Recipes

Falafel Pitas

One of my absolute favorite things to eat is a falafel pita. Crunchy balls of crispy falafel, topped with cool, crisp veggies, all dressed up with fresh & creamy tzatziki. There are a lot of really great places to get one, but I love trying to make my favorite foods at home. I’ve bought the frozen falafel from Trader Joe’s before & I love them, but I wanted to try making them from scratch! There are two types of falafel, the traditional style which are fried, or a healthier option, which are baked.

Initially I wanted to fry my falafel because nothing beats that crunch you get when frying them. At first, I made my falafel into patty shapes to shallow fry them because I am not a fan of deep frying, it’s just way to much of a mess.  but after the first attempt, I realized this was not going to work. Maybe I had the oil at the wrong temp, or didn’t cook them long enough. Either way, they did not come out as planned!

That’s the fun part of cooking at home, you get to try new things & adapt to what works best for you & yields the best result. So I quickly realized frying the falafel was not working & decided to bake them instead. Spoiler alert, they were still delicious!

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The first step to delicious homemade falafel? Make tzatziki from scratch. It’s really easy to throw together using very common ingredients (many of which you probably already have) & really elevates this dish. Tzatziki is a yogurt based sauce that goes great with falafel, chicken, gyros & basically anything else. You won’t have any trouble getting through the leftovers & it keeps great in the fridge. Start by scooping the yogurt into a bowl. Then add in the cucumber, garlic, lemon juice, salt & pepper. Stir to combine & let it rest in the fridge. The longer it sets, the more delicious it will be! I let mine sit for the amount of time it took to get dinner on the table & it was great. If you have the time to assemble it earlier in the day, by all means, go for it!

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Falafel time! This mix comes together insanely easily using a food processor. Start by combining the chickpeas, parsley, cilantro & mint. Pulse until it begins to come together.

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Next comes the flavor! To the chickpeas, add paprika, coriander, cumin, garlic & baking soda. Mix on high until all ingredients are combined. Add salt & pepper to taste.

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Spoon mixture into a bowl & let it rest for 20-30 minutes before forming. While the mix is resting, prepare the rest of the ingredients for your pitas. I like to top mine with lettuce, tomato, pickles, red onion & cucumber. I chopped up all my veggies & set them aside so they’re ready to use when the falafel come out of the oven.

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To bake the falafel, form them into small balls & place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment. Bruch the tops with olive oil & bake the falafel in a 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes, until the outside becomes crisp & the inside is still tender.

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When the falafel come out of the oven let them rest for a few minutes while you heat your pitas & gather your toppings.

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Dress up your pitas to your liking & boom! Not too difficult right?

Falafel Pitas

Prep time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 85 minutes
Servings: 20-23 falafel (depending on the size)

Ingredients: 

Tzatziki-

  • 1 1/2 cups greek yogurt
  • 1 cup grated cucumber, drained of all liquid
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced or pressed
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • salt & pepper, to taste

Falafel-

  • 2 cans of chickpeas, drained
  • 1/2 cup parsley
  • 1/2 cup cilantro
  • 1/4 cup mint leaves
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 2 teaspoons coriander
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 5 cloves of garlic
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • oil, for brushing onto falafel

For serving-

  • pita bread
  • lettuce
  • tomato
  • pickles
  • red onion
  • cucumber

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Start by scooping the yogurt into a bowl. Then add in the cucumber, garlic, lemon juice, salt & pepper. Stir to combine & let it rest in the fridge.
  3. In a food processor, start by combining the chickpeas, parsley, cilantro & mint. Pulse until it begins to come together.
  4. To the chickpeas, add paprika, coriander, cumin, garlic & baking soda. Mix on high until all ingredients are combined. Add salt & pepper to taste.
  5. Spoon mixture into a bowl & let it rest for 20-30 minutes before forming. While the mix is resting, prepare the rest of the ingredients for your pitas.
  6. To bake the falafel, form them into small balls & place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment. Bruch the tops with olive oil & bake the falafel for about 30 minutes, until the outside becomes crisp & the inside is still tender.
  7. When the falafel come out of the oven let them rest for a few minutes while you heat your pitas & gather your toppings.
  8. Dress up your pitas to your liking & boom!
Recipes

Creamy Mushroom Pasta

It’s meatless Monday once again! This week I opted for a simpler take on a meatless dish and went with a vegetarian classic. This dish utilizes mushrooms as its main source of protein.

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Creamy Mushroom Pasta is a one-pot meal that comes together in the time it takes to boil some pasta! What else could you want on a Monday night? It’s filling, creamy & cheesy!

As I mentioned in a previous post, mushrooms are a fantastic meat substitute & they pair wonderfully with pasta. When they’re tossed in cream they reach a new level of delicious.

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Cover the whole mess with parmesan cheese & you’ve got yourself an insanely delicious meal! I served this up with some French bread & a delicious crisp white wine.

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Check out Girl Gone Gourmet for the full recipe!

Recipes

Lentil Soup

In my efforts to put a meatless dinner on the table every week, I have been researching & trying out new forms of protein. I work with beans a lot because there are so many different varieties that they can be used in almost any cuisine. I also use mushrooms a lot because they give a dish a real meatiness that can be lacking in vegetarian foods. Another ingredient I have been really excited to work with lately is lentils. They are also very versatile and work with a lot of different cuisines. I’ve used the cooked lentils from Trader Joe’s in salads & wraps but I was curious about using lentils that have not been pre-cooked.

Enter, lentil soup. It’s something I grew up eating out of a can & ordered frequently when I saw it on restaurant menus. I was excited to try making lentil soup from scratch. When researching recipes to figure out exactly how to put the soup together I realized quickly this was going to be an easy dish. You basically sauté some veggies, throw in lentils, diced tomatoes & a few spices, then let the stove do all the work. Sounds good to me!

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Start by gathering all of your ingredients & heating a large pot with 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium high heat.

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Next you want to prep the lentils. Just rinse them under cold water & let them dry slightly while the oil heats up.

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Once the oil it hot, cook onions, celery & carrots until they start to soften & onions become translucent, about 6-7 minutes. Season with salt & pepper.

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Once veggies have cooked, throw in the lentils, diced tomatoes & spices. Stir to combine.

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Next, add the broth & bring the whole mixture to a boil. Once boiling, reduce to simmer & cook, covered, for about 40 minutes, until lentils are tender.

I served my lentil soup with cheese toasts. To prepare the toasts, slice the baguette on a diagonal into a few pieces then spread them with softened butter. Divide the cheese among the toasts & broil until cheese is melted & bubbling.

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Once the toasts are ready, let them sit for a few minutes before serving up.

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While the toasts are resting, finish the soup. You can serve it up as is, if you like the texture, but I like my soups to be a little thicker so I used my immersion blender & blended about 1/3 of the soup so it had a thicker consistency, but still had a good number of whole lentils.

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Serve up with the toasts & a sprinkling of parmesan cheese & enjoy!

 

Lentil Soup

Ingredients: 

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped carrot
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped celery
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 pound lentils, picked and rinsed
  • 1 cup peeled and chopped tomatoes
  • 2 quarts chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground toasted cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon herbs de Provence
  • half a large baguette
  • 2-3 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1/3-1/2 cup Gruyère cheese, shredded

For the full recipe, visit Food Network