Mediterranean Cooking

Falafel salad with yoghurt sauce

1 Hour
Difficulty
4 people
Vegetarian

One of the first dishes to convince society at large that a vegetarian diet could be rich in strong flavours was falafel. These are a kind of croquettes of Arabic origin, made from chickpeas or other pulses. They are crunchy on the outside and soft in the middle, and are flavoured with aromatic fresh herbs.

Falafel is usually served as a starter or snack with a dip such as hummus, or in pitta bread. Traditionally they are made by hand with a mortar and pestle, but nowadays most people use a food processor.

Even so, some keys to making perfect falafel are as follows:

- Use dried chickpeas: dried are better than tinned chickpeas; soak and then cook them (see recipe ingredients, below). Some recipes use tinned chickpeas, but these do not work as well. You need to soak the dried chickpeas for 24 hours before making the falafel.

- Use quality fresh herbs and spices. Arab cuisine is known for its use of spices. If you use a high-quality ground cumin or fresh coriander, the dish will be greatly improved, as fresh and aromatic herbs are the key to this type of cuisine.

- Serve with sauce. Chickpea falafel are a bit dry and are best served with a yoghurt or tahini sauce. Tahini is a dense sauce based on sesame, and is used to accompany many Arabic dishes.

To make this salad, first make the falafel and then the yoghurt sauce. It is a classic falafel recipe with a slight variation: using a deep fryer is the most common way to cook falafel, but to make them healthier, we suggest baking them in the oven. Extra virgin olive oil is the key ingredient to make them crispy. The result is excellent, lighter and with a very aromatic flavour.

The yoghurt sauce adds a special touch to the falafel salad – the creamy texture complements the soft yet crunchy felafel and is ideal for pairing with a Rosé Cava.

Ingredients

1 cup uncooked dried chickpeas (previously soaked for 24 hours, drained and rinsed).
½ cup chopped shallot
3 cloves garlic
1 tsp lemon zest
1 tsp ground coriander
¾ tsp sea salt
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
¼ tsp baking powder
1 cup chopped fresh coriander leaves and stems
1 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves and stems
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil plus more for drizzling over the falafel
For the yoghurt sauce:
1 small pot (125 g) of creamy yoghurt
½ chopped garlic clove
Juice of ½ lemon
Fresh dill
For the salad base:
Diced vegetables: tomatoes, cucumber
Fresh herbs: chopped parsley and mint
Pickled red onions

Instructions

1
Preheat the oven to 200 ° and line a large baking tray with greaseproof paper.
2
In a large food processor, add the soaked chickpeas (at this point they will be swollen, but not cooked), shallot, garlic, lemon zest, cumin, coriander, salt, cayenne, yeast, coriander, parsley and extra virgin olive oil. Blend until well amalgamated, but without becoming a puree.
3
Shape the falafel using two large spoons, rounding them off with your hands (makes between 12 and 15). At this point, the falafel’s texture must be firm enough to maintain their shape. If not, put the mixture in the food processor again until amalgamated.
4
Place the falafel on the baking tray, drizzle over extra virgin olive oil (this is the key to keeping them moist) and bake in the oven. After 14 minutes, turn over and bake for another 10 to 12 minutes until golden brown.
5
While the falafel are cooking, prepare the yoghurt sauce. Put the yoghurt, half a chopped clove of garlic, the juice of half a lemon, and dill to taste into a bowl. Stir well. Keep the sauce in the fridge until ready to serve.
6
Place the herbs, diced vegetables and pickled onions on a plate. Top with the falafel and dress with the yoghurt sauce.

The salad is ready to serve. As a starter, accompany with a plate of hummus and warm pitta bread in the centre of the table, Arab style. Remember that a glass of Rosé Cava complements this meal perfectly.

Tips

Chickpeas: dried chickpeas cannot be replaced with canned chickpeas, as the texture of the falafel would be too hard.

Yeast: this will make the falafel more palatable and allow them to expand more when baking in the oven.

Salad base: the salad base can be replaced with seasonal herbs and vegetables of your choice.

Freeze: if you do not want to eat all the falafel, you can freeze once cooked. Then reheat in the oven for 10 minutes at 200 ° C.

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