I became a fan of falafel the day I sunk my teeth into one of those warm balls of crunchy-on-the-outside, soft-on-the-inside, pillows of delight at an Israeli restaurant in Chicago on my lunch break. Sorry I don’t have a photo. I will take one the next time we make them and post it.
My husband is part Lebanese and grew up eating all sorts of Mediterranean foods. He’s gotten me into eating some foods that I normally wouldn’t have tried. Falafel with tahini sauce has become a cheap, healthy and easy dinner for us.
Chickpeas (garbanzo beans) is one of the main ingredients in falafel and is a great source of iron, protein, fiber, manganese and folate. There are also pecans in this recipe, so there’s a little more protein for ya! All around, it’s a great side dish or meal for any day of the week.
I found this recipe online and tweaked it a little to my liking and to sub in some essential oils for the dried herbs (dried herbs have much less flavor and aren’t as potent!).
1 15-oz can chickpeas/garbanzo beans, rinsed & patted dry
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 shallots, minced (~ 3/4 cup | or sub white onion)
2 Tbsp finely chopped pecans (or sesame seeds)
1 1/2 tsp cumin, to taste (or cumin essential oil)
1/4 tsp each sea salt and black pepper, to taste
2 drops Cardamom essential oil (send me a message for my brand)
2 drops Coriander essential oil (send me a message for my brand)
4 Tbsp whole wheat flour
3-4 Tbsp grape seed oil
Tahini Sauce for serving (see recipe below)
OPTIONAL: Panko bread crumbs for coating
Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add enough oil to generously coat the pan – about 2 Tbsp. Swirl it around to coat.
Add chickpeas, parsley, shallot, garlic, pecans, cumin, salt, pepper, coriander and cardamom oils to a food processor and mix/pulse to combine, scraping down sides as needed. You want a a crumbly dough, not a paste.
Add flour, 1 Tablespoon at a time, and pulse/mix to combine until you can mold the dough into a ball, but not sticky. Taste and adjust seasonings as necesary.
Scoop out rounded Tablespoon amounts and gently form into 11-12 small discs (about 1/2” thick or more).
OPTIONAL STEP: Sprinkle on panko bread crumbs and gently press to adhere – flip and repeat. This will produce a crispier crust but is optional.
Once the oil is hot, add only as many falafel as will fit very comfortably in the pan at a time – about 5.
Cook for a total of 4-5 minutes, flipping when the underside is deep golden brown. Serve warm with tahini sauce or hummus, inside a pita atop a bed of greens.
(NOTES: Leftovers will keep in the refrigerator covered for several days. Freeze after that to keep fresh for up to 1 month.)
TAHINI SAUCE FOR FALAFEL
1 cup tahini sesame seed paste
3/4 cup lukewarm water, or more for consistency
3 cloves raw garlic (or 5 cloves roasted garlic)
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (or more to taste)
1/4 tsp salt (or more to taste)
2 tsp fresh parsley, minced (optional)
Put tahini paste, lukewarm water, garlic, lemon juice and salt together in a food processor or blender till sauce is creamy and ivory-colored. You may need to scrape the sides of the processor periodically during processing.
After a few minutes of blending, sauce will turn into a rich, smooth paste. If mixture is too thick, slowly add more water until it reaches the preferred consistency.
Taste often during the blending process; add more lemon juice or salt, if desired.