One of my lifers and I used to frequent one of the best Mediterranean places I've been to, Pita Hot, when we all lived the happy little grad school-wife life in sunny SoCal. We ate out a lot, actually, as our husbands were MIA, which means we could eat whatever we wanted whenever we wanted! We had our favorite taco, burger, sausage, waffles, brunch, pasta, and cupcake place all nailed down. Gimme all the food...
I've tried my hand at falafel several different times, trying different recipes and methods, and I definitely believe I've nailed it. I've converted my husband to a lover of Meatless Mondays, and this has been the most welcome little addition! My kids even loved the falafel, and dipping it in the tzatziki and hummus. It helps that these light, crisp little patties are fried, but the Greek flavors are definitely kick-fanny. Chickpeas, all of the herbs and spices you could ever want, and a touch of lemon all fried up for a wonderful little vegan treat that won't make you miss the meat. Ugh, I'm sorry, I couldn't stop.
I love using dried, uncooked chickpeas. Yes, you have to soak them overnight, but they really produce the fluffiest texture. Your other option is to use canned beans, then add flour to keep them all together, and they're a little more dense, mushy, and just not as perfect as these.
And please, if you're going to make falafel, fry it. No baking here.
The tabbouleh salad is really wonderful, too! So forgiving and adaptable to what you have and your personal preferences. Go big on the tomato, parsley, mint, whatever you like. I just provided guidelines, really. Make it your own and get comfortable experimenting in the kitchen (wink, wink)!
This can all be prepped ahead of time, just fry the falafel right before serving.
You cannot forget the hummus and tzatziki! Homemade hummus and tzatziki are so much better than store-bought. This is honestly the best hummus in the world. Not once have I served it and not been asked for the recipe. Throw it all together as a platter or make individual wraps with pita bread. Just eat it.
Falafel with Couscous Tabbouleh Salad
- 1 c dried uncooked garbanzo beans (chickpeas)
- 4 green onions
- 1 handful fresh parsley leaves
- 1 handful fresh cilantro leaves
- 6 sprigs of dill weed
- several mint leaves optional
- 2 Tablespoon salt
- 1 ½ Tablespoon coriander
- 1 Tablespoon cumin
- pinch cayenne depending on your preference for spice
- 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 Tablespoon garlic minced
- 1 Tablespoon baking powder
- canola oil for frying
couscous tabbouleh salad
- 1 c instant Israeli couscous
- 1 c water or broth
- ¼ Tablespoon salt
- 1 handful fresh curly-leaf parsley leaves finely chopped
- handful mint leaves finely chopped
- 2 roma tomatoes chopped
- ½ cucumber chopped
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
- salt to taste
- Place dried chickpeas in large bowl and cover with several inches of water. Allow to soak 24 hours, check water level before going to bed and refill as necessary to keep covered with plenty of water. The next day, drain chickpeas and lay out to dry on towel.
- Prepare tabbouleh salad. Bring 1 c water or broth and salt to boil, add couscous and stir. Remove from heat and cover. Let sit about 15 minutes, or until all of the liquid is absorbed and couscous is tender and fluffy. Chill couscous in covered bowl in refrigerator.
- Combine all falafel ingredients except baking powder and canola oil in food processor. Depending on the size of your food processor, you may need to process ingredients in batches. Chill processed mixture at least one hour.
- Combine remaining tabbouleh ingredients together once couscous has chilled. Continue to chill in refrigerator.
- Heat 1" of canola oil in large pot or frying pan over medium heat until water immediately sizzles when flicked into oil.
- Mix baking powder into chilled falafel mixture. Form falafel into equal-sized balls, slightly flattening into discs about ½" thick.
- Place falafel into hot oil, taking care not to crowd the pan too much, or oil temperature will drop. Each falafel should immediately begin sizzling when placed in oil, otherwise oil is not hot enough.
- Once each falafel begins to brown up the sides, flip over (2-3 minutes each side). When each falafel has lightly browned, let drain on paper towel-lined plate.
- Serve hot falafel with tabbouleh, tzatziki sauce, hummus, over a salad or in a pita wrap.