Falafel balls do NOT make any sense to me. The tiny little round, crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, although incredibly delicious, just don’t belong inside a flat disc shaped pita.
More often than night you go to the stand to pick up a falafel. By the time they’ve finished assembling it, the falafel is buried on the bottom of the pita with all the salads and accoutrements piled on top. They stuff one two balls on top of the salad pile so that your first few bites of the pita actually contains what you went to the stand in the first place…FALAFEL. A few bites in though, what was once an on-the-go quick meal becomes a whole project of playing Tetris with your sandwich so that you can attempt to get a little of everything in your pita in your mouth at the same time!
Clearly this falafel debacle needed some trouble shooting. What if the balls were not balls at all? What if they could 1/3 inch thick, flat patties that got crispy on the outsides and stayed soft on the insides? What if, instead of discs, we created half circle shapes so that each falafel could fit perfectly into half a pita? So, I thought a lot about it and came up with a better way to make and falafels.
Somewhere along the way my vision of falafel also became significantly healthier. The balls are no longer deep fried, but rather baked on a preheated super hot sheet pan (a real sheet pan, no disposable pans here)! On a whim I decided to completely leave out flour and egg. Although not all falafel recipes call for them, I haven’t see too many that left out both. I was so pleasantly suprised when my falafels came out of the oven and totally hep their shape.
now had a gluten free, vegan, clean falafel recipe that was easy to make, crispy on the outside and made perfect mathematical sense when I stuck it in the pita!
All that was left to do was to test it out on my kids. They are tough critics on a regular day, but throw a super traditional Israeli food at my Israeli children and they turn into New York Times style critics. No remorse. Needless to say, I was nervous.
They walked in the door so what was happening and asked for a falafel. I did not utter a single worked as I filled the pita. They watched, curiously as I added all their usuals and the falafel inside of their sandwich. I handed the first one over to Meir, and held my brother and started as he said his bracha and dove in. I could see the wheels turning in his head. Then all of a sudden, mouth still full of food, he said “Maman, this is BRILLIANT.” That’s right. He was on board. One by one the rest of the children trickled into the kitchen and every single one of them ate their falafels. Some noticed the change, some didn’t. But all that matter is that they all finished their whole thing, MESS FREE!
This shape lends itself to the busy person. It’s much easier to put a bunch patties on a sheet pan and half 35 minutes to get other things done than to stand over a hot pot, frying up tons of falafel balls. It also creates a neater pita. There’s no rearranging, or searching for that perfect bite. EVERY BITE IS PERFECT ALREADY! Your hands and shirts stay cleaner and your belly extremely satisfied.
So, this summer, when your looking for a light lunch or dinner try these out.
Happy Cooking Everyone!
1-3 Jalapeños (depending how spicy you like it.)
7 Cloves garlic, peeled
1 cup cilantro leaves
1&1/2 cups parsley leaves
Juice of 1/2 a lemon or lime (you know which I prefer)
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp Extra virgin olive oil
Place jalapeños and garlic in a food processor.
Blend till finely minced.
Add herbs, lemon, salt and pepper.
With food processor running drizzle in oil.
Taste to adjust seasoning.
Pour into an airtight container and keep in the fridge for up to 10 days!