Falafel Salad

I know, I know. I promised recipes for cookies, cakes, and squares. Tiny treats cut into mini 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 closet trying to avoid the holiday treats 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.

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 2 am. 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 overnight, 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

salad serves 4

notes: It is important to buy dried chickpeas and soak them for at least 24 hours. Substituting for canned chickpeas 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 texture. 

INGREDIENTS

1 3/4 cups dry chickpeas, 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 large 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 plain yogurt

1 tsp granulated sugar

1 tbsp apple cider vinegar

dash of salt

SALAD INGREDIENTS

8 cups romaine lettuce, chopped

1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved

1 cucumber, sliced

1/2 onion, sliced

2 tbsp capers, drained

In the food processor or blender, 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, lemon juice and water. Pulse until it resemble a paste. Add to the large bowl with the chickpea pieces. Stir in the flour, egg, and sesame seeds.

Scoop a rough 1/4 cup of the falafel mixture and roll into a ball. Place 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.

Add the vegetable oil to a large frying pan, and heat on medium. You want enough oil to cover half of the falafel while frying.

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.