Vegetarians don’t have hot dogs to turn to when they crave fast food. We have falafel in bread. Deep fried chickpea balls served with vegetables, tomato salsa, hummus and a yogurt sauce. During my years as a vegetarian I have probably tried every single falafel restaurant in Stockholm, many in other parts of Sweden, and a few on other places around the world. But strangely enough I have only made them myself a handful of times. So we thought it was about time that we made our own version of falafel in bread.
When we first started talking about this, we quickly agreed on some ground rules:
1. To skip the bread and wrap them in big green leaves instead. We learned to do this on our trip in Vietnam. Cabbage leaves are perfect in size and have a great crisp taste. You could also try big lettuce leaves.
2. To bake them instead of frying them. The whole deep frying thing doesn’t rhyme well with us. Also, it is not necessary at all. As long as you bake them on a high temperature they will be crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside.
3. To make them green. We once tried these really nice tasting falafels that were completely green on the inside. We can’t remember what they were made on, but in our version we used pistachio, parsley and mint to achieve the green look. Apart from looking nice, these ingredients also makes them taste divine and oh so flavorful.
4. To make them vegan. Even though we eat egg and some dairy products, we try to keep some of our recipes vegan. This time we made the yogurt dressing on soy-yogurt (look for it in health stores). Since we used buckwheat flour we also managed to keep them gluten free.
Baked Herb & Pistachio Falafel
Serves 4-6 (about 24 falafels)
We used mint and parsley to flavor and color the falafels, but feel free to try it with whatever fresh herbs you have growing in your garden at the moment.
8 sprigs of fresh mint
8 sprigs of fresh parsley
200 g pistachio nuts
2 cups/4,8 dl garbanzo beans/chickpeas (we used canned)
2 cloves garlic
_ small onion
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp cumin
1 tbsp flour (we used buckwheat flour)
1 tsp baking powder
Start by blending the herbs in a mixer for about 30 seconds. Add pistachio nuts and pulse until well combined. Rinse the garbanzo beans. Add them and the rest of the ingredients into the mixer and blend for about a minute. Youmight have to stir around with a spoon occasionally. Try to keep the texture of the falafel dough a little rough. Make 24 small round falafels, place on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper and bake for about 15 minutes on 375°F/200°C, turn every 5 minutes to get an even brown color.
Cashew Nut Dressing
6 tbsp cashew butter (look for it in health stores or make it yourself)
6 tbsp canola or rapeseed oil
3 tbsp lemon juice
a pinch of salt
Whisk all the ingredients in a small bowl until they are combined.
1 cup/2,4 dl soy yoghurt (or regular if you prefer)
4 sprigs of fresh mint (chopped)
1 lime, juice and zest
Add yoghurt, mint and lime in a bowl and stir around until combined. Place in the fridge for 30 minutes to get an intense mint flavor.
Tomato Chili Salsa
3 tomatoes, chopped into small dices
1/2 red chili, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
3 tbsp olive oil
salt & pepper
Chop the ingredients and add everything to a serving bowl. Stir around. Add salt and pepper according to taste. Serve immediately or put in the fridge for 30 minutes to get more intense flavors.
Assembling the falafel
1 head white cabbage (or any lettuce with big leaves)
1 red romaine lettuce
falafels (recipe above)
cashew nut dressing (recipe above)
mint yoghurt (recipe above)
tomato salsa (recipe above)
Separate the leaves by turning the lettuce and cabbage upside down and removing the stem or cone with a knife.
Put it under running water and gently separate the leaves one by one. Pat dry.
Hold one cabbage leaf in your hand, place a lettuce leaf inside of it, add 2 or 3 falafels, a spoonful of cashew nut dressing, mint yoghurt, tomato salsa and top with some fresh herbs, chopped pistachio and a couple of raisins. Fold it gently. Enjoy!