Hmmm…falafels. We love falafels and made it a point to get an appetizer order of them anytime we ate at out favorite Middle Eastern restaurant Taz (which closed their physical restaurant and have now turned into a food truck that I have to try to hunt down!)
I’m not sure why they did that; maybe they thought the overhead was too high on the regular building? Or traffic at the physical location was bad? Either way I’m a bit saddened by the turn of events.
But back to falafels, they’re basically made of spiced ground up chickpeas that have been fried resulting in a crunchy browned exterior and firm textured middle. I try to avoid deep frying (although delicious it’s not the healthiest option) so I opted to lightly pan fry these until the outsides were golden brown. The only issue with panfrying is that the sides don’t really get “browned” but it’s a small concession. I’ve also heard of people baking these which would take care of that issue but I haven’t tried it yet.
I attempted to make my own tahini dressing…twice. Neither of my tries was very tasty *frustrating*. I was experimenting with a mix of yogurt/tahini/lemon juice/garlic/bit of sugar/water but after two failures and the fact that at this point it was 9:45pm and I still hadn’t made nor cooked the falafels yet I gave in and resorted to using store bought. I had also started at 8 and made two side dishes for my work cookout the next day.
Do you find you do the same thing? You love food so much and get so many ideas that you have a tendency to go a little crazy? While I volunteered to make a side for work, I didn’t have to do two of them. I’m that person that people tell they don’t have to bring anything but it’s like a physical impossibility for me. I always show up with something, even if it’s just a tasty cheese and some crackers that I saw at the market. I’m also guilty of being the one at parties offering to chop onions, etc in the kitchen even though the host/hostess insists that they’re fine (although that’s not entirely for altruistic reasons – outdoor barbecues are hot so it gives me a chance to escape into the A/C). But if you also do things like that, take heart, you are not alone 🙂
So for this recipe either buy tahini dressing (I got mine from Whole Foods in the refrigerated produce section) or make your own – and if you have an awesome tahini dressing recipe help me out and let me know/post it in the comments!
- 2/3 cup dried chickpeas, soaked overnight (I actually ended up soaking mine from 8 am to 9pm and it worked fine)
- ¼ onion, chopped into 3 or 4 pieces (I get really small ones from my CSA so I just used one of those)
- 1 Tbsp parsley
- 1 Tbsp cilantro
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 t cayenne
- ¾ teaspoon cumin
- ¾ teaspoon coriander
- 3 cloves of garlic
- Lettuce, chopped for Salad (I used 2 hearts of romaine)
- 1 tomato, diced
- 1 red onion, diced
- 4 Tbsp Tahini Dressing
- 1 tsp grapeseed oil (for cooking)
- Oil Spray
- 2 whole wheat pocketless pitas
- Combine chickpeas through garlic in food processor and process until well combined (I did a few high power bursts and then processed it longer on low just to make sure it was thoroughly combined). You’ll probably have to stop a few times to scrape down the sides of the bowl to make sure everything is ground.
- Moisten hands slightly and form mixture into 16 small balls.
- Over medium low, heat 1 tsp grapeseed oil. Place falafels into pan and press down lightly so they flatten slightly. Cook for about 4 minutes – you may have to do this in batches (although I’ll admit that I’m impatient and did it all in one). Spray top of falafels with oil spray and flip. Tip – After using a small spatula to loose the bottom of the falafels, I employed the use of the non-pointy ends of wooden skewers to help me flip them.
- Cook for another 4 minutes or until browned on both sides. Remove from pan and cut each falafel in half (they should have a firm texture). Heat pocketless pitas - I put mine in the pan and let warm for about a minute or two, then flipped and warmed the other side. Cut each pita in half, and each half into 3 triangular portions (you'll get 6 triangles per pita).
- Place lettuce in bowl and toss with 1 Tbsp tahini dressing per serving. Put 3 triangle pitas with each serving. Top with 8 falafel halves (or 4 whole falafels), then sprinkle diced tomato and diced red onion over the whole salad.
The falafels themselves were pretty tasty and I enjoyed the pitas with it. I actually lightly brushed each side of my pitas with oil and sprinkled za’atar on them before heating, but only because I had some za’atar hanging out that I’ve been needing to use, it’s not a completely necessary step. My enjoyment of the salad was a bit diminished because I was haunted by the tahini troubles, haunted I tell you (I probably shouldn’t obsess over things like I do sometimes).
Overall though, I enjoyed the salad and it was a nice twist since I don’t often cook Middle Eastern inspired dishes. Bonus: I had 2 pitas in my freezer that I needed to use up so that took care of that (and it was one of the reasons we ate this in salad form versus sandwich form).
And if you have a good tahini dressing don’t forget to send it to me!