December 2, 2008

Falafel Pita with Tzatziki

I wanted to wait until I was sure the husband left work before I posted tonight's dinner. Historically, he is not a huge fan of Falafel. I say...too bad. Falafel is one of my all time favorites. On nights like tonight, I like to keep the hubby in the dark until the last possible moment. He will get home and I will be in full 'dinner' mode before he has time to protest about what we are having. I am a tricky little bird, aren't I????? I figured we don't have it all that often, so he can just deal.
I got some pre-prepared Falafel from Costco today, so I am excited to try them. I have made my own Falafel in the past, but why bother when you can just skip the prep work and buy 'em all ready to go? I am saving myself a huge step. Hopefully, they will be similar to homemade ones. I am going to make my own Tzatiki sauce (courtesy of Ina Garten), and I will serve my Falafel in pita bread (sandwich style). This is a fairly healthy vegetarian meal, which we really need after the Thanksgiving food fest we just had the past few days. I am really excited to eat tonight.

Falafel Pita

pita bread of your choice
2-3 falafel patties per sandwich (I am using pre-made)
lettuce of your choice (I like romaine or baby spinach)
sliced red onion
sliced tomato
sliced cucumber
Tzatziki sauce (recipe to follow)
Fresh cilantro (optional)

Cook Falafel according to package directions. Place in pita with other ingredients of your choice. Eat like a sandwich.


1 pound (1 pint) plain yogurt (whole milk or low fat)
1 hothouse cucumber, unpeeled and seeded
1 tablespoon plus 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon Champagne vinegar or white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (1 lemon)
1 tablespoon good olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh dill
Pinch freshly ground black pepper
diced red onion (optional)
Crumbled feta cheese (optional)

Place the yogurt in a cheesecloth or paper towel-lined sieve and set it over a bowl. Grate the cucumber and toss it with 1 tablespoon of kosher salt; place it in another sieve, and set it over another bowl. Place both bowls in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 hours so the yogurt and cucumber can drain.
Transfer the thickened yogurt to a large bowl. Squeeze as much liquid from the cucumber as you can and add the cucumber to the yogurt. Mix in the sour cream, vinegar, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, dill, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper. You can serve it immediately, but I prefer to allow the tzatziki to sit in the refrigerator for a few hours for the flavors to blend. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Jen's Notes:
You can use thicker Greek yogurt in place of the regular yogurt and skip the whole cheesecloth draining process. Also, you can add some crumbled Feta cheese for additional zing. Yum!

The Result:
This totally hit the spot! It was so yummy. Surprisingly, the husband really liked it too. I almost fainted! It had three ingredients that he usually does not like at all (cucumber, feta, Falafel), but for some reason, he really liked this combination. The pre-made Falafel were pretty good....not as good as homemade, but they were close. The best part was that they were super-easy. Just a reheat in the microwave and they were warmed through. The tzatziki was AWESOME! Again, super-easy and delicious...way better than store bought. We used whole wheat pita pockets, which were just okay. I think the package we got was a little stale. I have had better pita bread, for sure.

Here is a ringing two and a half year old son even loved this dish! He kept calling them "taco sandwiches" because the pita bread is reminiscent of a taco shell. He ate a whole one by himself. I think these Falafel pitas earn the 'kid-friendly' seal of approval.

Overall,this concoction was a totally satisfying, quick, and yummy meal. The best part was that it's pretty light and healthy, so I don't have any food guilt. Now I can go have a piece of chocolate without remorse!

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