Lentil Falafel

lentil falafel tastefood

~Lentil Falafel with Spicy Yogurt Tahini Sauce and Mint~

These patties are a cross between falafel and keftas. They are a terrific vegetarian meal or appetizer. We dipped them in a spicy yogurt sauce, but you can also stuff them in pita pockets with a spoonful of sauce and a handful of fresh mint or cilantro.

Lentil Falafel
Makes approximately 16 patties

1 1/2 cups cooked lentils
1/2 cup medium-grind bulgur
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne

Vegetable oil for pan-frying

1 cup Greek whole milk yogurt
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon tahini
2 teaspoons harissa paste
1/4 teaspoon salt

Place the lentils and bulgur in a medium bowl. Ad the olive oil and lemon juice and stir to combine. Cover and let stand at room temperature until liquid is absorbed and bulgur is tender, about 15 minutes.

Transfer to a food processor and add the remaining falafel ingredients. Pulse to form a chunky paste.

With wet hands lightly form the lentils in 1 1/2-inch patties about 1/2-inch thick. The mixture will be sticky and you will need to rinse your hands between batches.

Heat 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in a large cast iron or heavy bottomed skillet over medium-high heat. Add the patties in batches without overcrowding. Cook until golden brown and heated through, turning once with a spatula. Transfer to a plate lined with a paper towel. Repeat with remaining patties.

Whisk the sauce ingredients in a small bowl. Serve falafel with sauce on the side for dipping. Or stuff 1 to 2 patties in mini-pita pockets, then add a spoonful of sauce and fresh mint leaves.

Tip: For completely different rendition, don’t process in the food processor. Simply dump the mixture in a skillet with a little olive oil and saute over medium-high heat until hot and slightly crispy. Serve as an alternative to rice or pilaf.

Farro Pilaf

Farro Pilaf

When I was young one of my favorite side dishes was rice pilaf. It came in a slim box with a portion of rice and a sachet of spices, dehydrated chicken stock – and goodness knows what else – all set to prepare with water on the stovetop. The results were addictive and exotically flavored. My brothers and I would fight over who got to finish the bowl on the dinner table; one box was never enough.

These days I make pilaf from scratch – and you probably do, too, without realizing it. The principle behind pilaf is that rice, or another grain such as bulgur, is sautéed then steamed in a flavorful broth, along with a few aromatics such as onion, garlic and spices. When it’s ready to serve, the rice is fluffed to separate the grains, and fresh herbs may be added for flavor and adornment. So before you reach for a box of pilaf in the supermarket with a long list of ingredients, remember that it’s really quite easy – and much cheaper – to make your own from scratch.

Farro Pilaf

This recipe replaces rice with farro, and includes toasted almonds, lemon, mint and parsley. It makes a hefty pilaf, which is nutty, fresh and packed with protein and nutrients. Depending on how salty your stock is, adjust the amount of salt to taste. Serves 6 as a side dish.

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 large shallot, finely chopped, about 1/4 cup
1 small garlic clove, minced
1 1/2 cups farro
2 1/4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne, or to taste
1/2 cup coarsely chopped toasted almonds (or pinenuts)
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1/2 cup Italian parsley leaves, chopped
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, chopped

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add shallot and garlic and sauté until shallot begins to soften, 2 minutes. Add farro and stir to coat the grains. Carefully add the stock (it will bubbly vigorously), salt, pepper and cayenne. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer until the farro is tender but chewy and liquid is absorbed, about 25 minutes. Remove from heat and fluff with a fork.  Transfer farro to a bowl. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil, almonds and lemon zest and stir to combine. Cool slightly. Before serving mix in parsley and mint. Serve warm or at room temperature.

If you like this, you might enjoy these recipes from TasteFood:
Chicken and Farro Soup with Shiitake Mushrooms
Quinoa Tabbouleh
Fregola Sarda with Asparagus and Lemon