Guess who happened to be visiting Kansas City this weekend on National Siblings Day?
This sister, that’s who!
Yep, Sarah was on spring break this past week — a very late spring break, thanks to the Chicago school district where she teaches art — so as is tradition, she flew down to Wichita to spend a few days with our ‘rents, and then I drove down and brought her back to Kansas City for a few sister days together. And I must say, we had a very Kansas City-y weekend. We (of course) went next door for some pour-over first thing in the morning, we met up with some friends at our new neighborhood pizza place that I wanted her to try, we took Henry for a long walk along the Missouri River, we stopped by a local film festival, we happy hour-ed at my favorite spot for chips and salsa and margs, and we spent a lazy Saturday morning at my favorite local art museum checking out a new exhibit on Spanish chef Ferran Adria (the perfect exhibit for an art teacher and food blogger, we decided). Oh, and then we reverted to 10-year-old selves and totally spent an evening playing with each other’s hair while watching old episodes of Chopped. Oh…sisters. :)
Still, one of our favorite things to do together is cook. So for lunch one day, we decided to break out the chickpeas and make a batch of falafel together. And oh man, this falafel recipe rivaled all of my other favorite Kansas City meals that we had all weekend.
Falafel for the win!
Actually, falafel are probably way more up Sarah’s alley than mine. When given the choice, I opt for cooking Mexican food almost any chance I get. But Sarah and her husband, Jeff, tend way more toward Indian and Middle Eastern cuisine. And let me tell you, they make a mean curry!
But lately, in my quest to eat a little less meat, I have been falling back in love with falafel whenever my neighbors and I hit up our neighborhood Middle Eastern restaurant. I forget just how ridiculously tasty and filling this stuff is! Plus, the word falafel is way too fun to say. (Double plus, it makes me smile every time I think of that Friends episode with Christina Applegate mistaking Ross for the falafel guy — anyone?!?)
Anyway, I like my falafel to taste as absolutely fresh as possible. So I packed our food processor full of fresh parsley and cilantro and garlic, and also subbed a little white whole-wheat flour in for the all-purpose flour.
And after a few pulses, our mixture was ready to go.
We both looked at it and in unison, Sarah said — “it’s so green!” And I said — “it’s not green enough!” (Apparently I like my falafel unusually herby.) So we added in a few more fresh herbs, and then were good to go.
After we chilled the mixture, we scooped formed it into little falafels. And then sauteed them up in a little bit of oil on the stove until they were nice and browned.
Keyword: a little bit of oil.
I’ve tried making baked falafel before, and could never quite get the outsides as crispy as I wanted, even with a few different methods. So I decided to see this time how little oil we could use, instead of dunking these guys in inches of oil. As it turns out, we were able to saute this entire batch to golden, crispy, falafel perfection using just 4 tablespoons of oil total. I was thrilled! Granted, you might need an extra tablespoon or two depending on the size of your saute pan, and just how long you let the falafels each cook. But if you’re looking to cut back on the oil yet still get that crispy “fried” taste, I’m here to announce that it’s deliciously possible.
And here they are!
I frankly prefer to just eat falafel plain, or maybe with a bit of tzatziki sauce or hummus on the side. Or toss them in a green salad.
But if you’re hungry for a falafel sandwich, just stuff them in some pita along with lettuce, red onion, tomatoes, feta, and/or any of your favorite sauces. Up to you.
Bottom line — this falafel recipe’s a keeper.
As is that cute sister of mine. :)
This falafel recipe is full of fresh ingredients, easy to make, and irresistibly delicious.
- 6 cloves garlic, peeled
- 1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas (a.k.a. garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained
- 1 1/2 cups fresh parsley leaves, tightly-packed
- 1 cup fresh cilantro leaves, tightly-packed
- 1/2 cup diced white or red onion
- 1/3 cup white whole wheat flour (or all-purpose flour)
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 4-5 tablespoons grapeseed oil (or another high-heat oil, such as canola or vegetable)
- for serving: pita bread, chopped Romaine lettuce, thinly-sliced red onions, diced tomatoes, tzatziki sauce and/or hummus
(Note: This recipe requires 10 minutes prep time, plus 1-2 hours time to chill the falafel before cooking.)
Add garlic, chickpeas, cilantro, parsley, onion, flour, lemon juice, baking powder, salt, cumin and black pepper to a food processor. Pulse until smooth and evenly mixed, stopping partway through to scrape down the sides of the bowl if needed. Transfer mixture to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap, so that the plastic is directly touching the top of the mixture (so that no air can enter. Refrigerate for 1-2 hours or until chilled. (If the mixture feels too gooey still after it has been chilled, and is difficult to form into disks, stir in a few more tablespoons of flour.)
Lay a large sheet of parchment paper out on a work surface. Remove the bowl with the chilled falafel mixture. Then measure out 2 tablespoons of the mixture, and roll the mixture into a ball with your hands. Place the ball on the parchment paper, and gently flatten the ball slightly with your hand so that it is a little under 1/2-inch thick thick. Repeat with the remaining mixture until all of the falafel disks are prepared.
Heat oil in a large cast-iron or heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat until it is shimmering. (If you add a drop of water to the oil, it should sizzle.) Carefully transfer 4 or 5 falafel disks to the hot oil and fry for 2-3 minutes per side, or until both sides of the disk are browned. Transfer to a paper-towel lined plate. Then repeat with the remaining falafel disks, adding extra oil to the pan if need be.
When all of the falafels are cooked, remove the pan from the heat. Then serve the falafel warm however you’d like. (You can eat the falafels plain, served with hummus or tzatziki, in a salad, in a gyro, or in a simple pita sandwich as pictured above. To make the pita sandwich, fill half a pita with chopped lettuce, red onions, diced tomatoes, a few falafel, and then top with tzatziki sauce or hummus.)
If you make this recipe, be sure to snap a photo and hashtag it #gimmesomeoven. I'd love to see what you cook!