Falafel Salad

I know, I know. I promised recipes for cookies(!) cakes(!) and squares(!) Tiny treats cut into santas and reindeers, candied pecans, and Christmas cake. Of course they're coming - the Christmas cake is soaking in dark rum as we speak! Nonetheless, I offer you this recipe, because if you're hiding in the closest trying to escape the holiday goods while shoveling a salad in your mouth, then we're on the same page. And we've got 2 weeks left until Christmas - how are we going to do this?


As some of you may know, I like to spend time at Odd Fellows Cafe. The ritual goes like this: I walk through the door, and a dapper looking man who is quite certainly better dressed than me greets me with a friendly 'hello'. I order the usual, a 12 oz decaf soy latte and a falafel salad, grab my table, and hunker down to work. I actually get a fair deal of writing accomplished in this humble spot. Something about the buzz of people chattering away, enjoying good food, puts me in a good place. Sometimes when I am having one-of-those-days, I like to order a couple of mimosas, although on those days, top-notch proofreading is essential.

So about the falafel salad - it's incredibly delicious, and very blog-worthy. So good that I tried to recreate it at home just so that I wouldn't have to get out of my PJ's and face the world. Sometimes I like to wear my PJ's all day. Often while I'm baking, and usually while I'm singing. And some days I just don't feel very social. On the rare occasion that Mr. H gets home from work at 8 or 9 pm, I've been known to go all day without saying a word - and I've got to admit, that's kind of weird. And even though my dog isn't a person, sometimes I catch myself having very lengthy conversations with him. Which is probably even weirder.

Yesterday, when I went downstairs to get the mail, someone said hello - people are so friendly in my building. I said hello back of course, but my voice didn't want to, and it did that weird screechy cracky thing.  The thing that happens when you don't speak all day, and by the look on his face, he clearly knew it. Obviously, a lady who wears her PJ's all day, talks to her dog, has a weird crackly voice and hides in her closet isn't insane(!?!?) And yes, I just called myself a lady.

Without a doubt, we need to discuss this salad in further detail. In my experience, a falafel usually comes in a pita, with toppings spilling all over onto your new pants - some delicious pickled onions and sumac - and is served by a large hairy man with a lot of chest hair from the local gyro truck outside of the skeezy club in the small rural  university town at 2 in the morning.

And now I find out that falafels are just as tasty without the pita and that weird hairy guy serving them up at 2am. Who would have thought?! From past experience, falafels have mostly tasted of chickpeas and spices, a little doughy on the inside and a little crispy on the outside from frying. I have now realized that if you make your falafel using dry chickpeas soaked over night, instead of the canned version, which are cooked, the falafel will be more crunchy. Which is how I like them. It's almost as if you are taking the delicious outside crunchy bits and scattering them throughout the falafel. These falafels are so delicious on their own, that it seems like a shame to bury them in a pita. I prefer them to be the star, showcased on top of the lettuce, with a little tomato and cucumber on the side. 

Below, I've provided a recipe for a quick and easy dressing. It's mostly a few ingredients that I had in my fridge. Feel free to use a different recipe for the dressing, tzatziki, etc. Odd Fellows does a lemony oil dressing on the salad, and then serves a side of tzatziki!




FALAFEL SALAD RECIPE (print)
makes 16 falafels
notes: It is important to buy dried chick peas (which are uncooked) and soak them for at least 24 hours. Substituting for canned chickpeas (which are cooked) will change the texture of the falafels. The uncooked/soaked chickpeas will give the falafel a nice crunch, whereas the canned ones will give the falafel a softer more bread-like texture. The more you grind the falafel mixture in the food processor, the easier it will be hold its shape, but less crunchy. Chickpeas are otherwise known as garbanzo beans. 

INGREDIENTS
1 3/4 cups dry chickpeas (garbanzo beans), soaked overnight
2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 small handful of parsley, chopped and stems removed
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander seeds, ground
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp lemon juice, or 1 small lemon
1/4 - 1/2 cup water
2 tbsp all purpose flour (enough to slightly hold the mixture together)
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup sesame seeds
vegetable oil for frying

DRESSING INGREDIENTS (makes a little more than 1/2 cup)
1/4 cup oil (canola, olive, safflower, or grapeseed)
2 tbsp lemon juice or 1 small lemon
1/4 cup yogurt (non-Greek)
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
salt

romaine lettuce, chopped
cherry tomatoes, halved
cucumber, sliced
onion, sliced
capers, drained

In the food processor or blender, whichever will get a smoother paste, pulse half of the chickpeas until they are broken into smaller pieces. Place into a large bowl.

Place the rest of the chickpeas into the food processor with the garlic, onion, parsley, cumin, coriander, cayenne, baking soda, salt, and lemon juice. Pulse until all of the ingredients resemble a paste. You may need to add some water to get the desired consistency, but do not add more than 1/2 cup. Add the paste to the bowl with the chickpea pieces, and stir in the flour, egg, and sesame seeds.

Grab a small handful of the chickpea mixture and roll into a ball. Place it onto the parchment paper. Continue in this manner until you have rolled all of the falafel balls. Place the baking sheet into the fridge and let sit for 1 hour. Some of the water will seep out onto the tray, this is normal.

In the mean time, place enough oil in a frying pan to cover 2/3 of the falafels. Turn the heat to med. Wait for the oil to fully heat before frying the falafels. A good test is flick a small drop of water into the oil, if it jumps and pops, then the oil is hot enough.

Remove the falafels from the fridge. Carefully slide with a spoon, 5 or 6 falafels at a time into the oil. Do not drop them into the oil or they will fall apart. Fry for a couple of minutes on each side or until the falafel has turned a medium shade of brown. Remove from the oil and place onto a paper towel. If the oil is too hot, the falafels will cook on the outside way quicker than on the inside. I would recommend frying one falafel first, and then adjust the temp accordingly. Also, it's worth noting that the oil will cool slightly after frying the first batch.

In a mason jar or any jar with a lid, add all of the dressing ingredients. Shake until combined.

To assemble the salad, add the lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber, onion and capers to a plate. Place a few falafels on top and drizzle with the dressing. The dressing will serve 4 people, so if you have more guests, double the recipe. Falafels are best eaten the day of.


30 comments:

  1. I'm pinning this and adding the ingredients to my grocery list! There is a cafe at my office that makes a falafel salad and I LOVE it. I've always wanted to try it at home and now I have the guidance I need :).

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  2. Love this idea! I cannot wait to make this for lunches this week. Thanks for the awesome recipe! xo

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  3. I love falafel but have to admit I have only ever made them with canned chickpeas - you have convinced me that I must try dried ones!

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  4. I DO love falafel minus the pita and of course the hairy dude and skeezy college late night vibe. Hooray for wearing PJs, talking to the cat and eating a delicious lunch all in the privacy of your own home. This looks so delicious.

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  5. I'm glad you veered away from the red & green for this. If I could only have this for lunch today... it looks perfectly delicious!

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    1. haha! for now. I think I might just pop down to my local spot and have me one. So good.

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  6. I love falafel and the recipe looks delicious! I've made them before but I think it was with canned chick peas. So, in this recipe you don't cook the beans before processing? Just soak? I want to make sure! Thanks in advance! :)

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    1. Yep. Soak the dry chick peas for 24 hours in cold water. Pulse in the food processor with other ingredients, and then fry.

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  7. We have lots of falafel places in Berlin but the ones they sell never look this delicious. Seriously, how do you always manage to make food look so amazing?

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    1. Thanks Mina. A lot of time and dedication ;)

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  8. Heather, these look really great. Will definitely have a go at making these. Thanks

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  9. I tried the recipe today, falafels where very tasty but a bit dry. Any suggestions why? I soaked chickpeas for a bit less than 24 hours by a few hours, could this be the reason. Thanks a lot for sharing your recipes!

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    1. You could try adding another egg, or adding some oil to the mixture. Although, you have to be careful they don't become too wet or they will fall apart during frying. The falafels in this recipe are definitely a little dryer and crunchier than your typical recipe that calls for canned chickpeas. Were they dry just after frying, or the next day?

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  10. hi dear...........am in Beirut Lebanon and falafel is a popular veggie snack.It is never ever ever made from canned chickpeas but always from soaked peas. When they use sesame seeds they are dipped in a plate with the seeds. When they start coloring it is sign that the falafel is done

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  11. side note too falafel is not the food that sits around well. If not consumed right away it just gets soft and not tasty. I have never seen it served the next day

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    1. Falafels are best eaten the day of, very true.

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  12. It looks so tasty!! Thanks for your recipe. One question: can i use olive oil instead of vegetable oil to fry them with?

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    1. The ideal temperature for frying is between 350 and 375F. If you are going to use olive oil for deep frying, make sure that it is a 'light' or 'extra light' olive oil with a smoke point around 465F. You could possibly get away with using a 'virgin' olive oil with a smoke point of 390F. Definitely do not use an 'extra virgin' olive oil. The smoke point is 375F, and thus the nutritional and flavor components in the oil will start to break down.

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  13. Today i made falafel following all the insructions, and they were quite dry...

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    1. The falafel in this recipe are on the crispier dryer side, and because I use soaked dry beans, they will be a little more dry than if you were using canned chickpeas, which are softer and mushier. Depends which texture you are looking for. This is the nature of the recipe. You could try grinding the chickpeas a little finer. That might help.

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  14. Anonymous04 July, 2013

    would it be possible to cook these in the oven instead of frying them?

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    1. I haven't tried, but I don't see why not. I would probably try baking a couple at first to see if they turn out. Try baking them at 375ºF, and check them after 15 minutes and then every 5 minutes until they are done. I would love to know how they turn out!

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    2. Anonymous07 July, 2013

      Thanks for the reply! I will definitely have to try this at after the heat of summer is gone. It's so hot in my house right now we can't turn the oven on. I'll let you know how they turn out.

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  15. Thank you very much, I am really gonna try!!

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