Falafel

I was never really motivated to make falafel from scratch until I grew weary of the hardened, tasteless falafel balls that I kept hopefully trying from the freezer section of various supermarkets. In hindsight, I’m not sure why it took me so long. I have loved falafel sandwiches ever since the days I prowled New York City’s Lower East Side and frequented Mamoun’s on many a late-night. Good falafel is hard to come by in the suburbs of DC so why not make my own? A quick Pinterest search directed me to Gimme Some Oven, a blog I enjoy and have cooked from before. And a cursorary scan of the recipe made me realize that the time was now.

With ingredients easily found in my pantry and a food processor, I was in business. The directions were simple (toss everything in the food processor and give it a whirl) and the requisite chill time told me that this was a perfect “make ahead” recipe–my favorite. I tweaked the recipe a bit, resulting in a better balance of spices and more balls–a win, win. During the refrigeration time I was able to take a hike (literally, as opposed to figuratively), chop up some favorite falafel toppings–tomato, onion, cucumber, lettuce–and put out the pita halves, harissa paste (or any hot sauce can substitute in a pinch) and tahini dressing.* The resulting meal would be perfect for a casual party, everyday lunch or light dinner. Any leftover falafel balls can be put in a ziplock bag and frozen for later use, although ours didn’t make it that far. They were too tempting to eat again the very next day. Enjoy!

Falafel

Falafel

Falafel Sandwich

Falafel Sandwich

Falafel
Yields 20
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Ingredients
  1. 6 cloves garlic, peeled
  2. 2 (15-ounce) cans chickpeas (a.k.a. garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained
  3. 1 1/2 c fresh parsley leaves, tightly-packed
  4. 1 c fresh cilantro leaves, tightly-packed
  5. 1/2 c diced white or red onion
  6. 1/3 c all-purpose flour
  7. 1 Tbls fresh lemon juice
  8. 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  9. 1 1/2 tsp salt
  10. 1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  11. 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  12. 4-5 tablespoons grapeseed oil (or another high-heat oil, such as canola or vegetable)
  13. For serving: pita bread, chopped Romaine lettuce, thinly-sliced red onions, diced tomatoes, harissa, tahini sauce*, tzatziki sauce and/or hummus
Instructions
  1. Add garlic, chickpeas, cilantro, parsley, onion, flour, lemon juice, baking powder, salt, cumin and black pepper to a food processor.
  2. Pulse until smooth and evenly mixed, stopping partway through to scrape down the sides of the bowl if needed.
  3. Transfer mixture to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap, so that the plastic is directly touching the top of the mixture (so that no air can enter). Refrigerate for 1-2 hours or longer, until chilled.
  4. Lay a large sheet of parchment paper out on a work surface. Remove the bowl with the chilled falafel mixture. Then measure out 2 tablespoons of the mixture, and roll the mixture into a ball with your hands. (I used a cookie scoop to make evenly-sized balls).
  5. Place the ball on the parchment paper, and gently flatten the ball slightly with your hand so that it is a little under 1/2-inch thick thick.
  6. Repeat with the remaining mixture until all of the falafel disks are prepared.
  7. Heat oil in a large cast-iron or heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat until it is shimmering. (If you add a drop of water to the oil, it should sizzle.)
  8. Carefully transfer 4 or 5 falafel disks to the hot oil (or more as long as there is space between each ball) and fry for 3-4 minutes per side, or until both sides of the disk are browned.
  9. Transfer to a paper-towel lined plate. Then repeat with the remaining falafel disks, adding extra oil to the pan, as needed.
  10. When all of the falafels are cooked, remove the pan from the heat.
  11. Serve the falafel warm however you'd like. (You can eat the falafels plain, served with hummus or tahini or tzatziki, in a salad, in a gyro, or in a simple pita sandwich as pictured above.
  12. To make the pita sandwich, fill half a pita with chopped lettuce, red onions, diced tomatoes, a few falafel, and then top with tahini sauce and spicy harissa paste.
Notes
  1. *To make a simple tahini sauce, add small amounts of water to 1/3 c of tahini until the desired consistency is reached. Finish with a squeeze of lemon, stir and serve.
Adapted from Gimme Some Oven
Adapted from Gimme Some Oven
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