Even if you don’t grow a garden yourself, you can pretty much always guarantee some surprise produce from co-workers, friends, family, neighbors, and even strangers during the summer in Indiana.
As a gardener, there is always some point where you can’t even think about eating another spear of asparagus/cherry tomato/zucchini, and you start to give away the rest of the crop to every single person you see. There is even a whole holiday dedicated to sneaking extra zucchinis onto your neighbor’s porch.
These Falafel Lettuce Wraps were born from donated produce. Back when I worked in an office, it was pretty common to walk into our office kitchen on any given day during summer and see a pile of tomatoes, squash, and cucumbers with a big “TAKE ME!” sign hanging over them. That’s Midwestern generosity for you.
Okay, and maybe it’s a little bit of Midwestern pawning off, too.
During one particularly sweltering summer day, I walked into the office kitchen and saw a pile of beautiful Bibb lettuce, cucumbers, and tomatoes, and I immediately knew what I was going to make—some sort of lettuce wrap! I started thinking about all the foods we traditionally wrap in bread-y things—burritos, tacos, gyros, falafel. Wait! Falafel! Perfect.
Standard falafel balls (or patties) are a flavored chickpea mixture made from dried chickpeas that have been soaked overnight then deep-fried to a crunchy golden brown exterior, while the inside stays soft and fluffy. It’s a Middle Eastern comfort food staple and it’s easy to see why. It’s pretty incredible. To make it simpler and easier to make at home, I use canned chickpeas and bake my falafel instead of deep-frying. Baking doesn’t give you the exact same texture as frying (does it ever?), but it’s a pretty close approximation. You get the same crispy outside and same pillowy-soft inside.
And by serving the falafel patties with fresh cucumbers and tomatoes on a bed of fresh lettuce, you’re getting a nice chunk of veggies in each bite. To up the flavor ante a bit, I made a very simple tahini sauce to drizzle on top. It also makes an excellent dipping sauce for…pretty much anything.
You can serve these for dinner, but they really shine as a meal prep office lunch! You can heat up your falafel patties or eat them room temperature. Just make sure to cool your patties completely before assembling your boxes (hot food + lettuce = Soggy City). And keep your sauce on the side—I love these leak proof dipping sauce containers. They nest perfectly into these these MealPrep 2-Compartment Glass Containers, which I use for all kinds of meal prep goodness! Enjoy.