Meatless Monday - Falafel

>> Monday, August 3, 2009

When we lived in Boulder, CO, I was surrounded by shops selling falafel, but I never tried it. Then we moved to Baton Rouge, LA, and again, I was surrounded by fantastic restaurants selling Lebanese food and falafel. Still didn't try it. Then we moved to northern Wyoming. Not a falafel shop for hundreds of miles. Finally - finally! - I tried falafel on a trip back to visit family in Mississippi. Guess what? I liked it!

Have you heard of falafel? It's a little patty made primarily of chickpeas with some other good stuff thrown in for good measure. Typically, it is deep fried. I love the fried version - it gets a crispy crust that I just can't quite replicate in my non-fried version - but I am not fond of frying.

I'm not fond of chickpeas, but surprisingly I love both falafel and hummus. Both of these dishes have chickpeas as their main ingredient, but they also have other very strong flavors present that temper the chickpea flavor. Chickpeas, like most beans, are a kind of superfood, so I eat both falafel and hummus with no guilt.

I am constantly fiddling with my falafel recipe and trying new ones. My current incarnation comes compliments of Cooking Light - with my own twist, of course. I rarely remember to soak my chickpeas overnight, so my recipe calls for a can of chickpeas, but I have made falafel starting with dried chickpeas with good results.

If you've not tried it before, give my oven baked falafel a try! Stick it in a pita or on a piece of naan with a little tzatziki sauce (the sauce below is not a classic tzatziki, but it's really good) and some tomato, and you've got a fantastic meal!

Baked Falafel Pitas

1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp pepper
1/3 cup fresh bread crumbs
2 garlic cloves, chopped
3 large egg whites

1 cup Greek yogurt
4 TBSP tahini
1 clove garlic, minced
salt to taste

Preheat oven to 350 F. To prepare the falafel, combine chickpeas through garlic in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Spoon mixture into a bowl. Add egg whites and stir until combined. Let stand 15 minutes. Spray a baking sheet lightly with cooking spray. Spoon falafel mixture onto baking sheet and flatten slightly with a spoon to make about 16 - 1/2" thick patties. Spray patties lightly with cooking spray again. Cook for about 10 min. Flip patties over and cook for 5 more minutes.

To prepare sauce, simply mix all of the ingredients together.

Smear some sauce inside a pita and stuff with falafel and whatever toppings are desired. Enjoy!


Casey August 3, 2009 at 7:04 AM  

I just discovered falafel at the local pita place. There was something in it I didn't quite love. Seeing your recipe, I am wondering if it was the cilantro. Hmmm. Maybe I will try making my own one of these days.

Sagan August 3, 2009 at 8:08 AM  

I have such a huge infatuation with chickpeas! Falafel would be really tasty to make (of the healthier variety).

La Nouvelle Femme August 3, 2009 at 9:09 AM  

Mmm, I love falafel! I've never thought to make them on my own though. I may have to try it soon.

MammaDucky August 3, 2009 at 1:02 PM  

Mmmmmm falafel. Falafel and hummus are two of my favorite things in the world!!

OctoberH August 3, 2009 at 8:29 PM  

MMMMM. I make falafel with a little box of mix from the greek deli, but they aren't really all that good.
So canned garbanzos work? Thanks for the recipe!

Super Healthy Kids August 4, 2009 at 4:45 AM  

I've heard the word falafel, but didn't know what it was. Thanks for enlightening me. I am pretty sure I would like it.

Donielle @ Naturally Knocked Up August 6, 2009 at 4:02 AM  

That actually sounds like something I could give a try! Thanks for posting!

Lori August 6, 2009 at 12:09 PM  

This looks so great! Honestly I would take falafel over meat most days. Checking out the ingredients I have everything to make them too. I found cilantro at the feira last night which is a somewhat of a rare thing. Can't wait to try it!

RickyRae August 7, 2009 at 7:35 AM  

I love chickpeas and will need to give this one a try!

susiep August 8, 2009 at 5:45 PM  

Mmmm. I LOVE falafel. One of my all time favourite foods. Yet, I always make it from a powder in a box. Thanks for the recipe. I've got some chickpeas that I'm wondering what to do with. :)

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