20 April 2013

Falafel with Tahini Sauce

For the past week or so we've had some decent spring weather here in Indiana. We've even had a few wonderful midwestern thunder storms! Even though the past couple of days have been cold, the general warming makes me long for bright, clean flavors on my palate. The easiest way to do that in the spring is with fresh herbs.

This falafel recipe is the second I've tried to make at home. The first one tasted alright, but it didn't hold together at all. This one, modified slightly from the the recipe of the amazing Dreena Burton, is freaking fabulous! It comes together in a jiffy thanks to a food processor, uses only ingredients you can easily find at your local grocery store, and can be gluten-free (as long as you make sure the oats, yes oats, are gluten-free and don't use pita when you eat it). Plus, since you use almost no oil when cooking it, it's significantly lower in fat than most falafel recipes, which tend to call for deep-frying or frying in a lot of oil. Finally, if you opt for it, you can make the flavorful tahini sauce I use as well (also modified slightly from Dreena's version).



Falafel with Tahini Sauce
Ingredients for Falafel
2 cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1/3 c. fresh parsley, packed
1/3 c. fresh cilantro, packed
1 small onion, quartered
3 cloves garlic
1-2 stalks celery
3/4 c. quick-cooking oats (uncooked)
2 tsp. cumin
1/4-1/2 tsp. coriander
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
1/4 - 1/3 c. chickpea flour

Ingredients for Tahini Sauce
2 T. lemon juice
1/2 c. water
1/8 tsp. paprika
1/8 tsp. chipotle pepper
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. agave
3/4 c. tahini

Directions
1. For falafel patties, pour all ingredients into a food processor except for chickpea flour and process until well-mixed. Just keep it going, it should look like this.
2. Once done, season the chickpea flour with a bit of salt, then lightly coat 2ish T. of dough at a time with the flour (dust off the excess).
3. Brush a non-stick skillet with a little big of oil, then pan-fry the coated patties over medium heat until brown on each side.
4. For the tahini sauce, add all ingredients, making sure to add the tahini last, then blend with an immersion blender.

Helpful Hints
  • Admittedly the ingredient list is a bit long, but the flavor that this recipe yields is totally worth it. 
  • If your dough is too dry, add water 1 tsp. at a time. Alternately, if you like your falafel a bit more firm (these are soft), add a bit more oats. 
  • You can up the heat in these by adding more red pepper. I like this balance of flavors, but it's really up to you.
  • We eat this with the tahini sauce and lettuce on whole wheat pita, but you can omit or add whatever you'd like. We've often talked about adding in some chopped cucumber. You can also do just plain tahini or a yogurt sauce in place of the tahini sauce I have above.
  • If you omit the pita completely, these taste delicious wrapped in lettuce. To do this, simply don't chop the lettuce and wrap the falafel, tahini, and any other toppings in a whole lettuce leaf. This will  make this a gluten-free meal. 
  • These should freeze very well. Although we've not done it (we eat the leftovers the next day), there is nothing in the patties that would do poorly in the freezer. 

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