Pre-heat oven to 350 F.
- Thoroughly drain the chickpeas in a mesh strainer.
- Throw the first dozen ingredients (chickpeas through garlic) in a food processor. Pulse approximately ten times, or until the mixture is finely chopped and well combined.
- Briefly whisk the egg whites and mix into the chickpea mixture. Let it sit for 15 minutes to absorb.
- Grease a baking sheet and portion out into approximately 24 patties. The dough will be on the thin side, so don't fret if it doesn't hold its shape exactly.
- Bake for 10 minutes, or until lightly browned on the top.
- Serve with pita, tzatziki sauce, hot sauce, and veggies of your choice.
- If using non-Greek yogurt, suspend in a tea towel for 2 hours to let it drain.
- Skin, seed, and chop the cucumber. Gather in a tea towel and use your hands to squeeze out as much water as possible.
- Finely chop the garlic and mint.
- Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and season to taste with salt and pepper.