Salads are a tricky business. The idea should be… hmm, could be… how about, ought to be… healthy. Yet once you load them up with all the toppings the “healthy” aspect has kinda gone out the window. I should interject here that if you’re not wanting a healthy salad then go for the good stuff! I love salads with meats, cheeses, and rich dressings but if you’re wanting something on the healthy side look no further. Best part of Molly Yeh‘s Falafel Fattoush? You’d never think of this as a “healthy” salad.
I have to admit I love falafel. So when I read in Molly’s intro to this recipe that she too loves falafel and how eating falafel was a regular thing for her, I was hooked. Then I turned the page in the cookbook to look at the actual falafel recipe and next to it is an image of this salad. The picture had me wanting to eat the paper it looked so good!
Ready to have a go at this tasty treat?
Before you even begin, maybe the night before, you need to soak your chickpeas:
- 2 cups dried Chickpeas
Place them in a large bowl and cover with a couple inches of water. They need to soak for at least 10 hours.
Start with preparing the salad:
- 454 grams Spinach
- 1 English Cucumber, thinly sliced
- 2 packages Heirloom Cherry Tomatoes, halved (In the recipe she calls for 2 medium tomatoes cut into ¾ inch pieces. Since tomatoes aren’t in season now I just went with what looked best.)
- ½ Red Onion, cut in half and sliced thin
- 1 bunch Radishes, sliced thin
- 1 package Fresh Mint, roughly chopped
- Fresh Cracked Black Pepper
The amounts I gave is for how I make it when doing our 10 lunch salads. However, this is a SALAD! Do what YOU like! Just stick with this flavor combination until you try it. I have to admit I am not a fan of fresh mint and was hesitant about adding it but this salad really benefits from it.
Simply divide up all the ingredients amounts the 10 lunch containers. When doing salads that will be taken as a lunch or that you are doing in advance always layer the ingredients in airtight containers. This will help prevent your salad from getting soggy.
Now onto the dressing:
- 128 grams Tahini
- 4 fl ounces Water
- Juice of 1 Lemon
- 4 Garlic Cloves, minced
- 1 ½ teaspoon Sumac
- ½ teaspoon Salt
Whisk all the ingredients together well to combine. Keep in a pourable container. If storing in the fridge let sit out at room temperature for a bit as the mixture will significantly thicken in the fridge. Dress your salad only as your ready to eat it. This volume gives you about 30 grams of dressing per salad. Take note that there is no fat or sugar in this dressing! So enjoy!
Now on to the fun bit FALAFEL!
In a dry pan toast:
- 2 tablespoons Coriander Seeds
- 4 teaspoons Cumin Seeds
Shake the pan a little as they taste and pull from the heat once aromatic and just staring to pop or smoke. Set aside. Drain the chickpeas.
In a food processor add:
- Drained Chickpeas
- Toasted Spices
- ½ Red Onion, roughly chopped
- 8 Garlic Cloves
- ½ cup Cilantro, loosely packed, roughly chopped, stems and all
- ½ cup Flat-leaf Parsley, loosely packed, roughly chopped, stems and all
- ½ teaspoon Baking Soda
- 1 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
- 2 teaspoon Salt
- Fresh Cracked Black Pepper
- A pinch of Red Pepper Flakes
- 4 tablespoons Flour
- 3 tablespoons Lemon Juice
For the best texture do not do a continuos run, rather, pulse. Pulse about 80-100 times but stop every 20 and scrape down the sides. You are looking for something a little coarser than sand. If you can do this ahead of time I think you’ll be happy. Giving these flavors time to marry doesn’t hurt at all.
In the instructions she has you form them in to balls about the size of a golf ball. I used a 1 ounce cookie scoop. You gently form them into a ball and then in a pan with about a ¼ inch of oil you fry them.
Now I know you’re thinking, I thought you said this is healthy. If you do this right and don’t leave it sitting in the oil forever it actually doesn’t use that much oil. If you are doing it in a pan you just want to keep rolling them around to get an even color. I wish I could give you tip and trick for this but the only one I got is to use Grapessed oil when frying as it has a much higher smoke point than olive oil and it’s a healthy oil to use.
The reason I can’t tell you how to fry them is that I used my deep fryer. This is in my opinion the best way to do this. You simply place the falafel in your basket and submerge in the oil heated to 355ºF and fry for 2 minutes. This ensures a perfectly even fry all the way around. If you do these in advance I would also recommend storing them separately from the salads and put them on just as you’re ready to enjoy the salad.
The final topping for this salad are pita croutons. You can absolutely use store bought pitas however for this recipe I did make my own. She dies recommend that they are about 3 day ol stale pitas, sliced into ¾ inch pieces. Again you fry them up in a little oil and toss with a sprinkling of salt. I also did these in my deep fryer for just 1 minute to get golden brown.
All thats left is to assemble and enjoy! I know this recipe sounds complex but it really isn’t. It’s just a little planning. Blitzing up your falafel just requires soaking the chickpeas over night and setting your pitas out to get stale. I make a large batch of pitas an freeze them so I always have them on hand. I would think you could also make a big batch of the falafel base and freeze it but I haven’t tried that yet. All in all this is a healthy option for a salad with no meat, no dairy, and next to no fats this is one I will be going back to time and time again.