Thursday, May 26, 2011

Falafels with Fresh Tzatziki

I really have to give my family credit.  They have become pretty daring when it comes to food.  I say that because these falafels are really different than most of the meals I make.  But they are different in a good way.  First of all, they're meatless, which is good.  Second, the flavors and textures are unusual.  Before they're cooked they look a little like, well, I won't say because its not polite, but once they're fried, they are fabulous.  Crispy on the outside and soft in the middle.  Combine them with fresh Tzatziki and you have a real winner.  These are so easy, delicious and filling that you won't even notice that there isn't any meat.

These are usually served with pitas, but tomorrow I'll share the recipe for the delicious Soft Wrap Bread I made to go with them.

**This recipe uses a food processor.**

Falafels with Fresh Tzatziki
Serves about 6

1 can chickpeas (drained)
1/2 yellow onion, roughly chopped (about 1 cup)
2 Tbs. fresh parsley
2 Tbs. fresh cilantro
1 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
4 cloves of garlic
1 tsp. cumin

1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 c.+ flour
vegetable oil for frying

1 recipe of Soft Wrap Bread (or store bought pitas-- If you're in a pinch)
English cucumber slices, quartered
tomato, diced
shredded romaine lettuce
1/2 red onion, sliced paper thin
Tzatziki sauce
Place chickpeas and onions in a food processor. Pulse until almost smooth. Add the parsley, cilantro, salt, red pepper, garlic, and cumin. Process until well-blended but not pureed.

Remove chickpea mixture and place in a bowl. Sprinkle in the baking powder and flour, and gently mix. Add enough flour so that the dough can form a small ball without being too sticky. Refrigerate, covered, while you heat the oil and chop the veggies. Mixture can easily be made several hours ahead of time.

Using a small cookie dough scoop sprayed with Pam, form the chickpea mixture into balls about the size of walnuts (you should have about 16-18 balls). Flatten between greased hands, until each ball becomes a 3 inch circle.

Heat 2 inches of oil to 350 degrees in a deep pan (I always use a candy thermometer to make sure my oil temperature stays consist ant) and fry 1 ball to test. If it falls apart, add a little flour. Then fry about 5 balls at a time for a few minutes on each side, or until golden brown. Drain on paper towels and sprinkle with salt.

Stuff warm pita bread with 2-3 falafel balls and all vegetable toppings. Add a generous amount of tzatziki and serve hot.

Tzatziki Sauce

16 oz. plain yogurt (not fat free unless it is Oikos or Fage or another Greek-type yogurt)
1/2 hothouse cucumber or 1 regular cucumber, peeled and seeded (I used 1/2 of an English cucumber)
2-3 cloves garlic, pressed through a garlic press (or finely minced)
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper
Squeeze of fresh lemon juice
Extra virgin olive oil

Strain the yogurt using cheesecloth or a fine mesh strainer over a bowl. Let strain for several hours or overnight, if possible, to remove as much moisture as possible. (You won’t believe how much liquid drains from the yogurt – it makes the yogurt much thicker and creamier. If you want to splurge on Greek yogurt, like Oikos or Fage, you won’t need to strain it like this.)

Shred the cucumber. Wrap in a towel a squeeze to remove as much water as possible. Mix together the strained yogurt, shredded cucumber, garlic, red wine vinegar, salt and pepper to taste, and lemon juice. Drizzle lightly with olive oil. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving to allow the flavors to meld.

Source:  Falafels from On My Menu
Tzatziki from Mel's Kitchen Cafe

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