Sunday, February 05, 2017

Falafel Salad

I.  Love.  Falafel.  Not just because I'm a "good vegetarian," but because it's freakin' delicious.  The kiddos at my work even love it - our cook makes little patties from scratch and serves them with sliced cucumbers, grape tomatoes, kalamata olives, pita, and plenty of tzatziki and hummus for dipping.  (Kids like anything they can dip, right?)  My one and only complaint about falafel sandwiches has always been how difficult and messy they are to eat - no matter how careful I am, my pita always seems to tear in too many places, and my beautifully-constructed sandwich tumbles onto my plate into a messy (albeit delicious) pile.  If I end up eating my falafel with a fork anyway, why not up the veggie quota and serve it salad-style?  Enjoy!  

YIELD: 4 quart-sized salads

  • 1 cup dried chickpeas, soaked overnight
  • 1/2 large yellow onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 - 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 6 cloves garlic, divided
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 4-6 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • canola oil for frying
  • 6 tbsp warm water
  • 6 tbsp tahini
  • 2 1/2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tsp honey or agave nectar
  • 1/2 large red onion, sliced
  • 1 large English cucumber, sliced
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes, sliced
  • 2-3 hearts of romaine, shredded

  1. Make the falafel: drain the chickpeas.  Combine the chickpeas, yellow onion, parsley, cilantro, salt, cayenne, 4 cloves garlic, cumin, and baking powder in a food processor and process until blended but not pureed.  Sprinkle in the flour 1 tbsp at a time and pulse, until the dough forms a ball and is no longer sticky.  Heat the canola oil in a frying pan to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.  Form the falafel mixture into 20 small balls and fry, 5 at a time, until golden brown.  Drain and cool on paper towels.
  2. Make the tahini sauce: combine water, tahini, lemon juice, honey, and remaining 2 cloves garlic in a pint-sized mason jar.  Puree and emulsify the dressing using a handheld stick blender.  Season with salt.  (Alternately, puree and emulsify the dressing ingredients in a blender or mini food processor.)
  3. Pack the salads: divide the tahini sauce evenly among 4 tall quart-sized containers.  Layer the red onion, cucumber, tomato, and romaine in the jars.  Divide the falafel evenly among 4 snack-size zip-top bags for each salad.  Refrigerate until serving.
  4. Enjoy your salad: invert your salad onto a plate or into a bowl.  Top with falafel.
TIME-SAVING TIPS: Substitute your favorite prepared falafel mix for the homemade falafel.  Substitute your favorite hummus, thinned with a little water, for the tahini sauce.  

SPECIAL DIET SWAPS: This salad is vegan and nut-free as-is (be sure to choose agave nectar for vegan diners.)  For gluten-free diners, choose products labeled "gluten-free," and substitute your favorite gluten-free all-purpose baking mix for the all-purpose flour.

Food styling, photography, and infographics by Robert Campbell.

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