February 1, 2015 Leave your thoughts
Happy February, everyone! We’ve survived the first month of 2015…only eleven more to go before the year I graduate, the year I become an adult, the year where the rest of my life begins arrives.
That’s a while away, though. I’m still getting used to writing the number fifteen so frequently on my papers for school, and I still have so many recipes I want to try and share with all of you, too!
These falafel–or Middle Eastern crispy chickpea balls–are a dinner staple in my house. I get bored making the same thing over and over again, so for something to be a staple, it must be particularly special. And while it may look plain and simple, this dish is really anything but.
What I love falafel is that they can be made using very little kitchen equipment, require only about ten minutes of hands-on time, and usually yield a ton of leftovers, which are great for lunch and making people jealous. (Though I have brought in falafel for my friends and teachers, too, because I am just oozing with coolness. 😉 ) The combination of flavors and textures is wonderful, and everything on the plate is bursting with nutrition, from the protein in the chickpeas to the healthy fats in the sesame seeds to the vitamins in all of the fresh vegetables.
Usually, falafel are deep-fried and served in pita bread. Sure, you can opt to do one or both of these routes, but I prefer my falafel baked and served over a bed of veggies for a lighter meal and less mess.
Don’t worry, though. I promise all of the crunch is preserved in the oven! Just follow my advice and you will wind up with a deliciously crispy final meal.
Most bean burgers or fritters call for cooked beans; falafel, however, use dried beans that have been soaked. So, for your first step, make sure you soak your chickpeas in a water bath overnight and up to 24 hours to soften them up.
The next day, preheat the oven to 375 degrees and invite all of your remaining ingredients–including herbs, spices, onions, and garlic–to the party in the food processor and blend everybody up to get well-incorporated.
Then form into balls and place on a prepared baking sheet…
…and off to the oven they go! (It’s about to get hot in here.)
After thirty five minutes of baking, let the falafel cool for a few minutes before serving with carrots, lettuce, bell peppers, cucumbers, and a tasty tahini sauce. It’s as easy as that! (I promise.)
Yield 25-30 falafel (about 6-8 servings)
FOR THE FALAFEL:
2 cups of dried chickpeas, soaked in water for 24 hours
2 large handfuls (about 2 cups) of parsley, mint, basil, or spinach
1 small onion, roughly chopped
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
The juice of 1 small lemon (about 1-2 tbsp)
1 tablespoon of cumin
1 teaspoon of ground coriander
1 teaspoon of salt
1/2 teaspoon of ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
A pinch of cayenne (optional)
6 tablespoons of olive oil
Romaine lettuce, carrots, bell peppers, cucumbers, and other raw vegetables, to serve
FOR THE SIMPLE TAHINI SAUCE:
1/2 cup of tahini (roasted sesame paste)
The juice of 1 lemon (about 2-3 tablespoons)
A generous pinch of salt
FOR THE FALAFEL:
Before you do anything, make sure you soak the chickpeas in water overnight. This helps get the beans soft enough to go in the food processor and get mostly broken up, which is what you want. DO NOT use cooked beans–that will make your final falafel too mushy.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and grease a large rimmed baking sheet with 3 tablespoons of olive oil. This provides a nice base so the bottoms of the falafel will get super crispy.
In the bowl of a food processor, combine all of the remaining ingredients for the falafel with the exception of the remaining olive oil. I have a strong machine, so I don’t need to do much in the way of chopping/pushing the ingredients around. If you have a smaller/weaker device, make sure you chop everything up a little bit before adding it. If necessary, add a tablespoon or two of water to help get things moving. Try not to do this, though, because you want the falafel DRY so it’ll reach maximum crispiness in the oven.
Once everything is a uniform texture, get out a large ice cream scoop and form the falafel into balls. Use your hands to make them spherical, and place them on the prepared baking sheet. You should wind up with 25-30 falafel.
Pour the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil into a small dish and, using a brush, gently top each ball with a coating of oil.
Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes (or until golden-brown on the bottom), then flip over and continue cooking for another 15 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes before eating. Serve with a variety of yummy veggies and tahini sauce (instructions below).
FOR THE TAHINI SAUCE:
To make the tahini sauce, simply combine the tahini with the lemon juice and salt, and slowly add water until a smooth, slightly-runny texture is achieved. Tahini is just weird, so be patient and keep stirring.
What is one healthy dinner staple in your house? Leave me a comment here or on Facebook and let me know!