Mediterranean style food is one of my favorite cuisines. It’s fresh, flavorful, and easy to incorporate into a vegetarian lifestyle. It also tends to be really healthy by focusing on plant-based foods and lean proteins. A perfect example is this Falafel with Pita & Tzatziki. Although falafel is fried, I always use grapeseed oil and it doesn’t even absorb very much. The chickpeas and tzatziki provide a good source of vegetarian protein and the pita bread uses whole wheat bread flour for a hearty, wholesome carbohydrate. Top everything off with a drizzle of tahini to get a rich, nutty flavor!
The falafel is made using dried chickpeas, onion, garlic, fresh herbs, cumin, and Celtic sea salt. The chickpeas do need to soak overnight, so be sure to plan ahead for making this recipe. After soaking, the ingredients are combined in a food processor and formed into balls about the size of ping-pong balls.
I’m not a fan of deep-frying anything. Falafel and French-fried onions (for green bean casserole) are the only things I ever fry and I make sure to use expellar-pressed grapeseed oil. Often times, oil is extracted from the seed using chemical solvents which means there could be hexane residue left over. Expellar-pressing oil does not use these chemicals, so you get a purer product.
I only use about 1/2 inch of oil in my saucepan and gently flip each falafel as it browns. You could also bake falafel or put it in a waffle iron to make falafel-waffles! These won’t have the same satisfying crunch as the fried version, but they will still be delicious.
Whole Wheat Pita Bread
Pita bread is a perfect side for falafel and is also super easy to make at home. Skip the store bought stuff and make these delicious, soft flat-breads from scratch! All you need is water, olive oil, sugar, salt, yeast, and whole wheat bread flour.
Combine the ingredients, knead for eight to ten minutes with a dough hook and stand mixer (or by hand) and let the dough rise for and one and a half hours. Then, divide the dough into ten balls and roll them out on a lightly floured surface. Let the pitas rest for 20 minutes while the oven preheats to 500 degrees. Bake each pita for four and half minutes. They should be puffed up when ready. See the recipe below for detailed instructions. Enjoy!
Tzatziki is a delicious Greek dip/sauce/spread made with a base of Greek yogurt and shredded cucumbers and flavored with lemon and dill. The recipe I use is from Cookie + Kate and I definitely recommend checking out her blog!
The dip is so easy to make and is a great addition alongside falafel and pita bread. All you have to do is grate the cucumber (and squeeze out the extra water) and mix it with Greek yogurt, olive oil, dill, lemon juice, garlic and sea salt. Give it a good stir and it’s ready to go! It’s fresh, flavorful, and a great source of lean protein!
Shopping List for Falafel with Pita & Tzatziki
Here’s everything you’ll need the make the Falafel with Pita & Tzatziki. Follow the links to find the dry goods and Thrive Market!
- Dried chickpeas
- Celtic sea salt
- Expellar-pressed grapeseed oil
- Whole wheat bread flour
- Olive oil
- Plain Greek yogurt
Fresh Vegan Falafel
- 1 pound dried chickpeas
- 1 medium onion chopped
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- ½ cup fresh parsley chopped
- ¼ cup fresh basil chopped
- ¼ cup fresh cilantro chopped
- 2 tsp Celtic sea salt
- 2 tsp cumin
- Expellar-pressed grapeseed oil for frying
- Pour the chickpeas into a large bowl and cover with water. Let soak overnight. As they absorb water, it may be necessary to top off the bowl.
- Drain the chickpeas and set aside.
- In a food processor, blitz the onion, garlic, parsley, basil, and cilantro for a few pulses. Add the chickpeas, salt, and cumin. Continue to chop until all the ingredients are coarsely blended together. It should look reminiscent of couscous.
- Place the mixture in a bowl, cover, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- Shape the falafel into balls about 1 inch in diameter and set aside on a plate.
- In a small saucepan, add the grapeseed oil until it is about ½ inch to 1 inch deep. Heat the oil until it reaches 375°. (My thermometer won’t go past 300°, so I just wait another minute after it maxes out.)
- Place a few falafel balls into the oil (3-6 at a time) and cook until the bottom gets golden brown (about 1-2 minutes). Then flip the balls and cook for another 1-2 minutes to brown the other side. Place on a plate lined with paper towels and lightly sprinkle with salt. Repeat with the remaining falafel and add more oil as necessary.
Whole Wheat Pita Bread
- 1 cup water 70-75°F
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 Tbsp sugar
- 2 ¼ tsp yeast
- 3 cup whole wheat bread flour
- 1 ½ tsp Celtic sea salt
- In a large stand-mixer bowl, combine the water, oil, sugar, and yeast.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the salt and flour. Gradually add it to the liquid mixture.
- Place the bowl on the mixer and using the dough hook, mix for a minute to bring the dough together. Scrape down the sides with a spatula and make sure all the ingredients are incorporated.
- Continue mixing for another 8 minutes on medium-low. The dough should be smooth and elastic when finished.
- Lightly line a bowl with olive oil and place the dough in the bowl. Cover and let rise in a warm location for about 90 minutes.
- When the dough has doubled in size, lightly flour a work surface surface and divide the dough into 10 balls. Roll each one out to be about ¼-⅛ of an inch thick.
- Preheat the oven to 500°F and cover the pitas to rest for 20 minutes. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
- Place 5 pitas on the baking sheet and bake for 4 ½ minutes. They should be puffed up when ready.
- Transfer the pitas to a cooling rack and repeat with the remaining pitas.