Happy Monday, folks! Hopefully your week is off to a better start than mine. This morning began with an intention of a great attitude, but when I got to school and realized I left my lunch on the counter, that noble aspiration dashed away. Add typical Monday readjustments and the “what goes up must come down” folly of having a great weekend, today was not my favorite. I did, however, manage to find some shoes and jewelry for this weekend’s Taste of the Arts: Studio 54 event, and my day was mostly salvaged by taking some time to cook in my kitchen. I did some meal prep yesterday when I was putting together my lunches, so this afternoon was met with only a few tasks before supper was on the table.
Falafel is a delightful Middle Eastern street food in which many vegetarians and omnivores delight. Usually made with chickpeas, these beany balls of fried goodness are best enjoyed wrapped in a pita or on their own with a side of tangy tzatziki sauce. For a southern twist, I used butter beans and lady peas (same mixture as the salad from this week’s lunches) in place of the chickpeas, and it worked beautifully. This falafel is full of similar flavors from the traditional take: tahini paste, lemon juice, fresh mint and parsley, and of course, garlic. They are fried in vegetable oil, drained, then tucked into pita pockets with lots of crisp romaine lettuce, ruby red farm tomatoes, thinly sliced cucumber and radishes, salty feta, fresh parsley, and drizzled with tzatziki. Check out this lovely mise en place I did before I dressed the pitas:
These pitas are so filling that you’ll think you cheated at Meatless Monday! They’re also very easy to make. Don’t let the deep frying intimidate you; because the falafel balls are pre-cooked and aren’t meat, you won’t have to worry about cooking the meat to a specific temperature. All you’ll need to watch is the golden brown exterior that looks like it will give your falafel a nice crunch on the outside.
Butter Bean Falafel Pitas
Serves 2-4 people
1 1/2 cups cooked butter beans
2 Tbsp. tahini paste
juice of 1 lemon
1/2 cup fresh parsley
1/4 cup fresh mint
5 garlic cloves, paper removed
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
about 1/3 cup flour
32 oz. canola or vegetable oil
4 pita pockets
1 small tomato, sliced
2 radishes, thinly sliced (sub red onion if you like)
1/4 of one English/hothouse/seedless cucumber, thinly sliced
4-8 leaves of romaine lettuce
2-4 oz. feta, crumbled
any additional fresh parsley
for tzatziki sauce: 4 garlic cloves, 1/4 of one English/hothouse/seedless cucumber, 1/3 cup fresh parsley, 1 cup 0% Greek yogurt, juice of 1 lemon, 1/2 tsp. salt
In a food processor, combine butter beans, tahini paste, garlic, lemon juice, parsley, mint, salt, and pepper until a dough forms. Remove mixture from the food processor and form about 16 golf ball sized balls. Place falafel balls on a plate, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight.
When you’re ready to cook the falafel, heat oil in a deep, heavy bottomed pot over medium-high heat. While the oil is heating, roll the falafel in the flour to coat them. When the oil is ready, drop about four falafel balls in per batch and cook until golden brown (about 4 minutes for each batch). Place cooked falafel on a paper towel-lined plate.
In the meantime, combine tzatziki ingredients together in a food processor to combine.
To assemble the pitas, tuck 1-2 romaine leaves into each pocket, then dress with a few slices of tomato, cucumber, radish, and parsley. Place about 3 falafel balls in each pocket, then sprinkle with feta and drizzle with tzatziki. Enjoy!