Pistachio Meatball Pitas with Tzatziki and Fennel Slaw

Colleen Patrick-Goudreau talks about how “meat” was originally used as a term to distinguish that which was eaten from that which was drunk.  I really admire her work, and definitely recommend you check out her podcast, “Vegetarian Food for Thought.”  However, it doesn’t matter what you call these meatballs if they don’t taste good!  The meatballs are a variation on Chloe Coscarelli’s Drive-Thru burger meat.  I was literally eating the tzatziki with a spoon, and the fennel rounds out the textures and flavors really nicely.  Stuff it all in a pita and dinner is served.  If you don’t have any pita bread on hand, just dipping the meatballs in the tzatziki would make a great tapas style meal.  In that case, I might serve it with a few other picky foods like kalamata olives, rosemary roasted marcona almonds, and, of course, the fennel slaw.  Bon appetit! 


Pistachio Meatball Pitas with Tzatziki and Fennel Slaw

Serves 4-6

8 whole wheat pita breads

Pistachio Meatballs:

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 small onion

1 clove garlic, minced

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1 8 ounce package tempeh, steamed for 10-15 minutes

1 can lentils

1/2 cup walnuts

1/2 cup shelled pistachios

1/2 cup flour

salt and pepper to taste

olive oil, for frying

Tzatziki (recipe below)

Fennel Slaw:

1 fennel bulb, sliced thin

1/2 lemon, juiced OR 2 tablespoons minced preserved lemons (optional)

salt and pepper to taste


1.  In a skillet, saute onion in olive oil until soft.  Add garlic, cinnamon, cumin and cayenne and cook an additional 1-2 minutes.

2.  Transfer the onion mixture to the food processor.  Pulse with onion mixture, tempeh, lentils, walnuts, pistachios and flour.  Season with salt and pepper.  The mixture should be textured, but should hold together.

3.  Form the pistachio meatballs into 1 inch balls.  Sautee in olive oil over medium heat until golden on all sides.

4.  For the fennel slaw, toss the fennel with preserved lemons or lemon juice, salt and pepper.

5.  Slice open a pita so you can fill it.  Slather with tzatziki, fill with fennel slaw and add as many meatballs as will fit.



1 16 ounce block soft tofu

1/4 cup olive oil

1 lemon, juiced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon honey or agave

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon cumin

pinch cayenne

1/3-1/2 cup grated English cucumber

1/4 cup fresh mint, finely chopped


1.  In a food processor, combine tofu, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, honey, salt, cumin and cayenne until silky smooth.

2.  Stir in cucumber and mint.

3.  Serve!


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