Things are getting challenging in my kitchen. Gone are the days when all four of us would eat most kinds of food. Instead I hear things like “I won’t eat that kind of meat” or “no dairy for me”. My kids are typical Gen Y who are more aware of what food they eat and where it came from.
So it makes me happy when I make dinner that they are all excited about eating. I hit a home run with this salad.
It all begins with falafel. Falafel is a ball or patty made from ground chickpeas or fava beans or both. It’s a vegetarian Middle Eastern food most typically eaten in pita bread. You can make your own falafel, but the box ones you add water to are a pretty good time saver. I prefer “Casbah” but “Near East” seems to be more widespread available.
Instead of making falafel patties, you brown it in a little olive or canola oil similar to how you would brown ground beef.
French goat feta cheese is a lovely cheese. Even those who aren’t feta fans will be won over by its mild and less salty taste. It’s available in the specialty cheese section of many grocery stores.
The vinaigrette is highlighted by the flavors of Balsamic vinegar, herbs and a pinch of sugar. And I’ve also included a recipe for a Greek yogurt spiked sauce with a little lemon zest to drizzle over the salad.
Warmed pita bread goes well with the salad and if you want to go one step further, I slice pita bread into triangles and toss it with a little olive oil, dried oregano and kosher salt then toast it in the oven until crispy.
- Vinaigrette dressing:
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- ½ teaspoon sugar
- 1-1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano or ½ teaspoon dried
- 1-1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme or ½ teaspoon dried
- ⅓ cup olive or canola oil
- Kosher salt
- Fresh ground black pepper
- Optional yogurt lemon drizzle:
- 8 ounces plain Greek yogurt
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1 box (10 ounces) “Casbah” brand falafel mix (see note)
- 2 tablespoons olive or canola oil
- 1 bunch red or green leaf lettuce, washed and torn into bite size pieces
- 2 cups chopped ripe tomatoes (about 2 medium)
- 1-1/2 cups peeled, seeded and chopped cucumber (about 1 medium)
- 1 cup chopped avocado (about 1 medium)
- 4 ounces French goat feta cheese, crumbled or chopped
- For the vinaigrette, whisk together vinegar, mustard, garlic, sugar, oregano and thyme, then whisk in olive oil until smooth; season with salt and pepper; set aside.
- For the falafel, follow package directions for making falafel mix. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat; add prepared falafel mix spreading it out in the pan and cooking (similar to browning ground beef) until lightly browned and crisp turning and breaking into pieces as it cooks, about 3-4 minutes; remove from pan and allow cooling to room temperature, about 10 minutes.
- For the optional topping, stir together Greek yogurt and lemon zest; set aside.
- To assemble the salad, toss lettuce with the vinaigrette dressing; add tomatoes, cucumbers and avocado and gently toss to evenly coat; divide salad among four plates. Top with falafel and feta cheese.
- Serve salad with yogurt lemon drizzle on the side.