I am a big fan of Middle eastern/Mediterranean foods and flavors. My first job in a what most would consider professional kitchen was in an upscale Mediterranean restaurant. I still have occasional work nightmares from my time working there because I was very green, but eventually moved up to one of the lead chefs. In the time I spent there, it introduced me to some dishes and recipes that I was familiar with so I learned a lot.  Recipes using grape leaves like dolmas,  tzatziki, escalivada,  Spanish tapas and sauces like romesco and charmoula were new to me but became some of my favorites.

I do not believe we ever had falafel on the menu, I believe it’s more of a middle-eastern recipe, but you can usually order it at a Greek restaurant. Also, I recently have been trying to eat less protein from animals and more vegetarian dishes. Not planning on going vegetarian or vegan or anything like that but I don’t feel the need to eat meat every day. Falafel is a filling dish in which I really don’t miss not having meat in.

This is a recipe I recently tried that you can use for lunch, dinner or prep out for a meal plan week and assemble as you go. When I made this, I prepped some accompaniments like sliced cucumber, cherry tomatoes, green onions, mixed greens, just so I could quickly throw it together in a pita for a sandwich or together as a salad and take it to work.

Falafel

1 lb. dry Chickpeas

1 small Onion small diced

¼ cup Italian parsley chopped

5 Cloves Garlic minced

2 Tbsp flour or chickpea flour

1 ¾ tsp salt

1 tsp black pepper

1 tsp cayenne pepper

2 tsp cumin

1 tsp ground cardamom

Vegetable oil for frying

For the tahini lime dressing
2/3 cup plain yogurt
1/4 cup tahini
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 jalapeno, seeded and diced

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Instructions for Falafel

  1. Put the chickpeas in a large container or jar and cover with water at least 3 inches over the top. Let the chickpeas soak overnight at least 6-8hrs.
  2. Drain and rinse the chickpeas after they have completed soaking. In a food processor combine remaining ingredients except the vegetable oil used for frying. I do drizzle about 2 Tbsp of olive oil in the mix as well to help combine everything.
  3. Pulse the ingredients until a coarse consistency is reached. Kind of like a “wet sand” consistency.
  4. Once the desired consistency is reached and you can make a test ball to see if it will form well, then cover and let it sit in the fridge for about 1-2hrs.
  5. When ready, fill a deep skillet with 1 ½ inches of cooking oil (Vegetable, Peanut, Grapeseed etc.). Put on medium-low heat.
  6. While the oil is heating, use a medium sized scoop or 2 Tbsp to scoop the falafel mixture to 1-2-inch sized servings. You can make them bigger or smaller for your preference.
  7. After the mixture has been all portioned out, lightly wet your hands and roll the falafel into balls so they are uniform in size and won’t fall apart when frying.
  8. Turn the heat up to medium and start by putting 1 ball of falafel in to fry. This will help to make sure your oil is up to temp before adding the remaining falafel.
  9. Flip the balls half-way through cooking until golden brown on both sides.
  10. Pull the falafel from the oil with a slotted spoon or spatula and let dry on paper towel.

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Yogurt Tahini Dressing

  1. Whisk together Tahini, Yogurt, Garlic, Lime Juice,  olive oil, jalapeno (optional) salt and pepper to taste.
  2. Whisk in 1 Tbsp of water at a time if the dressing is too thick.

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Assembly 

To assemble, you can put in pita bread smeared with yogurt dressing, cucumber, kalamta olives, tomatoes, green onions, feta cheese, mixed greens. Drizzle more dressing if preferred on top.

Or alternatively place all ingredient on a bed of mixed greens for a falafel salad. I tried both variations with this recipe, you really can’t go wrong with either.

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