It’s funny how warmer weather and some sunlight can influence your cravings. Enough with the hearty and comforting winter meals- it’s time for something a bit lighter! Salads are definitely one of my go-to meals this time of year, but I have to be honest, sometimes they leave me wanting more. That is not the case with this falafel salad! It is the perfect combination of protein, fiber and healthy fat. It’s loaded with fresh flavors and is light, while still being a substantial meal.
Falafel is a traditional Middle Eastern recipe made with ground chickpeas and a mix of fresh herbs and spices. It’s often deep fried and served in a pita, but I like to bake the falafel and serve them in a salad instead! They pair well with this lemon garlic tahini dressing, but you could also use a yogurt-based dressing like tzatziki or some of my favorite hummus.
If you haven’t tried falafel before or haven’t tried making them at home, I promise you it’s easier than it seems. Don’t let the long ingredient list scare you away- it really is just a few simple steps. The falafel can be made ahead of time and kept in the refrigerator or freezer which makes it even easier if you are short on time!
- For Falafel:
- 1 ½ cups dried chickpeas, rinsed and soaked overnight
- 4 cloves of garlic, peeled
- ½ cup red onion, chopped
- ½ cup fresh parsley
- ½ cup fresh cilantro
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 Tablespoons of olive oil
- For Dressing:
- ½ cup tahini
- ¼ cup water
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 2 cloves of garlic, peeled
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
- For Salad:
- spring mix
- cherry tomatoes, halved
- cucumber, thinly sliced
- red onion, thinly sliced
- whole wheat pita bread, if desired
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- In a food processor, combine the soaked and drained chickpeas, garlic, red onion, parsley, cilantro, cumin, cayenne pepper, salt and olive oil. Process until smooth, stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
- Using your hands, scoop out about 2 Tablespoons of the mixture at a time. Roll into a ball and then pat it flat. Place falafel on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
- Bake for 24 minutes, flipping falafel halfway through.
- While the falafel bake, make the dressing. Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.
- In a salad bowl, combine spring mix, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, and red onion in your desired proportions. Top with falafel and dressing. Serve with whole wheat pita bread if desired.
*Do not substitute canned chickpeas for dried chickpeas here! They have a lot more moisture and result in a flat falafel. For best results, soak dried chickpeas in water overnight.