Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Falafel Pita Sandwich with Yogurt Sauce

Not a week goes by that me and the hubs DON'T talk about our favorite places to eat in Ohio.  We haven't lived there for 2 1/2 years, and honestly we had so many favorite places and still crave them constantly!  One of these restaurants was 5 minutes down the road...the Olive Tree.  The first time we went was when I was in the really sick-y stages of pregnancy and did not love it.  Later on down the road I decided to give it another chance and seriously became obsessed.  We ate there at least 2 weekends a month, if not more.  We loved their shawarma, gyros, spicy feta, hummus, and tzatziki sauce to name a few.  My fav was definitely the falafel.  Falafel sandwich, salad, or straight up as an appetizer.  I have yet to find a place that makes Mediterranean food like the Olive Tree.
 I finally got the nerve to try making some myself.  Over the weekend we saw an episode of "Guys Big Bite" where he was making these, and I knew I just had to try!  My hubby has a deep-fryer, which makes cooking these a snap! 

And have you ever looked at the ingredients of falafel?  Beans, veggies, great for you!  (minus the frying part :)  This sandwich offers up more than half your day's worth of recommended fiber, so eat up!  Perfect choice for a Meatless Monday.  These really were so, so good!

Falafel Pita Sandwich with Yogurt Sauce

2 tablespoons canola oil, plus extra for frying
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 large red bell pepper, chopped
5 cloves garlic, chopped
2 (14-ounce) cans chick peas, drained
1 teaspoon red chili flakes
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 egg
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
5 tablespoons flour
2 cups freshly chopped parsley leaves
3/4 cup freshly chopped cilantro leaves
Pitas, for sandwich
Toppings: shredded lettuce and chopped tomato, sliced cucumbers
Yogurt Dipping Sauce, recipe follows

Yogurt Dipping Sauce:

1 cup plain yogurt
1/2 tablespoon lemon zest
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon freshly chopped cilantro leaves
2 teaspoons freshly chopped parsley leaves
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
Kosher salt, as needed

In medium skillet over medium heat, add 2 tablespoons oil and sweat onion and peppers 2 to 3 minutes then garlic and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes.

In a food processor, pulse together chick peas, red chili flakes, ground cumin, the egg, salt and black pepper to form a coarse consistency. Then add flour, parsley, and cilantro. Pulse until mixture starts pulling from the sides of the food processor.

Remove mixture to a large bowl and mix in the onion mixture. Chill falafel until ready to cook.

Roll falafel dough into 1-inch rounds. Then form rounds into an oblong quenelle shape, like a football.

In a thick-bottomed skillet heat 1/2 inch of canola oil over medium heat to 350 degrees F. Cook falafel balls a few at a time, until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Be sure to turn them so they do not burn or stick to the bottom of the pan. Drain on paper towels and sprinkle with salt while still hot.

Open the pita bread to make pockets. Place 3 to 4 falafels inside. Stuff with lettuce tomato and cucumbers and drizzle sauce generously on the inside. Serve immediately.

Yogurt Dipping Sauce:
Mix the yogurt, lemon zest, lemon juice, cilantro, parsley and cumin together in a small bowl. Add salt to taste. Chill until ready to use.

Yield: 1 cup

Recipe Source: Food Network

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