Dish: Falafel Pita Pockets
Good for: Lunch or dinner on a warm spring/summer day
Shopping List: 2 cans chickpeas $1.78; 3 scallions $0.35; 2 large cloves garlic $0.10; 1/4 cup parsley $0.75; 1 egg $0.50; 1 lemon $0.75; 1 cucumber $0.99; 1 cup plain yogurt $1.29; pita pockets $2.99
Pantry Items: Ground cumin, cayenne pepper, salt, pepper, flour, baking powder
Total Cost: $9.50
When I lived in New York City for a summer to work an unpaid internship, my meals suddenly had strict guidelines. If you’ve ever been in the city during summertime, you know that walking a few blocks in 90-degree weather is like strolling through the fiery depths of hell. In such unbearable heat, heavy meals are a big no no. I needed something that wouldn’t weigh me down, but still satisfied my hunger. I also wanted something quick and portable, that I could grab and eat under a tree in Central Park during my short lunch break. But most importantly, I had to find something super cheap.
I found my perfect meal in a falafel pita pocket from Maoz. Falafel patties are packed with fiber from chickpeas, which fill you up without making you sluggish and the parsley in the patties and cucumber garnish give a cooling, fresh flavor that keeps you light on your feet. The pita pocket makes it easy to eat on-the-go, and best of all, every ingredient is seriously inexpensive.
Sadly, I no longer live near a Maoz location, but I found an easy recipe to make fresh falafel right in my own kitchen. The original recipe tells you to use a food processor, but I made the falafel paste in two batches in my Magic Bullet instead. You could also mash the chickpeas by hand with a fork for a chunkier patty. Pair the falafel with a whole wheat pita and a dollop of creamy cucumber dressing for a tasty and refreshing Middle Eastern meal.
Hannah Doolin is a senior magazine journalism major at Syracuse University. She procrastinates by testing recipes and watching Friday Night Lights.
Falafel Pita Pockets with Creamy Cucumber Dressing
Adapted from Melissa d’Arabian
Most falafel recipes include cilantro in the ingredient list. Since I’m not a huge fan, I omitted it from my recipe, but add 1/4 cup of coarsely chopped cilantro in with the falafel paste if you like it.
2 1/4 cups cooked chickpeas
3 scallions, coarsely chopped
2 large cloves garlic, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 cup coarsely chopped parsley
1 lemon, juiced
2/3 cup flour
Vegetable oil, for frying
1 cup plain yogurt
1/2 cucumber for dressing, plus extra for garnish
Salt and pepper for seasoning
In a food processor, combine the chickpeas, scallions, 1 clove garlic, cumin, cayenne, parsley, egg, and lemon juice (save about 1 teaspoon of juice for the dressing). Pulse to combine and season with salt. The mixture will not be smooth, but it should not have large chunks.
Add in 1/3 cup of the flour and pulse to just combine. Remove to a bowl and chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
Remove the chickpea mixture from the refrigerator. Add enough oil to a large sauté pan so it reaches 1/2-inch up the sides and heat it over medium-high heat until an inserted thermometer reads 360°F.
Meanwhile, drop spoonfuls of the chickpea mixture onto a plate with the other 1/3 cup flour. Roll into balls on the floured plate and press gently into patties. Fry in batches of hot oil for about 3 to 4 minutes each side and drain on paper towels.
In a small bowl, combine the yogurt, cucumber, remaining lemon juice, 1 clove garlic, salt and pepper. Refrigerate until chilled.
Serve falafel in halved pita pockets with slices of cucumber and a dollop of cucumber dressing.