Greek Panzanella Salad + Crispy Baked Falafel Balls

I've been a little obsessed with two things lately...


Panzanella salads & anything Greek.
When I say I've been obsessed with Panzanella salads, I mean REALLY obsessed. Since my first attempt at one over Easter, I've had one for lunch pretty much at least 3 times a week, and I honestly don't see the streak ending anytime soon.

First off, I love salads, and I love my greens. But you know what I love more than salad? Bread instead of lettuce in my salad. I mean it still counts as a salad, right?
In my book it does...


This is definitely one of my favorite types of salad-- Crispy croutons soaked in a super tangy vinaigrette? It's basically like eating a bunch of bread dunked in olive oil, vinegar, & spices at a restaurant, but in "salad" form.
So... you pretty much can't go wrong with it. Even all you anti salad-ists will love it!


Is anyone with me on the whole pre-dinner bread thing, though? I could probably make a meal out of that stuff alone.


I wouldn't add lettuce, since the bread typically replaces it in these salads, but I love adding fresh herbs and arugula for a little bit of color.
The trick to a good Panzanella salad is stale bread. And a really tangy vinaigrette. And loads of salty cheese.
Knowing all of this, I just couldn't help myself making a Greek style one.

And the falafel...


I've been loving these guys lately! They're so soft on the inside, and so, so crispy on the outside. Seriously, these are probably some of the best falafels I've ever had.
It's so funny because I used to HATE falafel. I don't know, I guess I always thought they had a weird aftertaste, but now, I practically live off of them!
I've made this recipe way too many times in the past month. I don't even want to know how many cans of chickpeas we've gone through.

Oh, also, my friend who's full Lebanese recently told me the correct way to pronounce falafel--
fuh-lih-fey.
I'll probably still say (fah-lah-fool) for the rest of my life, though...


And finally, the thing that makes Panzanella salads complete-- the dressing. I used my Greek pesto from these grilled cheeses the other day to make a vinaigrette, which not to toot my own horn, was a great decision. Adding the tahini in it makes it so creamy and almost takes the place of cheese in the dressing. Don't get me wrong! I put loads of cheese on the salad and in the pesto, too. But you can never have too much cheese.
I mean seriously, when has that ever been a bad thing??



Greek Panzanella Salad + Falafel Balls
Serves 4 (as a full meal)

  • 1 loaf ciabatta or tuscan bread
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes- halved
  • 1/2 large red onion- thinly sliced half circles
  • 1 cucumber (cut into quarter pieces)
  • 1/2 cup+ crumbled feta (I used 1/2 cup, but use as much/little as you like)
  • 10 kalamata olives- pitted & halved
  • 1/4 cup curly parsley- roughly chopped
  • 1/3 cup Greek Pesto or regular pesto blended with feta & capers to taste
  • 1 tbs. tahini
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 3-4 tbs. red wine vinegar (depending on taste- I like mine really tangy)
  • Falafel balls (recipe below)
Cut the bread into bite-sized cubes and broil until crispy (watch carefully to not burn). Toss with tomatoes, onion, olives, and cucumber. Mix pesto, oil, tahini, and red wine vinegar together to make vinaigrette. Pour over salad and toss. Mix in crumbled feta & parsley. Top with falafel and serve immediately. 


Falafel:
  • 2- 15 oz. cans chickpeas (rinsed)
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 2-3 cups dark leafy greens (spinach, kale, arugula, etc.)
  • 2 tsp. black pepper
  • 2 tsp. Greek seasoning
  • 1 lemon- juiced
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tbs. both dried mint & parsley flakes 
  • 2 tbs. oat flour (ground oats)
  • 1/2 cup flax meal
Pre-heat oven to 375º.
Grind all ingredients in a food processor until smooth. If too thin and sticky to form, add 2 tbs. oat flour at a time until thick enough to roll into balls about 1/2 size of your palm (it will still be sticky).
On an olive oil greased baking sheet, place the balls evenly apart, and bake for 30-40 minutes or until it starts to turn light brown on the tops, and is hard on the outside. Serve immediately or at room temp. (these don't store well, so it's best to eat the day of making them).

                                                                            
                                                                               XOXO
                                                                                              -Cecilia A. 














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