07 June 2009

Bring on the cheap summer meals! Baked Falafel with Tzatziki Sauce and Quinoa Tabbouleh

Early summer is an inspiring time for me in the kitchen. The grocery stores and farmer's markets are rich with beautiful, aromatic herbs and fresh produce, but not being rich myself means carefully budgeting and planning meals faced with an abundance of healthful options.

One of my favorite ways to get a little mileage out of weekly foods is through summer pasta, rice and grain salads. I make a large batch on Sunday evenings and then eat it throughout the week for lunch with fresh fruit, for breakfast smothered with an over easy runny egg, or with light summer dinners.

After getting a pretty awesome deal on quinoa a few weeks ago, I decided to reinvent a traditional tabbouleh side using the grain. If you haven't tried quinoa, it's a little nutty but has a pretty interesting texture that adds an unexpected bite to side dishes, warm or cold. I rounded up a bounty of fresh produce and prepared one of my new favorites.

Quinoa Tabbouleh Salad

2 cups cooked quinoa
1/2 cup chopped cucumber
1/4 cup diced carrots
3 green onions, sliced into 1/4" pieces
3 campari or roma tomatoes, chopped
2 tbl. finely chopped Italian parsley
1 tbl. finely chopped mint
1 tsp. grated lemon zest
1 1/2 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
Pinch of sea salt, fresh ground pepper

1. Mix all ingredients together except for quinoa. Slowly fold in quinoa.

Ian isn't a fan of cucumber, so he generally picks the pieces out of this particular salad, but he doesn't mind cucumber if it's finely blended. Making tzatziki sauce in this household is a bit tricky, so I had to pre-mix red onions, peeled and diced cucumber and a clove of garlic in my food processor before adding to Fat Free Chobani Yogurt. I never measure out this sauce, since I generally just prepare it to taste, but the trick for me has always been to add just the right amount of sugar for the cucumbers to stand out.

As for the falafel, I'm not a huge fan of frying these bad boys up, so I bake them as patties instead. I used this recipe, subbing the peanut butter for the last bit of sunflower butter I had left. As one might expect, baking falafel patties means a few cracked casualties occur, but this girl isn't very picky: I ate the cracked ones straight with tzatziki about three minutes after they finished baking.


Olga said...

what a fresh and colorful meal!

Anonymous said...

YUM!! I love Tzatziki sauce, thanks for the Quinoa recipe YUM!

Jessica@Foodmayhem said...

I have a friend who doesn't like cucumber either. It baffles me. To me, it looks and sounds delicious.