Don't scoff just yet-- I honestly think this might be on my TOP TEN list of favorite dinners of all time...
When I graduated from high school, my sister and I spent the summer backpacking through Europe. She kept telling me that she wanted me to try a falafel but I though that fried balls of mashed up chickpeas sounded DISGUSTING. Finally, I tried a bite of hers, and couldn't believe how WONDERFUL they were. I've made them quite a few times over the years, and this is by far my favorite version. Super flavorful and crispy....Even my husband (who always turns his nose up at this meal) kept sneaking bites of the falafel patties when I wasn't looking!
And even though they're fried, I don't feel too guilty serving them because they are a great vegetarian dish jam-packed full of veggies and protein. Just try them once, and I PROMISE, you'll be addicted too. And if you're nervous about serving a vegetarian meal to picky kids or hungry husbands, TRUST ME...They'll never know. My unbelievably picky 2 1/2 year old still thinks they're chicken nuggets and my husband was so stuffed after 2 sandwiches, he could hardly breathe. Hope you love them as much as we do!
1 can chickpeas
1/2 yellow onion, roughly chopped (about 1 cup)
2 Tbs. fresh parsley
2 Tbs. fresh cilantro
1 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
4 cloves of garlic
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 c.+ flour
vegetable oil for frying
1 recipe of Soft pita bread (or store bought pitas-- If you're in a pinch)
English cucumber slices, quartered
shredded romaine lettuce
1/2 red onion, sliced paper thin
Place chickpeas and onions in a food processor. Pulse until almost smooth. Add the parsley, cilantro, salt, red pepper, garlic, and cumin. Process until well-blended but not pureed.
Remove chickpea mixture and place in a bowl. Sprinkle in the baking powder and flour, and gently mix. Add enough flour so that the dough can form a small ball without being too sticky. Refrigerate, covered, while you heat the oil and chop the veggies. Mixture can easily be made several hours ahead of time.
Using a small cookie dough scoop sprayed with Pam, form the chickpea mixture into balls about the size of walnuts (you should have about 16-18 balls). Flatten between greased hands, until each ball becomes a 3 inch circle.
Heat 2 inches of oil to 350 degrees in a deep pan (I always use a candy thermometer to make sure my oil temperature stays consist ant) and fry 1 ball to test. If it falls apart, add a little flour. Then fry about 5 balls at a time for a few minutes on each side, or until golden brown. Drain on paper towels and sprinkle with salt.
Stuff warm pita bread with 2-3 falafel balls and all vegetable toppings. Add a generous amount of ranch dressing and serve hot.