The very versatile falafel
A good source of protein, falafel can be used in many ways and is easy to prepare.
Falafel is a traditional Middle Eastern dish and can be made from numerous combinations, such as the fava bean or a mixture of fava beans and chick peas, or just chick peas. This mixture can be formed into a patty or little balls. I prefer the balls, unless I’m using them on a sandwich. Historically, it is served in a pita bread or a flatbread called a lafa, topped with salad, pickled vegetables and Tahini sauce. For an extra kick you can add a few drops of hot sauce. Another way that I serve falafel is as a topping on my dinner salad of mixed greens, cucumbers, banana peppers, kalamata olives, tomatoes, beets, pickle chips and a sprinkle of feta cheese, all tossed in balsamic vinegar.
Traditionally, prepared falafel is cooked using a deep fried method. Preparing falafel is still low in fat and contains no saturated fats, as long as it’s not deep fried in a high saturated fat product, such as lard. Saturated Fats have been linked to certain types of cancers such as breast and prostate cancers. Falafel can also be baked in an oven and it will come out with a crispy outside and a moist, crumbly inside – sheer perfection!
Michigan State University Extension says that falafel is a good source of high protein, which helps our bodies produce amino acids, which are the building blocks to lean muscle.
Falafel is high in fiber and helps maintain and promote a healthy digestive system. Typically, each falafel ball contains around 15 grams of fiber and only three grams of fat. A serving size of falafel is three patties. Falafel can be found in many grocery stores in the freezer section or as a dry mix. In Michigan, stores like Meijer, Trader Joes and Whole Foods carry one or both of the items. Or you can make your own baked falafel, follow the easy recipe below.
1 small onion, chopped
1, 15 – 19 ounce can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon of fresh parsley, chopped
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
- Preheat oven to 350.
- Drizzle olive oil evenly in shallow baking dish.
While oven is preheating, mash chickpeas with mortar and pestle, or in a food processor. Add onions and garlic, and then blend.
Add remaining ingredients to create a thick, paste-like consistency.
- Shape into ping pong size balls and place in preheated baking dish. Bake for 15 – 20 minutes, turning halfway through cooking.