I want to take pictures of flowers and cake. But there are no flowers. There are only dry chickpeas and healthy “lifestyle changes.” We’re still knee-deep in snow and it’s still coming down, no end in sight. The thrill of holidays is long over and while it may be easier for some people to prepare themselves for bikini season as their states warm up, I’m still in insulate-my-body-or-freeze-to-death mode. Considering my love for baking and my CONSTANT desire to make sweet treats, I’ve done very well the last few months. We’ve eaten a lot of vegetables. But vegetables alone are not enough. I am not one who can subsist on salad. So in comes: legumes! They have been a hearty, healthy, winter life-saver. They’re an amazing way to add fiber and protein to your diet, and if you’re on a budget, you can almost always buy them dry for a fraction of the price (Just soak ’em overnight and boil until tender). Also, if you’re able to utilize the bulk section of your grocery store, then you’ll be doing the environment a favor as well.
Just a note, life hack, whatever: if your grocery store doesn’t allow you to bring your own containers (my local Fredmeyer’s does not), then just re-use the plastic bags! Yup, it’s that simple. I just use the plastic bags the store provides, then bring them home and empty the contents out into their proper containers, label the bags, and bring them with me the next time I go shopping. I usually save the twist-ties as well and reuse them for closing chip bags or bread.
Back to the falafel. This is pretty much the most filling vegetarian sandwich out there. (Is a pita a sandwich? Yes.) Heck, maybe the most filling sandwich, period. It’s packed with middle-eastern flavor and tons of freshness from the accompanying veggies. Also, this lemony, creamy, nutty spread is pretty much to die for. And it’s super easy to veganize if you just nix the yogurt. Traditional falafel is fried, and I’m not going to lie to you and say that this recipe is better than any of the fried stuff out there. I’m a real person who has eaten fried food and I know nothing beats that. But this IS pretty darn good, and it’s very healthy. The pitas in these pictures are made with regular white flour for aesthetic purposes, but if you really want to pack in the nutrients, you may want to opt with a whole wheat or alternate whole grain pita.
Also, pretend that there’s a tomato in the sandwich in these pictures… we only had one and my husband ate it. Ofc.
baked spinach falafel pitas with lemon yogurt tahini sauce
For the Falafels:
2.5 c. cooked chickpeas
1 c. loosely packed spinach
1 c. very loosely packed cilantro
1 T ground cumin
1/2 t. salt (add more to taste after blending)
about 1/3 of a red onion, chopped
3-5 cloves of garlic (to taste)
1/2 small jalapeno, roughly chopped
pinch chili or cayenne pepper, if desired
Place all ingredients in a blender and pulse until the mixture is crumbly and fine, and there are no large chunks of any ingredient. You don’t want to fully blend it into a paste, just almost a paste.
Preheat oven to 375.
Wet hands (so the mixture doesn’t stick) and form 2 inch patties on a parchment-lined baking tray. Bake for twenty minutes, then carefully flip each patty over (they may be quite fragile and still fairly soft at this stage). Bake for another 20-25 minutes or until golden brown on both sides and holding shape. Let cool and store in airtight container, or serve immediately.
For the Sauce:
1/4 c. plain Greek yogurt
1/4 c. Tahini
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
pinch of salt
Whisk all ingredients together in a small bowl, store in refrigerator or use immediately.
To assemble Pitas:
1 ripe tomato, sliced
1/2 cucumber, sliced thinly
1/4 of a red onion, sliced thinly
1 c. sprouts or microgreens
Lemon yogurt tahini sauce
Slice both pitas open and spread a liberal amount of lemon yogurt sauce on the inside, top and bottom. Line the inside with cucumber slices, tomato slices, and onion, add the falafel and fill remaining space with sprouts or microgreens.