This quick and simple, healthy vegetarian falafel salad is made with pantry staple ingredients.
One of the things that Alex finds incredibly weird and funny about me is that I need to know in advance if I am going to eat something rich and heavy. When we were first dating, there were so many nights when we would be deciding what to do for dinner, and he would suggest going out for burgers or Indian food or something, and I would say, “I can’t decide that at 7PM! I need to know that at like 7AM!”
Does that make me high maintenance? Maybe. But I just know I will enjoy a splurge more if I’ve “planned” for it by eating lightly beforehand. I don’t want a cheeseburger and fries for dinner when I am still kind of full from a big lunch, you know? I want a cheeseburger and fries when I am ravenous.
Falafel is something that usually falls in the “need to know” category. It’s generally deep fried, and arguably best consumed with copious amounts of pita bread, feta cheese, and creamy sauces. Nobody in their right mind would ever describe a falafel sandwich as a dainty meal.
For most of my life I’ve been OK with reserving falafel for a special treat, but lately I’ve started to crave it more and more. Now that I play close attention to our meat consumption, falafel stands out as a great vegetarian, family-friendly option. So recently, I set out to create a quick and easy recipe for falafel that is actually healthy and can be made with basic pantry ingredients.
This is falafel you can make on a random Tuesday in about 30 minutes, but it’s every bit as crispy, tender, and flavorful as authentic restaurant versions. Are you ready?
The patties are made by throwing a can of chickpeas, a slice of sandwich bread, an egg, parsley, lemon, garlic, cumin, salt, and pepper into the food processor. (I added red pepper flakes for extra kick, but they’re totally optional.)
Then just lightly pan fry them in a little bit of oil until they are golden brown and crispy. It only takes about 90 seconds per side.
These falafel are truly one of my new favorite weeknight meals. It’s so easy to prep the patties earlier in the day (or even the night before) and then just pan fry them right before dinner. Also, people can sort of choose their own adventure and build their own dinner around them. I like to eat them on top of a big salad with lots of cucumbers and feta; Alex prefers to stuff them in a pita with fresh tomatoes. We both love to add tons of pickled hot peppers.
This time I made a quick yogurt-based dressing with tahini, lime, and jalapeno that is addictively delicious (if I do say so myself), but you could absolutely serve these with store-bought hummus or tzatziki.
- 1 slice sandwich bread (white or whole wheat)
- 1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 1 large egg
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
- 2 teaspoons freshly grated lemon zest
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Large pinch red pepper flakes (optional)
- Vegetable oil, for pan frying
- 2/3 cup plain yogurt
- 1/4 cup tahini
- 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 jalapeño, seeded and diced
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Salad greens
- Veggies of your choosing
- Pitas, hummus, feta cheese, pickled hot peppers, or other desired toppings
- To make the falafel, place the bread in a food processor and process until it is finely crumbled. Add the chickpeas, egg, parsley, lemon zest, cumin, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes (if using) and pulse until coarsely chopped and mixture is just starting to come together in clumps. Form the mixture into 14 small patties. (Patties can be covered and refrigerated at this point for up to a few days.)
- Heat a few tablespoons of oil (enough to generously coat the bottom) in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches, pan fry the patties until golden brown, about 90 seconds per side. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate.
- To make the dressing, combine the yogurt, tahini, lime juice, olive oil, and jalapeño in a food processor and process until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.
- Assemble your salad with veggies and accompaniments of your choosing. Top with the falafel and drizzle with the dressing.