Chickpeas are an amazing bean and I’m finding out just how versatile they are. I’ve used chickpea’s in a lentil stew, roasted them with spices for snacking on and used them on top of salads. They are the main ingredient in hummus, which is just as versatile as the chickpea itself. They are great freshly cooked and I have no problem snacking on them just like that. They also make good things like socca bread and chickpea omelets. Its flour can be used and combined with other gluten free flours to make gluten free baked items too. And now, I come across the falafel, another great way to use chickpeas. High in protein and full of fiber, anything made with chickpeas is a great addition to a healthy lifestyle.
This last week I’ve been falafel making and am here to share with you my experiences. Falafels are a Mediterranean food and can be used in various ways like in salads, or made into sandwiches using pita bread and the ingredients of the salad base within this recipe along with a nice drizzle of dressing. You can also enjoy them by simply pairing your falafels with hummus, a flat bread and fruit (fresh grapes come to mind) for a great snack or simple meal. Along with the falafel recipe are two creamy style dressings. One is a more traditional dressing using tahini as the base while the other is not so traditional using avocado and cucumber. The avocado and cucumber dressing is inspired by my Avocado & Cucumber Soup and works great as a dressing too. I loved them both and decided to add them both here for varying tastes. Everything is super easy to make. I hope you enjoy it all!
(Recipe updated 1/21/16)
Let me share with you a bit about my trials of falafel making. I have used canned and fresh soaked garbanzo beans. Once everything is blended together they both taste about the same and I had no preference. I like the convenience of using canned but it’s nice to be able to use dried, soaked beans as well. The soaking just takes some patience. There isn’t any need to cook your soaked beans as they will be soft enough to use in the recipe. I like having the option to use either. Use whatever is easiest and convenient to you. You may like to try them both and see which way you like best. I’ve also made them with added flour and/or oil like some recipes call for. I personally found the flour and oil to not be necessary and have omitted them in this recipe. I’ve baked my falafels in a skillet and on cookie sheets, both work great. I’ve also added a few extra ingredients like coriander which is nice but have omitted it here just to keep it simple as possible (although I do have the garlic & onion powder…I like them for good measure). But by all means, if you have coriander on hand go ahead and throw in a teaspoon. As for the greens, feel free to use only parsley or cilantro. That’s a little about my experiences. I’m sure there is more to learn and each of us will have varying outcomes due to our kitchen appliances, tools and taste. These were flavorful, delicious falafels and I see them being made fairly regularly around here!
Start by adding the ingredients to your food processor/blender. Blend until fairly smooth, stopping every now and then to scrap down the sides. The amount shown here is a double batch of the recipe.
Shape your falafels into medium size patties like you see here or make bite size nuggets. I played around with different size falafels. The bite size ones were especially great in a salad and I was able to get 16. You can vary your size according to your needs and uses. All the sizes cooked for the same amount of time and came out nicely firm on the outside and perfectly soft and tender on the inside. They weren’t dry and crumbly. Any size will work great for salad toppers or sandwich fillers.
Once your salad is put together, add your dressing of choice and dig in. This was a most delicious salad!
BAKED FALAFEL SALAD + TWO CREAMY DRESSINGS
Falafels are incredibly easy to make. No need to fry falafels in tons of oil, they bake up perfectly in the oven. Add them to a fresh salad with a creamy tahini-dill dressing and you’re in for a delicious meal!
- spring mix or choice of leafy greens
- shallot or red onion, thinly sliced
- tomatoes, sliced
- cucumber, thinly sliced
- 1 can (15 oz) chickpeas, drained and rinsed or 1 cup dried and soaked overnight
- 1/4 cup loosely packed cilantro, chopped
- 1/4 cup loosely packed parsley, chopped
- 2 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped (optional)
- 1 small shallot or 1/2 small onion, roughly chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder (optional, but for good measure)
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder (optional, but for good measure)
- pinch or two cayenne pepper, red pepper flakes, chili powder or smoked paprika (depending on your mood)
- juice of 1/2 lemon
- himalayan salt & freshly cracked pepper to taste
- 4 tablespoons tahini
- 1 garlic clove, pressed OR a dash or two garlic powder
- juice of 1 large lemon
- few dill fronds, cilantro or parsley, minced
- himalayan salt to taste
- 1/3 cup water, + more to thin
- pinch of cayenne
- 1 avocado
- 3 – 4 inches cucumber, peeled (leave the peel on if you like)
- a few sprigs cilantro and dill fronds
- 1 clove garlic
- juice of 1/2 lemon
- dash of onion powder
- salt to taste
- water as needed to thin
FALAFELS: If using dried chickpeas, place beans in large pot and cover with at least two inches of water (they will puff up), let soak overnight or at least 12 hours. No need to cook them, they will be softened enough to use in the recipe. If using canned chickpeas be sure to drain and rinse well by running the beans under cool running water. If using freshly cooked chickpeas you will need about 1 1/ 2 cups.
Preheat oven to 400. Coat your cast iron skillet or cookie sheet with olive oil.
In food processor/blender, combine all the ingredients for the falafel. Blend until blended and fairly smooth but not pureed, scraping down the sides as needed. Form patties into whatever size you like….
For medium patties (shown above): Scoop 4 tablespoons per patty…will yield approx. six 1/4 – 1/2 inch patties.
For small patties: Scoop 1 heaping tablespoon per patty…will yield approx. 9.
For mini patties or nuggets: Scoop 1 heaping teaspoon…will yield approx. 16.
Place patties on greased skillet/cookie sheet and bake for 10 minutes. Flip and bake for 15 minutes. Total cooking time 25 minutes. If you find that your falafels are not as browned as you like, place them under the broiler for a minute or two, just be sure to keep an eye on them so they don’t burn.
Store leftover falafels in an airtight container. They will soften overnight. To warm them up and return crispness again to the outside, place under broiler or in a toaster oven at a high temp for a minute or two while keeping an eye on them so they don’t burn.
On to the dressing…while the falafels are in the oven make your dressing of choice…
LEMON TAHINI DRESSING: In a small bowl, combine all ingredients and mix until well combined. Taste for seasoning and add more water as needed 1 tablespoon at a time or add more lemon juice. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to five days.
OR, for something different and refreshing…
AVOCADO-CUCUMBER DRESISNG: In food processor/blender, combine all the ingredients except for the water. Blend until smooth. Taste for seasoning. Add water a tablespoon or two at a time until desired consistency. Best chilled in the refrigerator before serving. Leftovers will hold up a day or two in a sealed container in the refrigerator. It may last a little longer but it’s gone by day two around my house.
Serve: Once patties are ready, make your salad, top with falafels and choice of dressing.
Nutrition information is calculated without dressing.