foodie fridays: baked falafels with cucumber-yogurt sauce

Do you remember the movie She’s All That?

The first time I watched the movie was in a theater. Remember physical theatres? I was 16 years-old and in love with Freddie Prinze, Jr. He was funny, charming, and drop dead gorgeous. I would have given my right arm to play the part of Rachel Leigh Cook (Laney Boggs) because she totally gets to make out with him at the end of the movie under a night sky filled with lights.

Sigh. I guess life had other plans for me.

Anyways, can you believe the movie is 13 years old? Yikes. One of my favorite quotes from the movie is the scene where Laney is working at the Falafel Palace (is that the name?) and an elderly gentleman can’t decide on the size of falafel balls he wants. While he is contemplating his order, she is pulled aside by Freddie Prinze, Jr because he is trying to ask her out. She ends up saying yes to get him to go away, and then goes right back to the counter to take the gentleman’s order….

Laney Boggs: “Sir, have you reached a decision?”
Elderly Gentleman: “Yes I have. Supersize my balls.”

Every time I watch that scene I die of laughter. Supersize. Balls. Hysterical. Who knew falafels could be so funny?

Today’s recipe reminds me of that scene. I had a craving last week for falafel that I just couldn’t shake, much like my feelings for Freddie Prinze, Jr. Wait, wha? I’ve never made falafels before so I did a little research and found out that you can bake them instead of fry!

The base of the falafel is chick peas or GARBANZO beans, which they should really be called, because I have never found the chick nor peas on the super market shelves. And breathe….

They take about a whole two seconds to make. Throw all the ingredients in a food processor, pulse until it thickens, then form into balls. You can supersize them if you’d like. Bake them for 15 minutes, and voila! Fresh, homemade falafel.

Of course I didn’t let the party stop there. Oh no. Besides the falafel, you can’t forget about the toppings. Red onion and tomatoes are the dependable go-to’s, but I decided to kick things up a notch by grilling some romaine lettuce to give it a nice smoky flavor. I also made a homemade cucumber-yogurt sauce that could turn someone full Greek with a simple lick of a spoon. What could be bad about that?

This recipe is quick and easy, and quite refreshing.

Now, what do you think about renaming the movie to, “Falafel’s All That?

Too much?

Yeah, definitely too much.

Baked Falafels with Cucumber-Yogurt Sauce 
(adapted from Can You Stay for Dinner? and All Recipes)

Serves 2 to 3

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients:
for the falafels:
1 can chickpeas
2 tablespoon all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons Italian parsley, chopped
2 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

for the grilled romaine:
3 hearts romaine, washed, cut in half
vegetable oil
salt and pepper

for the cucumber-yogurt sauce:
1 cup sour cream
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Half English cucumber, chopped
1 scallion, sliced
1 teaspoon white vinegar
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon oregano
Kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper

for the additional toppings:
red onion, julienned
tomatoes, chopped
pita

Directions: 
for the falafels:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine all ingredients in a food processor, pulse until well combined (should be thick). Form nine equal-sized patties and place on a greased baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and bake for about 15 to 18 minutes.

for the grilled romaine:
Preheat outside grill. Brush romaine stalks with vegetable oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill romaine five minutes on both sides until a golden brown.

for the cucumber-yogurt sauce:
Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Set in fridge for at least 3 hours or overnight.

to serve:
Place a spoonful of the cucumber-yogurt sauce on top of pita and spread. Top pita with 3 falafels, tomatoes, lettuce, and red onions. Serve immediately.