Falafel – gluten-free, healthy, and vegan!

Falafel

falafel ingredientsI discovered falafel when I was a young adult. Friends brought me to a restaurant called Jerusalem Garden that is known for its excellent falafel. The restaurant was located in a tiny house, where you sat across the counter from the kitchen and could watch the cook in action. The cook had a gadget that looked like my grandmother’s coffee percolator, of all things! He used that to shape balls of a greenish paste, which he then deep fried. Brown falafel balls emerged, which he served tucked into pita bread with lettuce, tomatoes, and a creamy white sauce, all wrapped up in a piece of foil so that you could hold it in your hands to eat it. It was delicious!!

When my family couldn’t eat gluten and dairy, I figured that falafel was lost to unbaked falafelus forever. But happily I was wrong! This gluten-free, vegan falafel recipe is one of our favorite recipes at our house. Even my pickiest eater happily scarfs them down.

This recipe easily mixes together in the food processor. Then you scoop blobs of dough onto a cookie sheet, and bake. A quick rinse of the food processor, and the sauce mixes together quickly in it. Add toppings, and you have a satisfying meal.

This recipe is my adaptation of Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s falafel recipe in the cookbook Vegan with a Vefalafel after bakingngeance.

I’m a big fan of Isa Chandra Moskowitz. Her cookbooks have some of the funniest text that I have ever seen in a cookbook (her description of falafel — and singing about it at summer camp — is hilarious!), and her recipes always turn out well. Back when I was a leader of a Girl Scout troop that had kids with food allergies, special diets, and picky eaters, I would often find recipes for baked goods in Moskowitz’s blog, The Post-Punk Kitchen, and make them as snacks for the Girl Scout troop. Her recipes always turned out well. Someday I will falafel for dinnerpost my gluten-free version of her Marbled Banana Bread recipe. It is always a big hit — it looks beautiful and tastes great. And her Green Lasagna Rolls — the recipe is currently on the front page of her website — are truly excellent. They have quickly become a favorite recipe around here.

Anyway, onward to falafel!

5.0 from 1 reviews
Falafel - gluten-free, healthy, and vegan!
 
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Baked orbs of chickpea dough, with a creamy vegan tahini sauce and lots of fixings. Yum!
Author:
Recipe type: Dinner
Cuisine: Middle Eastern
Serves: serves 5-6 people
Ingredients
Falafel ingredients
  • 4 cans cooked chickpeas, rinsed, or 6 cups of cooked chickpeas
  • 1 1/2 cups of gluten-free breakfast cereal, such as Erewhon's Crispy Brown Rice cereal
  • 6 tablespoons gluten-free flour (such as brown rice flour and potato starch)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder (or 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda plus 1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar)
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 3/4 cup parsley
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 3 tablespoons canola and/or olive oil
  • a little black pepper, ground
Toppings
  • lettuce
  • chopped tomatoes or grape tomatoes
  • chopped avocadoes
  • tahini dressing (see recipe below)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Place all falafel ingredients (but not the toppings!) in a food processor. Blend until smooth.
  3. Place blobs of dough on two nonstick cookie sheets or on parchment paper on cookie sheets. The blobs should be about 1 1/2 tablespoons. I use an OXO Good Grips Medium Cookie Scoop, but it will also work fine to use one dinnertable tablespoon to scoop up blobs of dough and another dinnertable spoon to push the dough off of it. The dough doesn't usually spread while it bakes, so it is okay to put the blobs close together.
  4. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until the falafel is starting to turn brown.
  5. While the falafel bakes, make the tahini sauce, chop the avocado, etc.
  6. To serve: Place some lettuce on a plate. Mound eight pieces of falafel in the center. Top with tahini sauce, tomatoes, and avocado pieces. Yum!

Here is the recipe for tahini sauce. This is my version of the recipe from Vegan With A Vengeance. The sauce is really good on other things, too. For example, it is delicious mixed with spaghetti and veggies for dinner.
5.0 from 1 reviews
Tahini Sauce
 
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A creamy tahini sauce that is great on falafel or anything else!
Author:
Recipe type: sauce
Cuisine: Middle-Eastern
Serves: 1 1/4 cups
Ingredients
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • optional: 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 cup tahini (Look for a brand that doesn't taste bitter, such as Once Again or Maranatha)
  • 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika or smoked paprika
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley
  • 1/2 cup hot water (not boiling, just hot)
Instructions
  1. Tip: If your tahini is chunky, the easiest way to measure it is to put the 1/2 cup water into a glass measuring cup, then add tahini until you reach 1 cup.
  2. If you are using the garlic, chop it and cook it in the oil for 2 minutes -- don't let it burn. (I always leave out the garlic, because we have a person with a garlic allergy. I love garlic, but the sauce is still good even without it.)
  3. Place all ingredients into a food processor or blender, and blend until smooth.
  4. Serve warm on falafel or other food.

 

virtual vegan potluckThis recipe is a part of the Virtual Vegan Potluck.  Here are the links to the next and previous recipes in the loop:

Stay Calm and Go Back

Stay Calm and Go Forward

Potato Salad Deluxe – warm, nutritious, and satisfying

Potato Salad Deluxe

This deluxe potato salad makes a filling, satisfying, warm dinner.  You can load it up with healthy veggies and make it a very well-rounded meal.

This recipe is loosely based on the version in a long-ago edition of the Betty Crocker cookbook.

I add lots of veggies to potato salad each time I cook it, so it is never exactly the same food twice. Some nice items to add are herbs and spices, chopped vegetables (raw or cooked), cashews, and veggie dogs.  You can also vary your varieties of potatoes — Yukon Gold or Yellow Finns are great!

This potato salad can be served cold or warm. I like it better warm! The original Betty Crocker recipe says to chill potato salad for 2 hours before serving, but I usually serve it as soon as all the ingredients are mixed together. It makes a good winter dinner that way.  Though it’s lovely served warm in the summertime, too.

Last night when I cooked this, my twelve-year-old daughter, Kendra, said, “Mom, I really like that you are doing this blog. You are making all of my favorite dinners, like potato salad.”  Yum!

Potato Salad Deluxe
 
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This deluxe potato salad makes a filling, satisfying, warm dinner. You can load it up with healthy veggies and make it a very well-rounded meal.
Author:
Recipe type: Dinner
Cuisine: American
Serves: serves 5 or more, depending on how many optional extras you add
Ingredients
  • 3 eggs
  • 2-3 pounds potatoes (about 8-10 medium potatoes -- Yukon Gold are great here)
  • 1 batch Beannaise - a quick homemade mayo replacer, or use 1/2 cup of mayonnaise -- but this recipe tastes much better and is healthier with Beannaise
  • 1 medium stalk celery, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1-2 red bell peppers, chopped
  • Optional: 1 cup cashews
  • Optional: cut-up tofu dogs
  • Optional: quartered artichoke hearts
  • Optional: asparagus cut into 1 inch pieces
  • Optional: olive slices
  • Optional: cabbage, chopped small (uncooked is fine)
  • Optional: spinach
  • Optional: summer squash / zucchini
  • Optional: spices, herbs, fresh parsley, dill weed!
  • Optional: chopped pickles
Instructions
  1. Put eggs in a pot of cold water. Heat to boiling; lower heat. Simmer for 15 minutes. Pour out the water, add ice cubes and cold running water. Peel the eggs. Chop them, or slice them twice with an egg slicer, slicing in two different directions.
  2. While the eggs are cooking, chop the potatoes into half-inch cubes. Put in a pot. Add enough cold water to cover the potatoes. Heat to boiling. Boil 10 to 12 minutes, until the potatoes pierce easily with a fork. Drain.
  3. While the potatoes are boiling, make the beannaise.
  4. Put all of the ingredients into a big bowl. Stir thoroughly.
  5. Serve right away, or chill it for several hours before serving.

 

Black Bean Tostadas

Black Bean Tostadas

This quick and delicious meal has a story behind it.

Many years ago, when I was a young single person, my friend Rob and I were discussing what to do for dinner. It went something like this:

What do you want to do for dinner?
I don’t know. What do you want to do for dinner?
I don’t know.
Too bad Ann Arbor doesn’t have vegetarian restaurants like Ithaca.
Yeah. Ithaca has great vegetarian restaurants.
Too bad we can’t eat dinner there.
Yeah. It would be neat to eat dinner in Ithaca.
We couldn’t go there, could we?
Well, maybe we could! Want to go to Ithaca for dinner?
Okay, let’s go have dinner at the Moosewood!
Are you serious?
Yeah! Let’s go!

washing black beansThat was on a Saturday in the late afternoon. We hopped in the car and drove eight hours to Ithaca, New York, stopping for a few hours of sleep in a tiny motel somewhere in Canada. We reached Ithaca in time for Sunday dinner — which I thought was really the perfect day to be there because I loved the cookbook Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant. I had never been to Ithaca before, but I loved reading cookbooks from the three vegetarian restaurants there, especially the Moosewood.

The meal we ate at Moosewood was Black Bean Tostadas.

It was worth the trip.

Afterward, I discovered that the recipe for Black Bean Tostadas was in the Sundays at Moosewood cookbook. So I tried cooking it. It came out well.

beans for tostadasOver the years I have adapted it in many ways, and made it my own. I am not sure that anybody at Moosewood would recognize this recipe the way I make it.

That trip to Ithaca was twenty five years ago. I am sorry to say that I have lost touch with Rob.

Ann Arbor now has several excellent vegetarian restaurants — but I still think fondly of that crazy weekend road trip to the Moosewood.


The original version of this recipe was served on a crispy round corn tortilla. I’ve always found tostadas very hard to eat without having food go flying in all directions. So I changed this recipe to use crushed corn chips instead of a tortilla. I’ve played around squashed corn chips for tostadaswith the ingredients to meet my family’s food needs. And I have speeded it up, so that the whole meal can be cooked in 30 minutes.

My kids like this meal served with the corn chips on the side and all the parts of the meal in separate piles. I like it all heaped together, with avocado and salsa strewn throughout.


This recipe is dedicated in memory of Sue Talbert, who liked this recipe. Sue passed away last year, far too young.

Here is Sue’s version of this recipe.


Jan Wolter says that when he eats this recipe, he tries to put lots of liquid on the corn chips. Normally soggy corn chips don’t taste so good, but in this recipe they are transformed into something altogether different and very yummy. I know soggy corn chips sound really awful — and some brands are — but I hope you will trust me that the right corn chips are transformed in this recipe.

Black Bean TostadasSome brands of corn chips work better than others in this recipe — they have to mesh with the sauce in just the right way, and some brands do that better than others. I like Guiltless Gourmet blue or white corn chips, but the last time I checked, Guiltless Gourmet could not guarantee that their chips were gluten-free, so I don’t buy that brand anymore. Whole Foods white corn chips are good in this recipe too.

Tip: At our house, we don’t always have fresh orange juice on hand, but we keep some frozen concentrate in the freezer. For this recipe, I mix up a micro-batch of orange juice from concentrate, just enough to use in this recipe: six tablespoons of concentrate plus one cup and two tablespoons of water makes exactly the amount of orange juice needed for this recipe.

Black Bean Tostadas
 
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Black beans and orange juice taste surprisingly good together. In this recipe they are served on top of crushed corn chips, with avocado, lettuce, and other toppings.
Author:
Recipe type: dinner
Cuisine: vaguely Mexican
Serves: serves 6
Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 cups orange juice
  • 3 cans of black beans (4 1/2 cups, cooked), rinsed
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin seeds
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander seeds
  • EITHER 2 tomatoes, chopped, or 2 red or yellow bell peppers, chopped
  • corn chips (blue ones are good here)
  • 2 ripe avocadoes
  • shredded lettuce
  • optional: grated cheddar or Monterrey Jack or mozzarella cheese
  • optional: unsweetened yogurt or sour cream
  • salsa
Instructions
  1. Put the beans and orange juice in a pot over medium heat.
  2. Add the oil, cumin, coriander, and tomatoes or bell peppers, and stir.
  3. While the beans warm up, wash the lettuce.
  4. Mash the avocadoes into a very simple one-ingredient guacamole.
To serve:
  1. Put two handfuls of corn chips on a plate. Crush the corn chips with your hands, into pieces about an inch wide or smaller.
  2. Put a big scoop or two of the bean mixture on top, taking care to get the corn chips wet.
  3. Add lettuce, salsa, guacamole and other toppings.
  4. Serve!