Deconstructed Falafel Bowls

Welcome spring with a light and flavorful deconstructed falafel bowl! This vegetarian dinner is so fresh and delicious, perfect for busy weeknights. 

Welcome spring with a light and flavorful deconstructed falafel bowl! This vegetarian dinner is so fresh and delicious, perfect for busy weeknights.

Spring is here! My birthday was yesterday, and #BabyVolde’s is next week. He’ll be ONE on Friday. I can hardly believe it. Last weekend we celebrated his birthday and his baptism. Almost our entire family came down for the occasion. It was a whirlwind weekend (and unfortunately it rained the whole time) but it was so fun.

Our little family

One of the best parts of spring (aside from the great running weather) is all the fresh produce at the grocery store! It’s almost farmer’s market season too. I can’t wait. I foresee quite a few lighter meals in our future, like these deconstructed falafel bowls. Regular falafel, while delicious, are a little too intense for weeknight dinners at my house. All that shaping and frying/baking. Noooo thanks! BUT if you just roast the chickpeas in the oven and layer them up with some grains, a tasty Mediterranean salsa bursting with fresh tomatoes, cucumber, and herbs, and drizzle a tangy tzatziki yogurt sauce over top, suddenly falafels on a random Wednesday night is doable. Even if you have a baby crawling all over the kitchen, getting into evvvvvvverything.

Welcome spring with a light and flavorful deconstructed falafel bowl! This vegetarian dinner is so fresh and delicious, perfect for busy weeknights.

Though they take about 45 minutes to put together, most of that time is hands-off, waiting for the chickpeas to get all crispy in the oven. To make this meal faster, you can prepare the grain base (I used bulgur but anything goes–couscous, quinoa, rice, etc.) and tzatziki yogurt sauce ahead of time. Then, when the chickpeas are cooking you can throw the Mediterranean salsa together in a hurry… and presto! Dinner is served. 🙂 We loved all the textures/flavors in this dish, as well as the temperature contrast between the hot, smoky chickpeas and the cool, creamy tzatziki sauce. This is a great one dish meal that has definitely earned a spot on my spring/summer dinner rotation. Next time, I’ll be sure to pick up some pita bread and hummus to enjoy on the side. Happy Friday!

one year ago: Chocolate Peanut Butter Oreo Dream
two years ago: Spicy Chickpea Bacon Burgers
three years ago: Easy Homemade New York Bagels
four years ago: Kale Fried Rice
five years ago: Lemon Orzo Chicken Soup
six years ago: Mexican Pizza

Deconstructed Falafel Bowls

  • Servings: 3
  • Time: 45 minutes
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adapted from Delish Knowledge; Tzatziki from my blog

  • 1 – 15 ounce can chickpeas, drained, rinsed and patted very dry with towel
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 3/4 cup uncooked bulgur, couscous or other grain/grain susbtitute of choice

for the Tzatziki

  • 2 cups plain greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cucumber, seeded and grated, pressed dry with a clean dish towel
  • 2 teaspoons dried dill (or 2 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped])
  • 1-2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • salt, to taste

for the Mediterranean salsa

  • 1 1/2 cups chopped tomatoes
  • 2/3 cup chopped cucumber
  • 1/4 cup chopped red onion
  • 1/3 cup fresh parsley, minced
  • 1/3 cup fresh mint, minced
  • freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

Begin by making the chickpeas. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss the chickpeas–they should be very dry–with olive oil, then spread on a baking sheet in a single layer. Cook for 30 minutes, tossing halfway through. Remove from oven and season with cayenne, cumin, and paprika.

While chickpeas are cooking, prepare grain according to package directions. I made bulgur but couscous, quinoa, farro, or even rice would be great choices! Basically, anything goes here.

Next, make tzatziki. In a small bowl, stir together greek yogurt with grated cucumber, then fold in dill. Season with pepper and salt to taste. If desired, add mayonnaise. It adds a little extra tang that I love, but it can be omitted. Cover and refrigerate to let flavors blend. Tzatziki can be made the day before if desired.

Finally, make the Mediterranean salsa. Stir together tomatoes, cucumber, and red onion in a medium bowl. Gently fold in parsley and mint, then season with a bit of pepper. Let rest while chickpeas finish cooking.

 

When ready to serve, place bulgur in individual bowls. Top with chickpeas, Medterranean salsa, and a drizzle of tzatziki. Enjoy!

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SRC: Falafel, Tzatziki, and Greek Lemon Rice

Panfried falafel served up with lots of creamy tzatziki [cucumber sauce] and a tangy Greek rice. No one said vegetarian food had to be boring!

Falafel, Tzatziki, and Greek Lemon Rice | thepajamachef.com #SRC #vegetarian

I’m so glad it’s a Secret Recipe Club [SRC] day! What’s SRC? Basically a fun blogging group where you’re secretly paired up with another blogger. Everyone makes a recipe from their assigned blog and posts on the same day. The club has grown over the years and now has four groups. Since I first joined a few years[!] ago, I’ve been in group A. But when I had the chance to switch groups, I got SO excited because–hello!–new blogs to explore! 🙂 So now I’m in group C and loving it! This month I was assigned to Jamie’s blog, Our Eating Habits. Jamie lives in Canada and like any food blogger, loves food. She says on her about page: “Eating is a big part of my life, so I make sure everything that goes into my mouth is tasty.” A sentiment I agree with! [And that is EXACTLY why I bought jalapeno cheetos on Saturday at the grocery store. Those are SO good. Anyway…] Jamie loves cooking and baking for her family and has an impressive number of recipes on her blog. It was so fun to browse her recipes! I was tempted to make these red velvet M&M cake mix bars for Valentine’s Day, and will make this Butterscotch Confetti at Christmastime this year! I was all set to make those red velvet bars when I saw that Jamie had a falafel recipe…and I was sold!

Falafel, Tzatziki, and Greek Lemon Rice | thepajamachef.com #SRC #vegetarian

Though I love falafel, sometimes I’m hesitant to order it at restaurants because it’s easy to make it too dry since it’s basically deep-fried chickpea balls/patties. Chickpeas are a drier bean anyway, so it makes sense. That’s why I’ve been excited to see so many pan-fried recipes for falafel lately. This recipe doesn’t disappoint! It’s so flavorful and moist [sorry!]. I changed the recipe a little from Jamie’s version, using lime juice instead of lemon, and adding the zest in for a little something special. Jamie used an egg as a binder and I decided to exclude it just so I didn’t have to worry about not cooking the falafel enough. I compensated for the lack of egg by using more chickpeas and less bread crumbs. Served up with some creamy tzatziki, chopped tomatoes and red onion, on a pita or lettuce-wrap style, this is an awesome meal! I couldn’t believe how easy it was to make this tasty vegetarian meal. Jamie added mayo to her tzatziki sauce and I thought that was genius! The mayo made the sauce a little creamier and added a little extra zip, but it also tasted good without.

Falafel, Tzatziki, and Greek Lemon Rice | thepajamachef.com #SRC #vegetarian

As a side, I made a super easy lemon rice. It has just four ingredients: jasmine rice, chicken broth, rosemary, and lemon juice and is SO addictive. The bright, fresh flavor was perfect alongside the falafel. This is not a meal to be missed! Hope you try it today. 🙂 Thanks, Jamie, for a great recipe!

one year ago: Fresh Cranberry Coffee Cake
two years ago: Go-To Pancakes
three years ago: Sunrise Muffins
four years ago: Peanut Butter Chocolate Cupcakes

Falafel, Tzatziki, and Greek Lemon Rice

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 50 minutes
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Falafel and Tzatziki from Our Eating Habits; Greek Lemon Rice from Thank Your Body

Ingredients:

for falafel

  • 1 small onion
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • pinch cayenne pepper
  • zest of 1 lime
  • juice of 1/2 a lime
  • 1/2-1 cup bread crumbs
  • 1-2 cans chickpeas [15 ounces each]
  • freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • salt, to taste
  • oil for cooking

for Tzatziki

  • 2 cups plain greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cucumber, seeded and grated, pressed dry with a clean dish towel
  • 2 teaspoons dried dill [or 2 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped]
  • 1-2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • salt, to taste

for Greek Lemon Rice

  • 1 cup jasmine or basmati rice
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon dried rosemary
  • juice of 1 lemon [approximately 1/4 cup]
  • freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • salt, to taste

for serving

  • pita bread
  • chopped red onions
  • chopped tomato
  • romaine lettuce

Directions:

Begin by making the tzatziki. In a medium bowl, stir together yogurt, cucumber, dill, and mayo. Taste and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and refrigerate while cooking falafel and rice.

Next, mix up the falafel. In a food processor, pulse together onion, parsley, garlic, cumin, coriander, cayenne, lime zest, and lime juice. Then add 1/4 cup bread crumbs and 1 can chickpeas and pulse together, being careful to not completely pulverize the chickpeas. Check to see if mixture holds together, then add additional bread crumbs and/or chickpeas, pulsing gently, until mixture can be shaped into patties. I used 1/2 cup bread crumbs and 1 1/2 cans chickpeas [approximately 2 1/4 cups chickpeas]. Season to taste with pepper and salt. Shape into small patties–I used about 1/4 cup for each. Place on a plate or baking sheet and pop in the fridge to chill while starting the rice.

In a small saucepan set over high heat, combine rice, chicken broth, rosemary, and lemon juice. Bring to a boil, then stir. Cover and reduce heat to a simmer, cooking for 15-20 minutes until the rice has absorbed all the liquid. Fluff with a fork and season with pepper and salt to taste.

While rice is cooking, heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add oil and when hot, cook falafel patties, about 3-4 minutes per side until heated through and browned on each side.

Serve falafel in a pita or with lettuce, topping with onions, tomato, and tzatziki. Rice is great on the side or in the pita too!

Be sure to see what other SRC members made this week:

Mystery Dish: Watermelon Salsa

A sweet watermelon salsa that has just a bit of kick to it… this may be my new favorite summer snack! Watermelon Salsa | thepajamachef.com Hey hey! This was my month to host Mystery Dish and it was so fun! I got to invite a guest to participate with us and chose to ask my lil sis, Kathleen at Two Happy Bellies! So glad she could bake up a yummy treat this month. 🙂 These ingredients I chose included:

  • coffee [grounds or brewed] – an unexpected summer ingredient
  • sour cream – for something creamy
  • farro – because I have a bag in the pantry I’ve been trying to use up…clearly that didn’t happen
  • almonds – for a crunch
  • cherries – they’re in season
  • watermelon – my favorite summer fruit…even more than berries [I know!!!]
  • cantaloupe – if you get a good one, they’re like candy
  • jicama – crunch crunch
  • cucumber – they’re super cheap at the farmer’s market and I love them
  • tomatoes – never buy these when it’s not summertime…just not woth it
  • infused or flavored olive oil – see farro
  • fresh herbs [any kind] – because fresh herbs rock
  • cornmeal – I have no idea, but thought it could be good for a crust or something
  • hot peppers [any kind] – spice, spice, spice it up! 

I hope my other Mystery Dish gals had fun with the ingredients I chose for them to play with…and now they know a little bit about why I chose the ingredients I did. I asked them to choose three for their dish. I used five–watermelon, cucumber, infused/flavored olive oil, fresh herbs, and hot peppers, and I meant to use a sixth–jicama, but forgot. Oh rats.Watermelon Salsa | thepajamachef.com This salsa is like the stuff of my dreams. Though I love your basic smooth tomato-based salsas, sometimes a chunky fruit-based salsa just hits the spot. This salsa combines some of my favorite summertime fruits and veggies [watermelon, peaches, and cucumber] with some spicy jalapeno and chili powder for the tiniest kick to make things interesting. 🙂 If spicy salsa isn’t your thing, leave out the jalapeno or use some bell pepper instead. Watermelon Salsa | thepajamachef.com Now, I know that some of you may  be a bit hesitant to make a spicy watermelon salsa, or even to use watermelon in salsa to begin with. I have to admit, that not too long ago I was right there with you! I love eating watermelon in the summer [really, all year round but they are only GOOD in the summer] and rarely use it in recipes because I just love it plain. But I wanted to stretch myself and try a spiced up watermelon dish because I’ve seen tons of recipes doing just that. And I’m really glad I did. Yay for Mystery Dish! The salsa isn’t really too spicy, so don’t worry… the watermelon and cucumber cool everything down and the peaches provide a bite of sweetness. It’s pretty much a perfect combo. Watermelon Salsa | thepajamachef.com I served this salsa with regular tortilla chips as well as the pictured multigrain tortilla chips [my fave!], but I think some cinnamon sugar tortilla or pita chips could be really good too! One last thing: be sure to make this salsa right before serving it. The watermelon definitely makes it pretty liquidy the longer it sits so eat up! 🙂
one year ago: Blueberry Buckle
two years ago: Mango Coconut Granola 
three years ago: Lavender-Lime Scones
four years ago: Creamy Baked Spaghetti

Watermelon Salsa

  • Servings: 6
  • Time: 10 minutes
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Watermelon Salsa | thepajamachef.com
Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups watermelon, chopped into small cubes and drained in a mesh colander for 10 minutes
  • 1 small peach, chopped into small cubes [about 2/3 cup]
  • 1/3 cup cucumber, chopped into small cubes
  • 1/2 of a jalapeno, seeded and diced – optional
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon coconut white balsamic vinegar [regular white balsamic vinegar is fine too]
  • 1 teaspoon blood orange infused extra virgin olive oil [some orange juice/zest mixed with a bit of evoo is fine too]
  • pinch of chili powder
  • garlic salt, to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • tortilla chips, for serving

Directions: In a small bowl fold together watermelon, peach, cucumber, jalapeno, and cilantro. In a measuring cup, use a fork to whisk together vinegar, olive oil, chili powder, garlic salt, and pepper. Pour mixture over watermelon, then stir to coat. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Serve immediately with tortilla chips. Would also be great over fish, chicken, or pork, with tacos, or even with a spoon!

July Mystery Dish via thepajamachef.com

  1. Watermelon Salsa – The Pajama Chef
  2. Farro Salad – Chez CateyLou
  3. Cherry Almond Coffee Cake – Two Happy Bellies
  4. Watermelon Fruit Salad with Mint Lime Dressing – Yummy Healthy Easy
  5. Toasted Almond Caramel Mocha Gelato – Culinary Couture Blog
  6. Cherry Galettes with Almond Sour Cream Crust – The Well Floured Kitchen
  7. Cherry Watermelon Granita – Joyful Healthy Eats
  8. Cherry Almond Mocha Smoothie – Baking a Moment
  9. Pepperoni Pasta Salad – I Want Crazy
  10. Almond Cherry Bars – I Dig Pinterest
  11. Cucumber Salsa – Weary Chef
  12. Cherry Almond Popsicles – Blahnik Baker

 

Linked up with: Weekend Potluck.

Tabbouleh

Tabbouleh is one of those things I didn’t know I liked, but once I found out I did, I wanted to make it all the time. This cold Lebanese salad is so fresh and flavorful. It goes with almost anything! I had eaten tabbouleh at the occasional restaurant over the years, but just kinda ate it because it was there. It wasn’t until I went to a Mediterranean theme dinner and decided to try my hand at making a batch that I really fell in love with it.

Tabbouleh | thepajamachef.com

There are a zillion recipes for tabbouleh, though most are pretty much the same: bulghur wheat, parsley, tomatoes, olive oil, lemon juice, etc. I had Marisa‘s recipe pinned and decided to try it out because it was actually her grandma’s recipe, and we all know that grandma recipes are the best! Marisa’s grandma puts an extra spin on it by adding a little allspice at the end. This makes it extra special, in my opinion.

Tabbouleh | thepajamachef.com

I’ve made this salad for several groups now and have actually had some comments on how much better this version is from others. Chance? Or Marisa’s grandma’s special touch? I’ll never know! 🙂 This recipe makes a large bowl–plenty of servings for a party, a week’s worth of lunches, or whatever you fancy! I’m sure the recipe could be halved too if you need less. Oh, and be sure to try scooping some up with pita bread… heavenly!

Tabbouleh | thepajamachef.com

one year ago: Italian Chicken & Veggie Couscous Bowls
two years ago: Banana Crumb Muffins
three years ago: Creamy Taco Mac

Tabbouleh [from Hummus and Jalapenos]
click to print

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups bulghur wheat [there are different sizes–I used medium]
  • 2 bunches parsley
  • 3-4 tomatoes, diced
  • 1 bunch green onions, diced
  • 1 cucumber, peeled and diced
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • salt, freshly ground black pepper, and allspice to taste

Directions:

Rinse bulghur in cold water 3-4 times, then pour boiling water over top. Let rest in large bowl for at least a half hour, then drain with a fine mesh strainer and set aside in a bowl.

Remove stems from parsley and place in a food processor. Pulse until finely chopped.

Place parsley, tomatoes, green onions, cucumber, lemon juice, and olive oil in bowl with wheat. Season with salt, pepper, and allspice. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired.

Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Time: 60 minutes.
Yield: 16 servings.