Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Falafel Pita Pockets

I really, truly, deeply wanted to call this post "Totally Amazing Homemade Falafels." I always back off from things like that though because I might be biased. But with this not-so-humble-brag, I guess the cat is out of the bag now.


Ahem. OK. Let us talk about one of my most beloved foods on this earth. That food is FALAFEL. I think I first discovered these vegetarian gems at Pick Pockets in Smithfield, RI while I was at Bryant University. Pick Pockets is a very modest counter within a gas station convenience store that made the most perfect falafel pita pockets. If for whatever random reason you find yourself in Rhode Island, do yourself a favor and go here! I. Was. Obsessed.

And from then on, I was HOOKED on all things falafel. Falafel is quite simply pulsed chickpeas mashed together with amazing flavors and spices and breadcrumbs, formed into balls or patties and fried to golden perfection. You can eat falafel in all sorts of ways--on salads, as an appetizer or snack, or--my personal favorite--wrapped up in a pita with all the fixin's.

These Falafel Pita Pockets are just that. Simple and delicious homemade falafel patties wrapped up in warm pitas with a cucumber yogurt sauce, lettuce, tomato, cucumbers and feta cheese. Feta makes everything betta!

Yes, yes. I know. I am a wizard with words.

For a while I reserved falafel for the professionals. Why I was doing this, I have no idea. Homemade falafels are so easy to pull together and the taste and texture is out of this world. These are a regular in our dinner rotation and will be for a long time.

Here's what you need for Falafel Pita Pockets* (Print Recipe!)

1 14.5 ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon ground cumin
pinch red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest
1 egg
2 tablespoons all purpose flour, plus more for sprinkling
drizzle extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
4 pita pockets
1 8 ounce package plain non-fat greek yogurt
juice of 1 lemon
1 cucumber, julienned
thinly sliced lettuce, chopped tomatoes, and crumbled feta for serving
canola oil for frying

Here's what you do

In a food processor, pulse the chickpeas until crumbled but not pureed. Add to a large mixing bowl along with the cilantro, breadcrumbs, cumin, red pepper, lemon zest, egg, flour and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and mix until totally combined. Line a small baking sheet with parchment paper.

Form the mixture into 12 flat rounds, about 1/2 inch thick and 1 to 2 inches wide. Place the patties on the baking sheet and sprinkle with just a little bit of extra flour. Chill in the freezer for at least 10 minutes up to one half hour.

Add canola oil to a sturdy frying pan just until it completely covers the bottom of the pan in a thin layer. Warm over medium heat. The oil is ready when you splash a few drops of water into the pan and they bubble and sizzle almost immediately. You want to be sure the oil is nice and hot so that the patties do not get soggy and start to fall apart. (See Note)

Fry falafel patties in batches until golden brown, about 2 minutes on each side. Drain the oil off on the parchment paper.

In the meantime, wrap the pitas in tinfoil. Warm in a 350 degree oven for about 10 minutes. Wrapping them in foil will steam them and make them nice and flexible for your wraps.

Mix the yogurt with about 1/4 of the cucumber and the lemon juice. Smear a generous amount of the yogurt on the bottom of a pita and place 3 falafels on top. Add on some lettuce, tomato, cucumber, and feta cheese. Roll up and enjoy!

Note: You can also bake the falafels to cut back on the oil content. Just place the patties on top of a wire rack on a baking sheet sprayed with non-stick spray. Spray the top of the patties with a bit of the non-stick spray as well. Bake at 425 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes, flipping halfway through.

*Gas Stove Girl original recipe

1 comment:

  1. I must take issue with your assertion that "Feta makes everything better". Falafels are ordinarily a vegan food and they do not need dairy products added on to them.

    Cows produce milk for the same reason that humans do: to nourish their young. In order to force the animals to continue giving milk, factory farm operators typically impregnate them using artificial insemination every year. Calves are generally taken from their mothers within a day of being born—males are destined for veal crates or barren lots where they will be fattened for beef, and females are sentenced to the same fate as their mothers.

    After their calves are taken away from them, mother cows are hooked up, several times a day, to milking machines. These cows are genetically manipulated, artificially inseminated, and often drugged to force them to produce about four and a half times as much milk as they naturally would to feed their calves.

    Animals are often dosed with bovine growth hormone (BGH), which contributes to a painful inflammation of the udder known as “mastitis.” (BGH is used widely in the U.S. but has been banned in Europe and Canada because of concerns over human health and animal welfare.)According to the industry’s own figures, between 30 and 50 percent of dairy cows suffer from mastitis, an extremely painful condition.

    A cow’s natural lifespan is about 25 years, but cows used by the dairy industry are killed after only four or five years. An industry study reports that by the time they are killed, nearly 40 percent of dairy cows are lame because of the intensive confinement, the filth, and the strain of being almost constantly pregnant and giving milk. Dairy cows’ bodies are turned into soup, companion animal food, or low-grade hamburger meat because their bodies are too “spent” to be used for anything else.

    Please consider a vegan diet for the animals, your health and the planet!