Recipe: Falafel Pita Pockets + Vegan Tzatziki

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I’ve always been a huge fan of Mediterranean-style food, but never really had the chance to try making it on my own! When thinking of making a vegan version, it didn’t take me long to decide that I wanted to try making my own falafel. Falafel is generally made of chickpeas (or garbanzo beans if you prefer to call them that). The chickpeas are ground up and then seasoned with onions, garlic, cumin, and other seasonings. Fresh parsley is usually added as well, but I honestly hate the taste of it, so I used cilantro. 🙂  The mixture is then rolled into balls, and then fried and typically served with pita bread, and tzatziki sauce. Tzatziki is a lovely, creamy sauce usually made with yogurt, cucumbers, garlic, lemon juice, and other seasonings. I decided to simplify it a bit, and of course had to make some modifications, which you’ll see below. Here’s what I came up with for my recipe!

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FALAFEL PITA POCKETS + VEGAN TZATZIKI

FALAFEL INGREDIENTS:

  • Pita Bread (if you can’t find any that are vegan, here’s a recipe!)
  • 1 15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3/4 cup chopped onion
  • 2 Tbsp raw sesame seeds
  • 1 1/2 tsp cumin, plus more to taste
  • 1/4 tsp each sea salt and black pepper, plus more to taste
  • 3-4 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 3-4 Tbsp olive oil for cooking

TZATZIKI INGREDIENTS:

FILLING: chopped cucumbers and romaine lettuce, if desired.

 

PREPARATION:

1. Add chickpeas, cilantro, onion, sesame seeds, cumin, salt, pepper to a food processor or blender and mix/pulse to combine, scraping down sides as needed until mixed. You’re looking for a crumbly dough, not a paste.

2.  Add flour 1 Tbsp at a time and pulse/mix to combine until no longer wet and you can mold the dough into a ball without it sticking to your hands – I used 4 Tbsp.

3. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. I added a bit more salt, pepper, and a dash of cumin. You want the flavor to be pretty bold, so don’t be shy!

4. Transfer mixture into a bowl, cover and refrigerate for 1-2 hours to firm up.

5. Once chilled, scoop out rounded Tablespoon amounts.

6. Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add enough oil to generously coat the pan – about 2 Tbsp. Swirl to coat evenly.

7. Cook about 4-5 minutes, flipping when the underside is deep golden brown. Repeat until all falafels are browned – the deeper golden brown they are, the crispier they’ll be. They will also firm up more as they cool down.

8. Combine tzatziki ingredients and stir until blended. Spread the sauce into the pita pockets, and fill with falafels, romaine, and cucumber.

Makes 4 servings.

 

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