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No-fuss falafel: An easy summer dish

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falafel

As the weather heats up, we find ourselves dreaming of quiet weekend afternoons and backyard dinner parties with family and friends. More social gatherings means new opportunities to share food, so why not bring something fresh that everyone will love?

Today’s recipe will help you branch out from the traditional “chips and salsa” appetizer with a dish that excites the taste buds. These no-fuss falafels are simple, fun, and pack a powerful nutritional punch.

Falafels are made from blended chickpeas (also called garbanzo beans), herbs and spices. The chickpea, herb and spice mixture is then formed into patties and baked. The result: delicious little bites with a soft interior and a crunchy exterior.

Falafels: Simple & Versatile

One of the best things about making falafels is the easy-to-find ingredients. Everything you need is likely already in your kitchen. This makes preparation quick and convenient, while reducing the likelihood of you needing to make a last minute trip to the grocery store.

falafel

Falafels are also customizable. You can easily make modifications to suit various tastes and cravings. Like it spicy? Add a little kick with cayenne pepper.  Want to boost your veggie intake?  Blend in some beet greens or spinach. There’s something for everyone.

We also must credit falafels for their versatility. Enjoy them in a variety of ways:

  • Stuff them in a wrap
  • Add them to a sandwich (think plant-based meatball sub)
  • Pair them with savoury dips for a bite-sized snack (kids love this!)
  • Toss them with some pasta and tomato sauce

The Power of Plant-Based Protein

Chickpeas, the main ingredient in falafel, provide vegetarians, vegans and omnivores alike with a great source of plant-based protein. Contrary to popular belief, you can get significant amounts of protein from vegetable sources. Chickpeas contain 15 grams of protein in just one cup. These little legumes are a fabulous meat-alternative for all.

Chickpeas are also a great source of fibre, which can help manage blood sugar levels, improve digestive health, and keep you full for hours. To top it off, they are also packed with potassium (important for blood pressure regulation), iron and magnesium, among other important vitamins and minerals.

falafel

Tips for Preparation

  • This recipe uses canned chickpeas for convenience, but if you have the time to plan ahead, you can soak dried chickpeas overnight and then cook them yourself to enjoy a more authentic texture and flavour.
  • The falafel mix can be made days in advance and stored in the fridge. When hunger hits, cook a few as needed. (Awesome, right?!)
  • Keeping the mixture in the fridge overnight will keep them from crumbling once cooked.
  • In a pinch, you can fry the patties in a frying pan, but baking the falafels in the oven requires less oil to get the same crispy texture.
  • Falafels will keep in your fridge for 3-4 days.

Bring this recipe to your next summer BBQ and surprise family and friends with an easy plant-based dish. Whether you are serving falafels as a main dish or as an appetizer, I guarantee they will be impressed!

No-Fuss Falafel Recipe

Makes: 22-24 1-inch falafel patties

Ingredients

  • 2 540 mL cans of chickpeas
  • ½ large red onion, roughly chopped
  • ⅓ cup parsley, packed
  • ⅓ cup cilantro, packed
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1½ Tbsp. olive oil, plus more for brushing
  • 2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ½ cup panko breadcrumbs

Directions

1)    Preheat oven to 375F.  Line baking sheet with parchment paper.

2)    Combine chickpeas, onion, parsley, cilantro, lemon juice, olive oil, and spices in a food processor. Pulse to blend.

3)    Taste, and adjust spices as needed. Add in breadcrumbs and blend.

4)    Roll mixture into 1-inch diameter balls and press onto baking sheet to flatten slightly

5)    Brush patties with olive oil (~3 Tbsp.)

6)    Bake for 50-60 minutes or until golden brown, flipping the falafels halfway through.

Cucumber Dill Yogurt Dip

Ingredients

  • 1 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1 tsp. Garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. Lemon juice
  • 3 Tbsp. Fresh dill, chopped
  • ¼ cup shredded cucumber (use a cheese grater)

Directions

1) Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Stir to mix thoroughly and refrigerate until use.

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Thanks to Britney Lentz and Hannah Mazure, 3rd year dietetics students at UBC, for drafting this article for upbeet!

 

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