Easy Homemade Falafel

Falafel fry up!
Falafel fry up!

Sometimes I just want a falafel sandwich.  I like the nutty, crispy, patties and they were  go to comfort food for me in New Orleans (read, hangover food!).  I’ve yet to find a really good spot in Knoxville for falafel – with the exception of a really good place downtown that is ALWAYS closed, or sold out of falafel.  In fact, I can only offer hearsay that they’e good, because I’ve never managed to have them.  So I’m left with an at home version if I’m going to have falafel.  But most of the recipes I’ve tried at home disappointed.  Of course, once it disappointed because I tried to make them healthier, by oven baking them.  Which pretty much takes away what I like best about them – their crunchy crispy FRIEDNESS.  But like a lot of veggie burgers I’ve made, the batter tended to be too wet, too crumbly, or too bland.

But scrolling through my Pinterest feed last weekend, looking for inspiration (what, you don’t do this before you go grocery shopping every week?) I found a recipe for falafel and the craving for them was suddenly THAT INTENSE that I had to make them.  Baby is apparently a fan of falafel.  I decided to try this recipe, and thought it was great, but could use a bit more of most of the spices. I adjusted it and as very happy with the results of the falafel itself.  The accompanying tahini sauce recipe was less satisfying, though, as I found it over thick, so I will be tweaking that.  I’ll post about the tahini sauce that we liked best later in the week – because I am hoping to get it right today!

But the recipe below worked pretty damn good for falafel, and I am definitely putting it in regular rotation in our house.  The batter made enough for us to have three meals of falafel stuffed pitas, and I didn’t get a bit tired of them.  And its a very affordable meal to make and have on hand – we ate all the batter up within about four days, but I think it would safely keep for about a week.  It was, in fact, better every day as the flavors married together better and better.  If anyone freezes it with success, let me know.

I am going to keep tweaking here and there, and am open to any brilliant falafel making suggestion you have – seriously, I am sure someone out there has a suggestion that will take this from good to extraordinary.  And I’m having company in a few weeks and would like to include a falafel meal.  So send them away!

Homemade Falafel
Gratefully Adapted from Just a Taste

  • 2 cups roughly chopped white onion
  • 1 head of garlic – if it is a large head I would use 8-10 cloves.  But I like garlic and felt the recipe needed a bit more- the original recipe calls for 6 cloves.
  • 2 cups cooked chickpeas, drained.  I used canned, well drained, because I had them in the house and I had to have the falafel.  I had to – it was for the baby, right? 😉  They worked just fine.  Do be careful not to over process the mix, though.
  • 1 cup lightly packed parsley leaves
  • 1 cup lightly packed cilantro leaves
  • 1 small pepper – I’ve used both jalapeno and serrano, and I prefer the serrano – this is an optional step though.  Its fine as is, we just like heat, and found that this really helps give the falafel a flavor boost.
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1-2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour, plus more if needed to absorb moisture
  • Oil, for sauteing – I used sunflower, which worked very well I think
  • Pita bread, for serving.  You an also use a tortilla or wrap if you prefer your falafel that way.

    My mixture just before frying.  It's moist, but holds together well.
    My mixture just before frying. It’s moist, but holds together well.

    Add the onion, garlic cloves, and pepper if using to the bowl of a food processor and pulse just until they are finely minced. Scrape the mixture into a prep bowl and set to the side, while you add the chickpeas, parsley, cilantro, salt, chili powder, and cumin to the bowl of the food processor and run it until they are blended but not pureed.

    Return the onion, pepper, and garlic mixture to the food processor, along with the baking powder and just enough flour so that when you run the processor, the mixture begins to form a small ball and is not sticky. For me, this required more than 1/2 cup of flour, in total, but not much more.  This is where those cooking instincts come in – eyeball it!

    The original recipe calls for chilling the mixture at this point for an hour.  I confess I did not do this for our first round of falafel.  I used an ice cream scoop to fry a few patties for dinner right away, but then, because falafel is best served piping hot, i refrigerated the batter and whenever we wanted falafel over the next few days, just friend up a quick few patties.  So its definitely an easy make ahead meal.

    We served this on pita, with slices of fresh crunchy onion, tahini sauce, and tomatoes.  We marinated our tomatoes for a while in vinegar and herbs, and added some diced onion to that mixture.  I’ll share that recipe on Wednesday when I post about our improved version of tahini sauce, because I felt this tomato mixture really elevated and complimented the falafel sandwich.

    So that’s how I made them.  How do you make yours?  What suggestions for improvement do you have?  


Blood Orange, Avocado, Goat Cheese, and Pine Nut Salad with Pomegranate Dressing

Blood Orange, Avocado, Goat Cheese, and Pine Nut Salad

Its ALMOST spring.  I am so eager for fresh berries, salad greens, and light herbs that I am wishing the days away.  But blood oranges are also amazing, and I love citrus season too.  It will soon give way to my beloved strawberries, blackberries, and blueberries, but before then I wanted to celebrate the blood orange.  I’ve been using them a lot lately (see this blood orange curd, which was amazing), but as I’m eager for a spinach salad with strawberries, I thought, why not fill that craving with blood oranges?  Honestly, the result was probably even better.

Salads are simple.  Except they aren’t.  The right salad is a good balance of crunch, creamy, and fresh. Personally, I can’t stand iceberg lettuce, and the sight of a salad made of limp tomatoes, iceberg lettuce, and perhaps an onion or other vegetable makes me SAD.  I love inventive salads, though, and frequently experiment with different combinations at home.

I loved this salad so much I’ve made it several times now.  You can also substitute other citrus – grapefruit works exceptionally well, as do Cara Cara oranges, or navel oranges.  Other nuts work too – but the pine nuts are my favorite.  Of course, right?  They are the most expensive after all.

This salad works for a dinner party.  But it also works for just me.  Increase the size, and it will make a satisfying meal.  And one that will keep you in your skinny jeans!

For Two Servings of Salad:

1 Blood Orange, Supremed
1 half avocado, sliced
2 Cups Salad Greens
1-2 tablespoons pine nuts
1-2 tablespoons goat cheese

Arrange the greens on two plates or bowls.  Place blood orange slices in center of greens.  Arrange avocado slices on the side, dividing the half avocado between both plates.  Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of pine nuts, and 1 tablespoon of goat cheese on each plate or bowl.  Drizzle with dressing (below).


1/2 Cup Pomegranate Vinegar
1/4 Cup good quality olive oil

Place vinegar in a small saucepan and bring to a medium heat.  Stir or rotate the saucepan so the vinegar doesn’t burn.  Reduce it slightly, then remove from heat.  Place in a jar of mixing cup, and add the oil.  Stir to combine, and drive over salad.

Caramelized Onion and Goat Cheese Quiche, Or, How to Prepare an Easy Brunch Dish that Masquerades as Posh

Fresh out of the oven, caramelized onion and goat cheese quiche.
Fresh out of the oven, caramelized onion and goat cheese quiche.

I decided to do a rather last minute brunch this past weekend as we had a friend visiting us here in Knoxville from Bolivia.  Knoxville, as I’ve mentioned, is not the most exciting place.  And, like us, our friend is a pescetarian, which means there aren’t a ton of choices for a nice meal out.  And I love making brunch, actually, because I think it’s easier to do a lovely, impressive brunch for a lot of people than it is a dinner party.  It’s cheaper too – a single quiche can feed a party, but salmon for six adds up fast.

In New Orleans I used to hold frequent mimosa laden brunches.  Here in Knoxville we entertain much less, but when I do entertain, I prefer to do it for brunch, though I find it confusing when people don’t go through a whole case of champagne at brunch.  Isn’t that the POINT? 🙂  The brunch was successful, we had a lovely day, but no one drank even a single mimosa.  I’m pregnant, thats my excuse, but it never fails to make me miss The Big Easy!

This past weekend we had quiche, blueberry pancakes with homemade blueberry chia jam and homemade orange scented whipped cream, apple sage veggie sausage, and a side of fruit consisting of grapefruit, blood oranges, Cara Cara oranges, and blueberries.  I chose the quiche because the guest of honor does not actually like runny eggs.  I know! The horror!  So while I had planned to make oeuff en cocotte, about which I will soon blog, I changed it up to my favorite quiche.  I find this one to be my most requested, and quite a crowd pleaser.  It’s also easy as pie.  Well, egg pie 🙂

Easy, four ingredient pie crust.
Easy, four ingredient pie crust.

I needed a quick crust for this, though, and I searched on Pinterest for an easy option.  I found one from CincyShopper.com I will definitely make again.  Its not the best I’ve ever had, or even made for that matter, but I think it is easy enough and reliable.  I had crust I was pressing into my pie dish in less than ten minutes, which I’ll count as a win.


For the Quiche:

Six Eggs
1/2 cup of goat cheese
1 1/4 Cups Caramelized Onions (about three medium onions)
1 Cup Half and Half or Heavy Cream
1/2 tsp salt
A dash of pepper
Fresh Dill for Decorating

The harder part is properly caramelizing the onions. Which is actually not at all hard, but time consuming.  I find it takes me about 45 minutes to do them properly.  My husband jokes that we should just make up a batch of these every week because we use them in so many dishes.  Which is a bit decadent.  But hey, I’m going to play the pregnancy card here.  If it doesn’t make me sick to think about it, I’m eating it!

To properly caramelize onions, slice the onions, and place them in a pan, preferably cast iron, and generously salt them.  I use about 1/4 cup of oil.  Toss the onions in the oil.  Cover, and place on lowest heat setting for 20 minutes, stirring maybe once about halfway through.  After twenty minutes, remove cover.  Onions are now caramelized, but bring them to medium heat, and brown to desired color.  You might need a tablespoon more oil for this process, and you might not.  I think that depends on the pan and the heat, and honestly, a little bit on the onions themselves!

Place the onions in the bottom of the pie crust.  I use a generous amount, a little over a cup of onions.

In a medium size mixing bowl, whisk six eggs with a half a teaspoon of salt, and the pepper.  Add in 1 cup of half and half, and mix together with the eggs.  Add in half a cup of goat  cheese, and just stir to combine.  I actually prepare this while the onions are on the lowest heat setting, just before they are ready to brown, but quiche is relatively forgiving.  You can wait till your onions are done and slightly cool, even, before you combine everything.

Pour the egg and cheese mixture over the top of the onions, and use a whisk or fork to gently loosen the onions and let the egg mixture flow through.  Place in oven for about 45 minutes at 350.  When quiche is set, remove from oven and sprinkle with fresh dill.  Serve warm, refrigerate, or freeze.

Note: I use a crust shield for the first 30 minutes, because my oven is hot.  I remove the crust shield for the last ten to fifteen minutes.  If you have a better oven than mine, you can probably adjust the temperature up to 375 degrees, and the entire cooking time down to 30-40 minutes.  Lower and slower is what works for my oven though!