Monday, February 24, 2014

Mediterranean Falafel Salad


Welcome to "A Week of Salads"!

It's my week to show all of you out there in the cyber world that salads do not have to be bland, colorless, or unsatisfying. I subscribe to the theory that you don't have to be hungry in order to be healthy and/or maintain your weight. I've spent the last 6 months concentrating on eating whole foods, and less on eating processed, commercially prepared food. I've been making my own broths and stocks, salad dressings, sauces (like applesauce and jams), and in general, eating a lot of fruits and vegetables. And you know what? I've been feeling good.

Health nuts always tout the benefits they receive from eating better, much to the chagrin of the rest of the world. I used to roll my eyes at the thought of not eating frozen meals or HotPockets. But since I've been changing my diet, I have been feeling improved. My weight is easier to maintain, I have more energy, less headaches, sleep has improved, my skin has improved, etc. The benefits are numerous and they are just a fact. You will feel better if you eat carrots instead of potato chips. An apple instead of that HotPocket. No one wants to hear it, but it's simply an indisputable fact. Plus, I've discovered you can pretty much eat as many fruit and vegetables as your heart desires. Counting calories has fallen by the wayside.

There's my soapbox pitch for eating healthy and "A Week of Salads".  I'll climb down now. Back to the matter at hand :)


Falafel is one of those items that's been on my bucket list for awhile, and yet, I'd never tried it. I lived in Portland, OR (home to ANY kind of cuisine you can imagine) for 3 years, and I never climbed out of my box and tried this mediterranean specialty. Well, last week on Pinterest I saw a recipe for falafel and fate was decided. I would finally imbibe.

The results? Pretty favorable! Falafel is basically a seasoned mashup of chickpeas and a few other items which are shaped into a patty, and then pan-fried on the stove. It's an extremely economical dish, full of vitamins and antioxidants, and perfect for a Meatless Monday. You could actually make these patties, and eat them in a pita with tomato, lettuce, and tzatiki sauce. Another Meatless Monday idea perhaps?


Either way, I know "falafel" is a weird word and this recipe might be outside your comfort box. I urge you to shed your food shackles and put something completely foreign on the dinner table. You might even enjoy it :)

Happy Monday friends!


Ingredients (serves 4):

Tzatiki sauce-
1/2 cup Greek yogurt, plain
1/2 of a cucumber, shredded
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp salt
1 garlic clove, minced

Falafel-
1 (15 oz) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup red onion, roughly chopped
2 tbsp fresh parsley
2 tbsp fresh cilantro
4 garlic cloves, smashed
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
4 tbsp all-purpose flour
1/4 cup canola oil
kosher salt

Salad-
1 small head of romaine lettuce, chopped
1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
1/2 of cucumber, quartered and sliced
1 cup red onion rings
4 ounces feta, crumbled

Directions:

1. Prepare tzatiki- combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Whisk briskly to combine. Season to taste. Chill in fridge until ready to serve.
2. Prepare falafel- In a food processor, combine chickpeas through cayenne pepper. Pulse until mixture is combined, but still chunky. Add flour, and pulse. Take mixture into hand. Mixture should be easy to mold, and yet not stick to your hands. If the mixture is still sticky, pulse in up to 4 more tbsp of flour. Heat oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. When oil is hot, form chickpea mixture into patties and place in the hot oil. Pan fry on each side until golden brown, a total of about 4 minutes. Remove from oil and immediately sprinkle with kosher salt. Place on a paper towel to drain.
3. Prepare salad- In a large bowl, combine lettuce through feta. Pour enough tzatiki on salad to dress to taste, toss to combine. Divide salad among plates, place 2 falafel on each salad. Drizzle more tzatiki on falafels, if desired. Serve immediately.

Recipe adapted from Making Life Delicious

2 comments:

  1. As someone who is new to salads (only started last month) I am looking forward to these. And this one sounds amazing.

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    Replies
    1. I think you'll like this one Keith. This has become one of those recipes I keep on hand for a quick lunch. So good! :)

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