Home made pitas & Falafel with Cucumber Tomato Salad

I love mediterranean food. Growing up, my family travelled to the mediterranean quite a bit, since it was right next door to England where I grew up–and even as a kid I loved trying all the different kinds of foods whenever we travelled. Then this weekend my husband and I went on a date to a delicious mediterranean restaurant/winery in tricities, and although we were probably the only ones there not drinking wine, we absolutely loved everything they served! There’s just something so perfect about mediterranean food in the Spring and summer, which is why I had to go home and learn how to make some!

There were a few mediterranean dishes I really wanted to try and make: home-made pitas, falafel, hummus, and tahini sauce, and for some crazy reason I just went ahead and made ALL of it at once last night.

And it was ALL extremely delicious. What surprised me, is that making ALL of this, was actually easier than some stand alone dishes I have made in the past–just because each component was SUPER simple!! But to save a really long blog post, I have decided to divide it up a little. Here are the recipes I found for the home-made pitas and falafel.

PITAS:
Recipe from Simplebites.com
Ingredients:
1 tablespoon yeast
1 ¼ cup warm water
1 teaspoon salt
3- 3 ½ cups flour

Directions:
In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the yeast and warm water, and let sit for 5 minutes until frothy

Add 1 1/2 cups of flour and salt, and stir to make a batter

Add additional 1 1/2 cups of flour and knead for 8 minutes. The dough should be smooth and elastic. Add more flour if it’s too sticky.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and divide into six pieces for large pitas, 8 pieces for medium pitas, or 10 pieces for small ones. Form dough into balls

Flatten the balls of dough with a rolling pin, until they form discs of about 1/4 inch thickness. Keep each pita the same thickness so they’ll puff nice and big.

Let rest on the floured surface 30-40 minutes until slightly puffed. Preheat oven to 425F.

With a large spatula, flip the rounds of dough upside down on to a baking sheet. Bake 10-15 minutes until lightly golden and puffy.

You can see how some puffed a little unequally… that’s because I didn’t roll them out equally enough! Somehow I missed that tip the first time around. 

Falafel
(recipe from fine cooking magazine)

Ingredients:
1 15oz. can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
7 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander
salt & pepper
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1/2 cup plain fine dry breadcrumbs; more as needed
1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 English cucumber, sliced and quartered
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
4 pitas, warmed

Directions:
In a food processor, pulse the chickpeas, 2 Tbsp of the olive oil, the cumin, coriander, 1 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp black pepper into a chunky paste.
(PS I cheated and used my blender, which works too).  Add the onions and breadcrumbs and pulse until the mixture tightens up. Gently form the mixture into 6 patties, adding more breadcrumbs as needed.
Heat 2 Tbsp olive oil in a non-stick skillet over medium heat until shimmering hot. Add the patties and cook for 2 minutes on either side, or until lightly browned.
Toss the tomatoes and cucumber with 1 Tbsp oil, and fresh lemon juice and add salt to taste. Split the pitas and stuff them with the falafel and the tomato cucumber salad.  Serve with tahini sauce.

I have wanted to make mediterranean food for a really long time now–but i’ve been a little hesitant because of how complex it looks. Now I know how simple it really is, I know i’m going to be making a LOT more of it this spring and summer, just perhaps–not all at once!!

Enjoy guys!
<3 Sarah