I have a major crush on falafel. It’s the cutest food around. It’s fun to eat, it’s fun to say, and it’s healthy! I could probably eat falafel twice a week and still crave it. The only problem with this is that Husband doesn’t share my love for falafel. So, when I was in a steady routine of making it once a week over the summer, things got kind of tense. Every time I would announce that’s what we were eating that night, he would look a little sad and pre-game dinner with a bowl of cereal. A nicer person probably would have stopped making it, or at least stopped making it so often, but I always take his dislike of foods as a challenge to get him to like that particular food, so I started making even MORE falafel!
All my attempts to win him over to Team Falafel culminated in Falafel Redemption Night, where I tried to make the most perfect falafel in all the land… It was a big flop. I tried to take a shortcut by using canned chickpeas, and my falafels came out burnt and crumby and terrible (don’t do this. Please don’t do this). Jokes were made about putting the ‘afel’ (ahem, ‘awful’) in ‘falafel’. But I didn’t give up. A week later I had a Falafel Re-Redemption Night, a title that led to much heated theological discussion about whether re-redemption is even a thing. Want to know what happened that night? REDEMPTION! (or re-redemption, I guess?) And the birth of this delicious salad!
After lots of trial-and-error, I can safely say that this salad is my favorite way to eat falafel. The freshness from the chopped tomato, cucumber, avocado, red onion and lettuce combined with the crisp, garlicky, flavorful falafel all topped with feta cheese crumbles and a tangy lemon-yogurt dressing is basically like taking your taste buds on a roller coaster. It’s easy to get all the flavors in your mouth at once, quick to whip up, and ultra filling. If you weren’t already on Team Falafel, you might be after this salad.
Here’s how to make it:
Start by soaking the dried chickpeas in water. Cover by 2-3 inches and leave for 12-24 hours. When they’re ready to become falafel, you’ll be able to crush a bean between two fingers. If you’re like me, you’ll be tempted to skip this step and just use canned chickpeas. DON’T! Canned chickpeas are too mushy and make gross falafel. (If you’re a rebel and decide to do this anyway, my kitchen scale says the beans weigh 1.5 pounds after soaking, so that’s how much you will need. If you have success, tell me!)
Once the chickpeas are ready to use, drain them and put them into your food processor along with all the other falafel ingredients. Pulse until everything is finely minced.
Now it’s time to form your falafels! There is a little bit of a learning curve in this process because there’s nothing binding the mixture. What I’ve found to be most helpful is to grab the amount I want to use to make a falafel, and give it a good squeeze. This squishes it together and makes it hold when forming patties. I like to use about 2 tablespoons per patty, which will yield about 25 cute falafels! Put them on a baking sheet drizzled with olive oil, and drizzle more oil on top.
Bake at 375° for 10-15 minutes, then flip and bake another 10-15 minutes. They will come out nicely browned, crispy on the outside and soft and flavorful on the inside!
While you’re waiting for your falafel to bake, chop up the tomato, onion, avocado, and cucumber and toss with the salt.
Next, make the dressing and prep the lettuce!
Once your falafel is ready, it’s time to assemble. Start with the lettuce, spoon on the chopped mixture, then top with falafel. Drizzle on the dressing and sprinkle with feta cheese crumbles.
Baked Falafel Salad with Lemon-Yogurt Dressing
- 1 3/4 cups dried chickpeas
- 5 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 small onion, quartered
- 1 tablespoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 cup fresh parsley, chopped
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 pint grape tomatoes, cut in half lengthwise
- 1 cucumber, de-seeded and chopped
- 1 small red onion, chopped
- 1 avocado, chopped
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 4 cups chopped lettuce
- 4 ounces feta cheese crumbles
- 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
- Pinch of kosher salt, to taste
- Generous pinch of cayenne pepper
- Place dried chickpeas in a large bowl and cover with water by 2-3 inches. Soak 12-24 hours. Beans should be soft enough to crush between two fingers, but still firm.
- Drain chickpeas and place in the bowl of a food processor along with the garlic, onion, cumin, cayenne, parsley, salt, black pepper, baking soda, and lemon juice. Pulse until everything is coarsely minced, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary. This should take about 30 seconds.
- Preheat oven to 375°. Drizzle 2 tablespoons of olive oil onto a baking sheet. Form falafel mixture into patties, using about 2 tablespoons of mixture per patty. Place patties on the greased baking sheet, and drizzle with the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Bake 10-15 minutes per side. Falafel should be crisped and nicely browned.
- Meanwhile, combine the tomato, cucumber, red onion, avocado, and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside.
- Make the dressing by whisking together the yogurt, lemon juice, cumin, black pepper, salt, and cayenne. Set aside.
- To assemble salads, divide lettuce between plates. Top with chopped tomato/cucumber/onion/avocado mixture, and place falafels on top of that. Drizzle with lemon-yogurt dressing and sprinkle with feta cheese. Serve immediately.
Baked Falafel adapted from Mark Bittman