For many years falafel was one of those foods that I absolutely loved, but never considered attempting to make at home. Not only was I clueless on how to make them, but I assumed I could never make them as well as they do in restaurants. As is often the case in these situations, I quickly proved myself wrong once I mustered up the courage to give falafel a go at home. They were easy, they were delicious, and best of all I could make them exactly to my liking: crispy on the outside but moist on the inside, brimming with flavor from spices and fresh herbs.
If you have tried my two chickpea veggie burgers (a curried version and a quinoa falafel version), then you will be very familiar with the process of making falafel. Essentially, you combine chickpeas with a variety of spices, herbs, flour, and a little bit of oil in a food processor to create a thick mixture. Then all you do is create small, rounded discs out of the mixture and lightly fry them up in a bit of oil for a few minutes on each side. It’s really that easy. I love making a big batch and freezing them for meals throughout the week.
Now that I’ve discovered the beauty of homemade falafel, the possibilities are endless: I throw them in pita sandwiches, add them to quinoa bowls, or I use them to make this favorite salad of mine. You really can’t go wrong with the combination of warm falafel, kalamata olives, toasted pine nuts and fresh veggies, especially when there is a creamy tahini-lemon dressing involved. Every bite is heavenly.
Now that I’m in the midst of half marathon training (I’m up to 8 miles!) I’ve got less time for cooking but still want healthy, protein-packed homemade meals. This falafel salad has been a total lifesaver, especially when I already have some falafel in the freezer. What are your favorite meals for busy evenings? I’d love to hear!
- For the falafel (makes 8-12 depending on size):
- 1 large clove of garlic, skin still on
- 1 15 oz. can cooked chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
- Pinch of cayenne (optional)
- 2 teaspoons sesame seeds (optional)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- Handful fresh flat-leaf parsley
- Handful fresh cilantro
- Tablespoon vegetable oil
- For the salad:
- 4 cups mixed greens
- 1 cup thinly sliced red cabbage
- ½ cup sliced cherry tomatoes
- ¼ cup sliced cucumber
- ¼ cup sliced kalamata olives
- 2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
- For the dressing:
- 1 tablespoon tahini
- Juice of half a lemon
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1-2 tablespoons water (see directions below)
- Pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Place the garlic clove (with skin still on) onto a dry pan and toast over low heat for about 5 minutes, flipping occasionally. Once it has become aromatic and lightly browned, remove from pan and remove skin. Place in food processor.
- Add all of the remaining falafel ingredients into a food processor. Pulse until everything is combined.
- Dust a small amount of flour onto your clean hands and form the ingredients into small discs (Depending on how large you make them, you'll likely have between 8-12 falafel total. If you have leftover falafel, freeze them at this stage).
- Add the tablespoon of oil to a non-stick pan over medium heat.
- Fry the falafel for about 5 minutes per side, checking them occasionally to ensure they don't burn. The falafel will be done once they are crisp and golden on each side.
- Assemble the two salads with all of the salad ingredients and top with 3-4 falafel per salad.
- Whisk together all of the dressing ingredients in a separate bowl. Depending on how thick your tahini is, add 1-2 tablespoons of water until you reach your desired consistency (slightly runny). Drizzle the dressing onto the two salads and serve immediately.