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Like it hot? Sub a Fresno chile for the red bell pepper for some extra kick.
- 8 ounces dried chickpeas, soaked overnight, drained
- ½ onion, coarsely chopped
- ½ small red bell pepper, coarsely chopped
- 3 tablespoons chickpea flour
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon Hungarian sweet paprika
- Vegetable oil (for frying; about 8 cups)
- Warm thick pita with pockets (for serving)
Pulse chickpeas in a food processor, scraping down sides as needed, until they resemble finely chopped nuts (the texture should be uneven with some slightly larger pieces of chickpeas visible), about 1 minute. Scrape into a large bowl.
Pulse onion, bell pepper, and garlic in food processor, scraping down sides as needed, until coarsely chopped, about 1 minute. Mix into chickpeas, then mix in chickpea flour, cumin, salt, coriander, smoked paprika, Hungarian sweet paprika, and baking powder. Form into ping-pong-size balls.
Pour oil into a large heavy pot to a depth of 3". Fit pot with thermometer and heat oil over medium-high until thermometer registers 330°. Working in batches, cook falafel, turning occasionally, until deep brown and crisp, about 5 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain and let sit 5 minutes.
Serve falafel with salad, tahini sauce, and pita.
Do Ahead: Falafel mixture can be made 5 hours ahead. Cover and store at room temperature. When ready to fry, stir to loosen mixture and form into balls.
Nutritional ContentCalories (kcal) 190 Fat (g) 10 Saturated Fat (g) 1 Cholesterol (mg) 0 Carbohydrates (g) 20 Dietary Fiber (g) 6 Total Sugars (g) 4 Protein (g) 7 Sodium (mg) 660Reviews Section
Falafel balls are a common Middle Eastern snack, usually made of chickpeas or fava beans. You can find them as filling for sandwiches and wraps, or atop salads and grain bowls for a textural protein boost. Perhaps most commonly, you’ll find falafel as the filling to a pita sandwich, along with other Middle Eastern staple flavors like hummus, tahini, cucumber, tomato and onion.
The falafel balls themselves usually incorporate a variety of traditional Middle Eastern spices like coriander and cumin, plus a boost of aromatic flavor from parsley, cilantro, green onion, and garlic. The chickpeas or fava beans are mashed together with the spices to create a dough-like consistency that is easily scooped and formed into balls or fritters for frying. The result is a crispy on the outside, fluffy and flavorful on the inside croquette-like snack that is super versatile, whether you’re going for a traditional sandwich, serving over rice, or on top of a fresh salad.
Falafel Stuffed Peppers
Have you ever had a falafel? I hope so. If not, you need to make this falafel stuffed peppers so you know what your life has been missing. Falafel is usually shaped into little balls and deep-fried, then wrapped up in a soft pita. Instead, I decided to stuff that same falafel mixture inside of a slow-roasted red pepper.
So what we have here is mashed up chickpeas seasoned with fresh basil and parsley plus lemon and a few key spices to achieve crispy, savory Meditteranean perfection. There's more than one way to falafel, y'all.
This recipe is super belated but super worth the wait. I've been thinking about making stuffed peppers for-pretty-much-ever but I couldn't decide how to stuff them. I don't know what gave me the notion to stuff them with falafel, but it might've been the two hours I spent in my favorite Turkish restaurant while writing about sangria last week. I didn't actually have a falafel that day, but I did have some of their hummus and a kebab – both of which were delicious, as expected.
Since I was the only patron, I also had a lengthy chat with the manager. (Which is why it took me so long to write the aforementioned post.) He asked me how I discovered Turkish food and their restaurant, in particular. "It all started with Indian food," I explained.
It's true. Since Christmas Eve 2 years ago, I've been an ethnic food addict. I love the slow-burning spice that comes standard in Indian and Thai food and I love the bright, fresh flavors found in Turkish and Middle Eastern meals. They use a lot of the same ingredients, but the beauty is that they use them so differently that the cuisines get their own colorful and unique identities.
Falafel starts off with bland chickpeas – bless their hearts, they're nutritious, but they're bland. But then you cook them in this special way and you end up with layers of savory, aromatic herb flavor and a hint of lemon. Drizzle that special, tangy sauce over top and you get a party in your mouth.
Baked Falafel Squares with Red Pepper Sauce
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Falafel, a Middle Eastern snack made by frying chickpea patties in oil, is often served in pitas with hummus. Joan H. Ranzini was curious whether a falafel mix could be baked like cornbread. The result is this easy, healthy meal. Honorable Mention, 2006 recipe contest.
- 1 10-oz. pkg. falafel mix
- 1 large egg
- 5 Tbs. olive oil, divided
- 1 whole head garlic
- 1 bunch asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2-inch lengths (about 3 cups)
- 2 cups shredded napa cabbage
- 6 oz. portobello mushrooms, sliced
- 1 tsp. dried oregano
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1/4 tsp. black pepper
- 1 16-oz. jar roasted red peppers, drained and rinsed
- 1/2 cup goat cheese
- 1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
Preheat oven to 375F. Coat 9-inch baking pan with cooking spray. Combine falafel mix with 2 cups boiling water in bowl, and let stand 5 minutes. Mix in egg and 4 Tbs. olive oil. Spread in prepared pan, and bake 35 minutes, or until browned.
Wrap garlic in foil. Roast 35 minutes, or until tender when squeezed.
Meanwhile, heat remaining 1 Tbs. oil in skillet over medium-high heat. Sauté asparagus, cabbage, mushrooms and oregano 5 minutes, or until asparagus is crisp-tender and cabbage is lightly browned. Add salt and pepper.
Squeeze garlic cloves into food processor bowl. Add peppers, and purée until smooth. Transfer to saucepan, and stir in cheese and cayenne. Heat over medium heat 3 to 4 minutes, or until cheese is melted, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper.
Cut falafel into 8 squares, and top with vegetables and sauce. Serve warm.
Falafel, the ubiquitous street food of the Middle East
I spent half of one youthful summer in the Middle East, working on an archaeological dig. Most weekends I went into the nearby town and gorged myself on the falafel sold by a local street vendor.
I learned two important lessons that summer. One was that the nitty-gritty part of archaeology absolutely bored me stiff and I needed to end any romantic dreams I had of choosing it for a career.
And the other was that falafel was absolutely amazing.
I'd had it before, but this was better. Maybe it was because I was in the part of the world where it was born. Maybe it was because the guy I was buying it from happened to make exceptionally good falafel.
Maybe it was because street food always tastes better on the street.
But for whatever reason, the falafel I got that summer remains for me the ideal version of the popular Middle Eastern treat.
Falafel are balls of spiced chickpeas that are fried and stuffed into pita with tomatoes and pickles, and drizzled with a condiment. It sounds pretty straightforward, but there are a thousand different variations.
The first source of alternative recipes is the part about spiced chickpeas. For one, in certain parts of the Middle East, fava beans are used in place of or mixed in with the chickpeas.
But of more concern are the spices. Most falafel you get in America has a decided greenish tint from all the parsley, cilantro, mint and scallions that are mixed into the mashed chickpeas, along with garlic, cumin, coriander seed, hot pepper and a host of other ingredients. Fava beans are also green.
To my palate, that is just too much going on. I like falafel because I like chickpeas, and the more flavors that compete with the chickpeas only wind up detracting from what I consider to be the purity of the falafel experience.
When I make falafel, I stick to the basics: chickpeas, onion, garlic, parsley and cumin (which maybe isn't exactly basic, but it blends well with the chickpeas). My falafel is brown, not green.
The other part of falafel that is subject to innumerable variations is the condiments with which it is served.
In America, we tend to use just one, tahini. But in the Land of Falafel, each falafel stand offers at least a half-dozen sauces to go in your pita. I remember particularly a bright red hot sauce, which I now know was harissa, the pride of North Africa. I also remember a curry sauce that I liked, but I can't remember enough about it now to try to reproduce it.
So I made a batch of harissa, which had the proper color and consistency, but somehow lacked the heat I was craving. So I added a few arbol peppers, which ratcheted up the heat level to exactly where I wanted it.
I also made z'hug, the famous green hot sauce from Yemen. This has a similar level of heat to harissa (I used serrano peppers, which are hot without being ridiculous), but a completely different flavor. Harissa is round and warm z'hug is fresh and bright.
A brief reference in a cookbook reminded me that my favorite falafelmonger also had sauerkraut as a condiment, which I never tried at the time. But I could see how it would work sauerkraut is essentially pickled cabbage, and pickled turnips and cucumbers are also part of a traditional falafel.
So I bought some, instead of making it myself, because there is no need to go crazy. For that matter, I bought the pita, too - and the pickled turnips.
But I made my own quick pickles, which I call quickles. They're so easy, so fast and so fun. And they go great on a falafel.
Falafel? They're more like fal-awesome.
1 cup dried chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, or 2 (151/2-ounce) cans
1/2 large onion, roughly chopped, about 1 cup
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
If using dried chickpeas, put in a large bowl and add enough cold water to cover by at least 2 inches. Let soak overnight, then drain. If using canned chickpeas, rinse and drain.
Place the drained, uncooked chickpeas and the onions in the bowl of a food processor. Add the parsley, salt, garlic and cumin. Process until blended, but not pureed.
Sprinkle in the baking powder and 4 tablespoons of the flour, and pulse. Add more flour, if necessary. You want to add enough flour so that the dough forms a small ball and no longer sticks to your hands. Turn out into a bowl and refrigerate, covered, for several hours.
Form the chickpea mixture into balls about the size of walnuts.
Heat 3 inches of oil to 375 degrees in a deep pot or wok and fry 1 ball to test. If it falls apart, add a little flour. Then fry about 6 balls at once for 3 to 4 minutes, or until golden brown (the temperature of the oil will drop). Drain on paper towels.
To serve in the traditional manner, stuff half a pita with the balls and add chopped tomatoes, diced sweet onion, diced green pepper, pickled turnips and a sauce made from tahini thinned with water. Or add pickled cucumber or sauerkraut, or such sauces as harissa or z'hug.
Per serving: 108 calories 7 g fat 1 g saturated fat no cholesterol 3 g protein 9 g carbohydrate
Source: Adapted from a recipe from 'The Foods of Israel Today,” by Joan Nathan
Yield: 1 1/2 cups, about 16 servings
4 ounces dried hot red New Mexican chili peppers (about 18), stems removed
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon coarse salt, or to taste
Soak the peppers in warm water until soft drain and squeeze out any excess water. Place in food processor with 1/4 cup of the oil, garlic, cumin, coriander and salt, and process until it forms a thick puree. Place in a jar, pour on the remaining olive oil, cover and refrigerate.
Let it sit for a few days before using for best results. Top with more olive oil after each use. This sauce also goes well with grilled meat.
Per serving (not including the 1/4 cup of oil used in the top of the jar): 35 calories 4 g fat
Source: Recipe from 'The Foods of Israel Today,” by Joan Nathan
Yield: 1 cup, about 10 servings
4 ounces fresh green serrano or jalapeno peppers, stems removed
1 whole head garlic, each clove peeled
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, rinsed and dried
1/2 cup fresh parsley, rinsed and dried
1/4 teaspoon whole black peppercorns, or 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 green cardamom pods, peeled
3/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/4 cup olive oil, plus additional to cover
Place peppers with the garlic, cilantro, parsley, peppercorns, cumin, cardamom and salt to taste in the bowl of a food processor. Chop until almost pureed, then add 1/4 cup oil and puree.
Remove to a glass jar and just cover with additional olive oil. The z'hug will keep for several months, covered in an airtight jar, in the refrigerator.
Per serving (not including the oil used in the top of the jar): 35 calories 4 g fat no saturated fat no cholesterol no protein 1 g carbohydrate
Source: 'The Foods of Israel Today” by Joan Nathan
Yield: 2 pounds, 12 servings
2 pounds cucumbers (small is best, but not necessary)
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 1/4 teaspoons pickling or kosher salt
Wash cucumbers and cut into spears or coins. Small cucumbers may be kept whole.
Into an impeccably clean jar, place garlic, dill and red pepper flakes. Pack the cucumbers into the jar trim the ends of spears if they will stand taller than 1/2 inch below the jar's rim.
In a small saucepan, heat together vinegar, water and salt to a rolling boil. Pour liquid over cucumbers, leaving a little room at the top. Close jars and refrigerate. They will be ready to serve by the time they are chilled, and will stay fresh for several weeks.
Which is The Best Bread to Use?
I personally like shrak which is an unleavened Arabic bread that is usually made into large rounds.
Measuring about 20 inches in diameter this is an ultra thin bread baked on a domed griddle.
But the next best substitute is fresh pita that is opened up, filled and rolled up into a wrap form.
And finally I will use a tortilla if nothing else is available.
But you get the idea, you want something thin, flat, and pliable to use so it’s not too bready.
Falafel and Roasted Red Pepper Stack
I hope I've inspired you to try something new for lunch this week. Tune in each day for more lunchtime inspiration and follow my Pinterest Board Sandwiches - make lunch special.
For more Leerdammer inspiration check out this video and follow the conversation with #BetterWithLeerdammer
Disclosure: Leerdammer are paying me to develop recipes for them. I was not required to write a positive review and any opinions expressed are my own.
I love Falafels and I love Leerdammer but would never have thought to put the 2 together!
You know you have to try it now, don't you Camilla?
It looks like such a delicious baguette, stuffed to the brim! I would switch the cheese though, am not so keen on leerdammer. That chutney sounds good, I do like a bit of bite to my pickles and can imagine it working with the falafel well!
Stack it up Anne and use your favourite cheese.
That's quite a sandwich! I bet the falafel and cheese is a really tasty combo.
It is, it works really well Helen :)
I love reading comments, so thank you for taking the time to leave one. Unfortunately, I'm bombarded with spam, so I've turned on comment moderation. I'll publish your comments as soon as I can and respond to them. Don't panic, they will disappear when you hit publish. Jac x
Chickpea & Red Pepper Falafel
Gently fry the chopped Onion and Red Pepper in some Olive Oil for 5 – 10 minutes or until soft and sweet… Add half a teaspoon of ground Cumin, one and a half teaspoons of ground Coriander and a crushed clove of Garlic (or two) and continue to fry for a few minutes. Take off the heat and add to a large bowl
While the Onions are cooking, in a food processor, whizz up the remaining half an Onion, one or two more cloves Garlic and the drained Chick Peas
Add the whizzed Chickpea mixture to the same bowl as the cooked Onions and Peppers and mix up together with some seasoning (Salt & Pepper) and some chopped fresh Coriander and Parsley (or Mint would work). Chopped fresh Red Chilli is a good addition at this stage if you like them spicy
Make Falafel shaped balls (or you could make Falafel Burger Style Patties…)
Place them on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper
Cook at 190˚c for 20 – 30 minutes or until slightly browned and a little crunchy on the outside
Enjoy with Flatbread… Or some Beetroot Salad… Or some Plain Basmati Rice… A squeeze of Lime or Lemon never goes amiss either
Red Pepper Coulis – The Perfect Dish Enhancer
There are a myriad of ways to serve this red pepper coulis. You can serve it with my Heavenly Oil-free Hummus recipe or Air Fryer Falafel recipe. You could use it as a savory pizza or flatbread sauce, swirl it in soups, line your plate with it as a bed for other entrees, or use it as a garnish. It’s tasty applications are endless!
Air Fryer Falafel Recipe
Don’t you wish that the recipe for that unforgettable dish you had last night was published in a cookbook somewhere? Maybe it’s just me or maybe it’s unadvisable to give all the secrets away. But that’s bulls***. I still go to Momofuku when I can even though I have the cookbook with the recipe for the unforgettable XO sauce. And I would fly across the country in a second to eat Versailles’ garlic chicken, even though I’ve gotten pretty close to the real thing in my own kitchen.
Noelle Carter at the LA Times has a great column called Culinary SOS where she (with the credentials of an LA Times food columnists) approaches restaurants for their secret recipes requested by readers.
I would kill for the bed borscht recipe at Lomzynianka in Greenpoint or the tempura green bean recipe from Red Cat in Chelsea. And would pay a hefty sum of money for the Zankou chicken tahini sauce recipe. Ohh and Chin Chin’s chinese chicken salad dressing – you cant really put a price on something so perfect.
But how about chain restaurants The crappy places we New Yorkers frequent at lunch because we can’t bother to pack our own lunches and we work in culinary wastelands like the financial district. It’s often the case that the food truck parked around the corner doesn’t take cash and your bank is just too far away…thus you end up back at Pret a Manger for the third time this week.
So you would be insane to want to eat that processed crap you eat for lunch everyday at home for dinner right?
Answer: Wrong, you haven’t had Pret a Manger’s red pepper falafel wrap.
If you haven’t had one, I suggest you go to your nearest Pret and eat one, or try my version below. I don’t even like wraps, but this one is very special.
I’m using homemade baked falafel in an attempt to be healthy and not have my apartment (and hallway) smell like a halal cart for the next 48 hours.
I’m embarassed to say I ate TWO of these bad boys last weekend. One on Saturday because the brunch place I wanted to try was closed and once on Sunday because it was just too easy. And hey, sometimes even I don’t feel like cooking.
So, low an behold, you will find a recipe that very closely resembles Pret a Manger’s delicious devil of a wrap. I used tortillas with a 9-inch diameter but I imagine using something bigger would make for a better and neater roll. I’m sure the Pret staff has had years of training in wrap wrapping and mine are a bit pathetic.
Red Pepper Falafel Wrap
1 15 oz. can chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
1 teaspoon garlic powder (or fresh minced garlic)
1/2 cup finely minced onion
1 teaspoon olive oil + 1 Tablespoon for cooking
1 15 oz can cherry tomatoes (or regular san marzanos, crushed)
3/4 cups grated cheese (I used a mix of swiss and cheddar)
1. Make the tomato sauce by pouring the entire can of tomatoes into a medium-sized skillet with the butter and the onion (face down). Bring to boil and then simmer for at least 40 minutes, stirring occasionally. Using a wooden spoon to mash all the tomatoes into a sauce, set aside.
2. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Make the red peppers: Core and seed the peppers, slice into thin strips and mix with the onion and olive oil on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and roast for about 15 minutes so that some of the peppers begin to blacken. Remove the peppers and onions from the tray toa bowl to cool for about 10 minutes. Pulse a few times in a food processor until roughly chopped-set aside. Clean out your food processor for the falafel.
3. Make the falafels by combining the chick peas (drained), parsley, cilantro, cumin, garlic powder, salt and minced onion and 1 teaspoon olive oil in a food processor. Pulse a few times until completely ground. I had a sort of paste which flattened out in the oven but was still delicious.
4. Cook the falafels by lining the baking sheet with parchment paper. Drop a small ping-pong sized ball onto the sheet and repeat (you will have 12-16 falafels). Cook for 10-15 minutes until the underside is browned and then flip if you can and cook for another 5 minutes. Your falafels will be delicate baking them doesn’t create that same crusty shell that deep frying does.
5. Assemble the falafels two at a time. Place a fresh sheet of parchment on your baking sheet. Lay two tortillas flat and using the back of a spoon first spread about 2 Tablespoons of tomato sauce on each tortilla, then follow with about 1 Tablespoon of red peppers. Then sprinkle 1/4th of the grated cheese and place 2-3 falafels in a line in the center. Bake for 5 minutes in the 400 degree oven so the cheese melts completely.
6. When the tortillas cool slightly (about 5 minutes), make the wraps by folding about 2 inches of the bottom of the tortilla up and then fold each side over the center. You will have 2 messy, poorly constructed but entirely delicious wraps unless you are a master burrito roller. Tie with kitchen twine if you have it and heat in the oven for 3 minutes. Repeat for the other two.