From Arugula to Ziti: Falafel with Cucumber Sauce

I have a bit of a confession to make. I view this position, writing weekly for iVillage, as an opportunity to try out foods that aren't on my normal menu—foods that I've never made before. It's this perfect weekly challenge to get out there and experiment, learn and cook. I know, how lucky am I, right?

Until the first snow of the season (mid-December), I'd never had falafel before. But the lack of goods in our house after 2 feet had fallen forced us out into the wild streets of Takoma Park. We landed at the Organic Falafel Stand, and man, (oh man!) was that the right choice. Yum!

It was hearty and tasty, and the creamy cucumber sauce played perfectly off the fresh cucumbers and tomatoes inside the pita. In a word, it was perfect. So this weekend, during D.C.'s second record-breaking snowstorm of the winter (30”), we made our own falafel and cucumber sauce. It was so easy and tasty that it’s now officially on our radar.

Falafel with Cucumber Sauce

2 small cans chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
1 medium size white onion
4 garlic cloves
2 tsps tumeric
½ tsp ginger
½ tsp cayenne
½ tsp paprika
4 tbsp fresh parsley
¼ cup flour
4 cups canola oil, for frying

cucumber sauce:
1 cup plain yogurt
1 cucumber
4 limes, juiced
1 tbsp lime zest
5 tbsp fresh cilantro

serve with:
1 tomato
1 red onion
1 cucumber
Mixed greens

The first thing you want to do is drain your cucumbers. Place cucumber slices in a strainer sitting over a bowl. Sprinkle the cucumbers generously with kosher salt, which will draw the water out of the cucumbers and keep your sauce from getting too thin. Set them aside.

In a food processor, combine garbanzo beans (drained) with all of the other falafel ingredients. Blend until it forms a nice paste. You want to be able to form balls without it being too tacky, so add additional flour if necessary. Transfer the batter to a bowl and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Heat oil in a heavy pan to 350 degrees. Form the batter into small balls (ping pong sized) and flatten slightly to ½”-thick. (If you don’t flatten, they’ll burn before they cook all the way through). Drop in oil and cook for 4-6 minutes per side, or until golden brown. For the sauce, combine drained cucumbers and remaining ingredients in the food processor. Blend until smooth. Serve falafel in a pita with tomatoes, onion, cucumbers, greens, and sauce. Enjoy!


Elena Rosemond-Hoerr is a writer and photographer and can be found on her own website,
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