For me falafel is a full on, fill me up, give it to me now crave food. It’s pure comfort food. When I want something filling, fresh, warming and healthy yet satisfying this is it. The thing is I rarely make falafel and it’s not like it’s easy to get in fast food joints around here either. Oh, what I would do to have a little local cafe nearby that baked me falafel when I needed it most, now that would be good. Until my make believe plant based Arab inspired fast food joint opens I’ll be making this myself and more often.
I am in love with North African flavours so naturally falafel is pretty high up there on the favourites list, I definitely ate my fair share (ok, more than is fair!) in Egypt. Were they better? Ummmm, not necesserily! The trouble is most falafel is deep fried as that’s in fact the traditional way of preparing it but it’s way toooo oily for me and so unnecessary as IMO they taste so much better baked. These pistachio, pumpkin seed + herb falafel are fragrant, lightly spiced, fresh, crispy on the outside, soft and creamy on the inside and devastatingly good, in taste and for health! Yes, every recipe on this blog is healthy………
Russ was on ball making duty as it’s not my forte and his balls are so uniform, round and smooth (humour me). And green, nice and green thanks to the mint, coriander, pistachio and pumpkin seeds. Not only does this add a nice touch visually it really ramps up the nutritional density too. This pistachio, pumpkin seed + herb falafel is high in protein, contains only heart healthy fats, low in sodium and the herbs provide immense anti-inflammatory and ant-bacterial benefits. You just gotta love fresh green herbs.
Extra tasty served in fresh crisp lettuce leaves, the best way. Gone are the days when I felt self conscious eating from a lettuce or cabbage leaf, where others would sometimes make comments in confused wonder or assume I was just a weird eater. I’m not sure why either as it’s one of the most delicious ways to eat food minus the heavy carb and gluten load, just ask the Koreans. Since living in Korea for a year I soon learnt to love the leaf wrapping as they wrap everything in a fresh lettuce leaf, a crunchy wad of cabbage or a crisp sheet of seaweed. Oh I do miss that place and it’s food, but not the soups so much, particularly the ones where they sneak tiny bits of pork into it and tell you it’s vegetarian! Back to the leaf, Korean supermarkets have entire refrigerators dedicated to housing the most pristine, organised and colour coordinated lettuce leaves you have ever seen. Our local store even had a designated lettuce leaf handler (nice guy too), in charge of bagging, weighing and most importantly keeping the green, purple and red (yes, they put a lot of love and affection into their lettuce!) display looking beautiful. Tangent….yes falafel…..eating out of a lettuce leaf = good.
So, although I’m no longer leaf wrapping on a daily basis I always take up any opportunity to use fresh plant- powered wraps, especially if there’s falafel involved. I do wonder if I’ll ever be able to eat from a leaf again without thinking about Korea!! Good times.
Falafel is a classic veggie staple and is delicious served with a big salad and if lettuce leaf wraps aren’t for you a wholewheat pitta would be amaze-balls (get it?) too. I like both, falafel wrapped in lettuce and stuffed in a pitta, finished off with generous dollops of minty dressing. Oh dear, now that is delicious.
Pistachio, pumpkin seed + herb falafel
1 can drained chickpeas (240 grams)
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1 small onion, chopped
small handful fresh mint
small handful fresh coriander
1/4 cup pistachios, shelled
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
1 teaspoon cumin
salt & pepper
small handful mint, finely chopped
2 tablespoons yoghurt + 1 of water
1. Rinse + drain chickpeas, set aside. Place garlic, onion + green herbs into a food processor or blender + pulse until roughly chopped. Add the nuts + seeds + pulse to a rough texture. Add the chickpeas, cumin + salt/pepper + blend until fully combined so that it retains a rough like texture. You may need to redistribute the mixture with a spoon in between blending.
2. Form 10-12 balls from the mixture + place on a baking tray lined with grease proof paper. Bake falafel in the oven for 20 minutes until firm + crispy on the outside. Combine the mint dressing ingredients in a small bowl or cup + set aside.
3. Serve in lettuce with a sprinkle of pomegranate seeds + a drizzle of mint yoghurt dressing.