The other night at dinner, I ordered falafel for the first time.
I’ve always avoided falafel subconsciously, assuming it was strictly “vegan food” and I should just stick with my grilled chicken. Oh how I was wrong. After the first bite, I was instantly hooked. It tasted FRESH and healthy, but dense and filling at the same time. The texture was a perfect amount of chewy-gooey with a slight crunch on the outside. YUM.
Since then, I’ve been on this weird falafel kick where I actually seek out restaurants that serve falafel, just so I can try different versions of this deliciously-strange hipster food.
Falafel is a middle-eastern food made from ground chickpeas, spices and fresh herbs. When you add some cool, cucumber-infused tzatziki sauce, fresh tomatoes and crumbled feta, these falafel pitas become small bites of heaven. These are especially good when you make homemade pita bread to pile all these delicious toppings on. For the pitas, just follow the usual recipe, but divide the dough into 12-16 pieces rather than 6-8 for “bite-sized” pitas…because anything bite-sized is that much cuter, right?
This recipe makes a lot of falafel. Like I’m talking 24 baby falafel bites that will slowly win over your heart. This is great when you invite all your friends over for a falafel-eating festival, however if you’re just looking for a simple dinner for you and your significant other, I promise you, you will have leftovers.
But, never fear. These keep well in the fridge (or freezer) and can be used for lunch the next day. Throw some quinoa, lettuce or brown rice in a bowl, warm up a few of those little falafels and you have yourself a delicious lunch that totally beats your usual turkey sandwich. Because, let’s be honest…the Greeks know what they’re doing when it comes to food.
- 2 cups white onion, diced
- 2 tsp. crushed garlic cloves
- 2 ½ cups cooked chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- ½ cup lightly packed parsley leaves
- 1 heaping cup cilantro leaves
- 1 tsp. salt
- ¼ tsp. chili powder
- 2 tsp. cumin
- 3 tsp. lemon juice
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- Olive or canola oil, for sautéing
- Salt for seasoning
- 2 cups plain Greek yogurt
- 1 heaping tsp. minced garlic
- 1 cucumber, peeled and grated (about 1 cup)
- 1 Tbsp. fresh dill, chopped (Make sure it’s fresh, not dried!)
- 1-2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice, to taste
- 1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
- ½ tsp. sea salt
- ¼ tsp. freshly-ground black pepper
- Store-bought or homemade pita bread
- Feta cheese
- Cherry tomatoes, sliced
- Cucumbers, peeled and sliced
- Make the tzatziki sauce by combining all ingredients in a blender and process until smooth. Place in the refrigerator to chill.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
- Place the diced onion, garlic, chickpeas, parsley, cilantro, salt, chili powder, cumin and lemon juice into a food processor or clean blender and pulse until mixed, but not pureed.
- Add the baking powder and ½ cup flour and pulse together. Continue adding flour until the mixture begins to become firm and not sticky.
- Transfer the mixture to a bowl, cover and refrigerate for at least one hour.
- Once the falafel mixture has chilled, use an ice cream scoop to separate about 3 Tbsp. of mixture into balls.
- In a large skillet pan, heat a oil over medium heat. (Use enough oil so that the entire pan is well coated.) Once the pan is pre-heated, add a falafel ball one at a time, browning for about 1 minute on each side. (See notes)
- Transfer the falafel to a baking sheet and immediately season them with salt.
- Cook for 10-15 minutes, until cooked through. Make sure to not overcook, or they will become tough.
- Lay out the pita bread on a flat surface and spoon a generous amount of tzatziki sauce onto each one. Spread until it covers the pita. Arrange the cucumbers, sliced tomatoes, and a falafel bite on the pita and top with crumbled feta cheese and more tzatziki if desired.
- Serve immediately.
*Browning the falafel before baking is an optional step, but it does enhance the flavor and texture. If you'd rather skip this step, just brush some oil onto the raw falafel balls before baking. Bake for 5 minutes, flip the falafel over, brush with oil and continue baking until cooked through. Season with salt immediately after you take them out of the oven.
Want to know what we made along with these Greek Falafel Pita Bites? Check out our full Greek Dinner menu!