Anyone else secretly (ok, not so secretly) glad summer is over? Don’t get me wrong, I love the idea of summer, but somehow, it’s just not as exciting when you’re a working adult. It’s like – look, here are all these fun activities that you can only do these 3 months a year! Beaches and bar crawls! Cookouts! Beers on patios! Except… there’s laundry. And the gym. And bills and chores and cleaning to do. Let’s not dive deeper into the Boston humidity in July. So that wonderful, fanciful idea of summer turns into just an idea.
Not to say I didn’t have a good summer – I did! (Clearly, because I haven’t been around here much ?) Highlights include a great weekend up in Plum Island, MA, another long weekend in Portsmouth, NH, a Red Sox game, many brunches with family and friends – and you better believe a whole lot of good food. Some day, we’ll have to make it back up to Burlington, VT – we’re very skilled in that both Randall and I managed to get sick the one week we took vacation. Yes, in the middle of August. Pretty naturally gifted if I do say so myself.
The end of summer means that fall is coming. Picture a small child swirling around screaming “Yes! Yes!” and that pretty much sums up me in fall. It is the BEST season in New England. I look forward to apple picking every year, because I’m a nerd – prepare yourselves for apples in everything.
But beets! Ask me a year ago and I would have said beets are weird. Something my grandfather and uncle ate pickled and joked that they made your pee purple. (Side note – yes, this CAN happen. Please do not be alarmed. Beets are just quirky like that ?) Nowadays, I’m of the opinion that beets go in/on everything.
The great thing about this recipe is that it uses both the beet greens and beets themselves, for the falafel and tzatziki sauce respectively. They’re also a riff on the spinach falafel from one of my favorite restaurants in the Beantown area, Sofra. Seriously, if you live in Boston, stop whatever it is you’re doing and go knock down their door. Sister restaurants Sarma (my absolute favorite) and Oleana are also wonderful.
My favorite way to eat these is in a pita wrap, though we’ve also had these over rice. Hella good either way. Enjoy!
Beet Greens Falafel with Lemon Tahini and Beet Tzatziki
Make the Pita Dough:
2 tsp yeast
1 tsp sugar
1 cup warm water
3 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp salt
2 tbs olive oil
Add yeast and sugar to 1 cup warm water. Stir and set aside for ~5 minutes until the yeast is foamy an active. In the meantime, add flour, salt and olive oil to a medium bowl. When the yeast is ready add to bowl and stir to create a shaggy dough. Remove from bowl and knead on a well-floured surface for 5-10 minutes, adding flour as necessary. Return to a well-oiled bowl, turning the dough to coat completely. Let rise for 1 hour, or until doubled in size.
Roast the Beets:
2 bunches of beets, greens attached
salt & pepper
Scrub beets and greens thoroughly to remove and residual dirt. Remove greens from beet root and stem so that only the leaves remain. You should end up with three piles: beet roots, stems, and leaves. Go ahead and discard/compost the stems – we won’t use these.
Chop beet root into 1” cubes; drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 35 minutes, or until fork-tender. Remove from oven and let cool.
Prepare the Beet Greens Falafel:
~3 cups beet greens (from above)
1 15.5 oz can of chickpeas
3 cloves garlic
1 bunch of scallions, white parts only
1/4 cup tahini
juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp cardamom
While the beets are roasting and the pita dough is rising, you can start on the prep for the falafel. Rinse your chickpeas and drain well. At this stage, I also try to remove as many of the chickpeas skins as possible.
Add beet greens, chickpeas, garlic, scallions, tahini, lemon juice, and spices to a food processor. Pulse until no large chunks remain. Remove mixture to a medium sized bowl. By this point, your pita dough will probably be ready, so set your falafel mixture aside until your ready to cook them.
Cook the Pita:
Divide your dough into 8-10 equal balls. Work back and forth between hands until you have a smooth ball. Roll out each ball into a thin circle. These can easily go from perfect circles to perfectly oblong blobs, so be sure to turn frequently while rolling out.
Depending on your personal preference, these can be done either in the oven or on the stove top. Cook for ~2 minutes per side, until lightly golden and cooked through. The pita should bubble and puff, but will be delicious regardless.
Wrap pitas in a clean tea towel and set aside until ready to assemble your wraps.
Fry the Falafel:
Form falafel balls by scooping and pressing the mixture together into 12 balls. Heat oil in a pan over medium-high heat. When hot, add falafel – we were able to fit about 5 at a time. Fry until golden brown, rotating as needed to brown all sides.
Make the Beet Tzatziki:
1/2 cup of roasted beets
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
2 cloves of garlic
1 tbs fresh dill, minced
Take 1/2 cup of roasted beets and process in a food processor until smooth. Mix with yogurt, garlic, and dill.
Make the Lemon-Tahini Sauce:
Combine equal parts tahini and lemon juice, mixing fully combine.
Spread some beet tzatziki on your pita – top with 2-3 falafel. Dollop some lemon-tahini on top. Optionally, add a sprig or two of arugula or pickled onions. SO GOOD.
P.S. – Your kitchen may start to look like this half-way through. It isn’t as bad as it looks, I promise ?. Having someone that will exchange washing dishes for delicious food is a BIG help. (Thanks dear!)