Pictured // Herb Falafel + Tzatziki + saffron olive oil dipping
Since it’s officially spring, my mind and body instantly start to crave and gravitate towards recipes that are portable, great to share at potlucks, bring to BBQ’s, and take to picnics. Herb Falafel and Tzatziki is absolutely perfect for all of the above, but especially for sharing with friends. If you’ve never tried falafel let alone make it in your own kitchen, I promise you the name sounds a lot more fancy and intimidating than it actually is to make. I pair the fresh yet crunchy Herb Falafel with a zesty creamy vegan Tzatziki Sauce to be used as a condiment, dip or dressing.
What is falafel? Falafel (fah-la-fell) is a traditional Middle Eastern recipe made with ground fava beans and chickpeas into a flour with a mix of fresh herbs, garlic, olive oil, spices formed into a patty or ball and often paired with a sauce containing tahini and wrapped in a pita/flat bread. It’s often deep-fried but can be baked, for my recipe I’m choosing to bake the falafel, which still tastes amazing! Tzatziki sauce is another traditional Middle Eastern recipe typically containing sheep’s yogurt, fresh herbs, lemon juice, spices, and seasonings to create a refreshing dressing for the falafel. Being dairy-free here on Nutrition Stripped, I’m opting to use good ole’ cashews and hemp seeds for the creamy sauce.
First things first, if you haven’t tried falafel before or are unfamiliar with it, you’re not alone- before college I had no idea what falafel was. That was until I found a local spot in Columbus, Ohio (where I went to school) and was exposed to the most delicious falafel I’ve ever tasted… that was until I started experimenting in the kitchen with making my own.
I think it was only a matter a time before I shared my beloved falafel recipe, with this summer weather, sunshine, and picnics all around the corner I couldn’t help but share! If you’re in the vegetarian or vegan community, falafel may be very familiar to you as it’s considered a great entree option or alternative to meat in sandwiches and is routinely found on most menus as a vegetarian option. If you’re not familiar with falafel or never gave it a go in the kitchen, I hope that all changes after you see how simple it is to make and how nourishing! Falafel is great for a hearty entree because it’s loaded with plant-based proteins, healthy fats, fiber, and carbohydrates. Depending on the cooking method, condiments, and how you serve the falafel (i.e. in a pita bread, on salad, or solo) this dish can be relatively low calorie, but always nutrient dense. Even some of you non-plant based eaters can thoroughly enjoy this recipe, trust me if my sweet enjoys this recipe (who is the biggest “meat and potatoes” guy I know), you will too!
TIP // This recipe makes quite a bit of falafel which is great to share, keep for later, batch cook for your busy week ahead, or freeze for another day. If freezing, simply use clear wrap to wrap the falafel balls/patties individually making it for easier thawing and reheating! I pop these into a toaster oven or oven to heat through quickly for a quick meal.
- 2 cups cooked or canned chickpeas (well rinsed)
- 1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds, shelled
- 1/3 cup red onion, chopped
- 3 tablespoons sesame seeds (for rolling the falafel into)
- 3 tablespoons fresh parsley, cilantro, mint each chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons tahini
- 1 juiced lemon (about 2 tablespoons)
- 1 tablespoon brown rice flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon coriander, ground
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon cumin, ground
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon saffron threads
- fresh ground black pepper
- Preheat oven to 375° F.
- Pulse sunflower seeds in a blender or a food processor for about 30 seconds or until they’re roughly chopped.
- Add chickpeas and pulse 1 minute, if you’re using canned chickpeas be sure you rinse and drain them well.
- Add onion and pulse.
- You may need to scrape down the sides of bowl, keeping pulsing until the mixture is slightly coarse and well combined.
- Transfer into a mixing bowl and add all remaining ingredients chopped herbs, spices, flour, baking powder and stir until combined into a “dough”
- Using your hands, form 18 small round falafels and place on a lined baking sheet (I use parchment paper). Roll in sesame seeds.
- Bake at 375 degrees, turning each falafel halfway through baking, until all falafels are evenly golden brown. This takes about 25-30 minutes total.
- Serve with Tzatziki sauce and suggested variations in the blog post.
- If keeping for later, simply wrap them tightly in clear wrap or store in tupperware. Reheat by popping into the oven or toaster oven until heated through and crisp again.
How to enjoy | Not that you all need much direction on how to enjoy this recipe, there are several variations on how to eat this falafel. As I mentioned above, traditional falafel is served with pita bread or in some sort of wrap; although I love this Herb Falafel wrapped in romaine lettuce, napa cabbage bowls, nori sheets, swiss chard, or even make your own gluten free pita bread! The sauces used can also be switched out to make a “new” flavor. For example, don’t be afraid to think outside of the box when it comes to sauces used- I love using my Sweet Tahini Drizzle, whole grain/dijon mustard, salsa, hot sauce, or even Classic Cashew Cheese.
- Topped on a salad
- Wrapped in alternatives to pita: nori sheets, dark leafy greens, gluten free wraps, etc.
- On a plate as an appetizer with fresh olives, fresh hummus, veggie sticks, and drizzled tzatziki sauce
- Crumbled on top of Nourish Bowl
- On a plate plain with Tzatziki sauce
Build it! Falafel is great because you can still fully enjoy the falafel patties solo, topped on a bed of greens, mixed into a salad, or you can enjoy them in a sandwich/wrapped style. All of which give you the versatility to enjoy different toppings and condiments; but for the sake of keeping some of this traditional, my favorite toppings are fresh juicy tomatoes, crispy romaine lettuce, sliced red onion, hot sauce, pickled veggies, and tzatziki sauce.
- 1 cup raw cashews, soaked for at least 4 hours
- 2 tablespoons tahini
- Juice of 1 lemon (about 3 tablespoons of lemon juice)
- 1/2 cup cucumber, diced
- 1 tablespoon hemp seeds
- 1 tablespoon fresh dill, chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
- 1/2 tablespoon fresh mint, chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- fresh black ground pepper to taste
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- In a high speed blender combine all ingredients (except cucumbers and fresh herbs).
- Blend until ingredients are combined and smooth.
- Stir in chopped cucumbers and chopped fresh herbs until combined.
- Store in the fridge until used.
- Serve as a side dressing or dipping sauce with Herb Falafel.
Nutrition information for 3 falafels + 2 tablespoons vegan Tzatziki = 320 calories, 20g fat, 8g protein, and 15g carbohydrates.
Have you ever tried falafel before? Share below what you’re favorite way to eat falafel is! Hope you all enjoy this one and I love how you’ve all been so kind with sharing Nutrition Stripped and the recipes!
IN OTHER NEWS //
- it’s your last day to enter the Tata Harper + Nutrition Stripped giveaway where the winner will win some of my personal favorite skincare products that are all natural.
- If you signed up for my newsletter you heard about my Spring Cleaning Special! 15% off all SHOP items and services for a very limited time! Coupon code: NSspringcleaning14
Be sure to share this recipe and post with others if you love it, thank you for the support!