For the past few months, I’ve been meaning to make a go at making my own falafel. I have a favorite middle eastern restaurant, and a restaurant/salad shop that makes a darn good falafel salad. Amsterdam Falafel is located in both downtown DC and Annapolis. It’s kind of one of those places that if you’re still in college, it would be where you’d go after the bars close. Me well, I go for lunch.
SweetGreen is an awesome salad shop that makes the best salads. Really and truly, if you are a salad person, check out SweetGreen and their tahini/falafel salad. I’m even more passionate about them after coming back from a trip to Philly and another “make you own salad shop” was located next to my hotel. It was a “bad” night and day comparison. I almost couldn’t eat my salad. For SweetGreen think fresh foods, local, organic meats, the best veggies, etc. I’m sorry I don’t have a picture of SweetGreen, but try it out if you have one near you.
Falafel isn’t hard to make, just more time-consuming. I think it’s definitely worth the time it takes though. This time I made a falafel salad, you can also stuff falafel into a pita with grains and veggies. Just as delicious. Normally, falafel is fried. Since I am not a fan of fried foods, that meant my goal was to achieve a slightly crispy crust on the baked falafel. I did manage to get a slightly crispy crust, but they are softer overall then your typical falafel.
If you’re looking for a vegetarian lunch or dinner, the chickpeas/garbanzo beans are the key ingredient and are very healthy. They are high in fiber, zinc, iron, folate, molybdemum, manganese and protein. Traditionally, bulgur is used as the main grain. If you’re gluten intolerant, you can substitute quinoa or brown rice. It just doesn’t have the same feel. You’re getting added protein, fiber, healthy carbs and other micronutrients from both.
Baked Falafel (Serves 4):
15oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup red onion, minced
1/4 cup parsley, minus 1 tbsp for tahini dressing
1/4 cup cilantro, minus 1 tbsp for tahini dressing
1 tbsp whole wheat flour/gluten-free flour
1.5 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp salt
8 cups mixed greens
1 cup uncooked bulgur, prepared according to the directions (use quinoa if gluten-free)
1 cup cucumber, chopped
1/4 cup red onion, chopped
1 cup chopped tomato
20 kalamata olives
4 tbsp feta cheese
1/4 cup tahini paste
1/4 cup water
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp parsley
1 tbsp cilantro
salt and pepper
4 tbsp hummus
For the baked falafel:
1.Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees and grease a baking dish/sheet.
2. Drain and rinse chickpeas.
3. Add the chickpeas, and the rest of the falafel ingredients to a food processor.
4. Process the ingredients until mashed and combined, but not pureed. Scrape the ingredients down the sides in between pauses. Total process time is around 1 minute. The mixture will appear a bit chunky, wet and a bit sloppy.
4. Roll the falafel mixture into a ball. It should make soft 12 balls (I know that sounds terrible).
5. Place on the baking sheet and bake for a total of 20min. At the 10min mark, gently flip over.
6. There will be a slight brown crust when done.
For the Salad:
1. Cook the bulgur/quinoa according to the directions.
2. Chop the vegetables
3. Place 2 cups of greens onto each plate, 1/4 of the grains, and divide the rest of the vegetables, olives and cheese between the 4 plates.
For the Tahini Dressing:
1. Whisk the ingredients together and set aside.
Top each salad with 1 tbsp hummus