Chickpea Falafel and Pita Wrap

More vegetarian/vegan dinner inspiration, courtesy of the Levant

It's pretty understandable that nearly 10? months into a pandemic and we're hitting a bit of a cooking slump. Well, to be honest kind of an everything slump-- it has been a tremendously difficult year, for a multitude of reasons. Keeping this fact in mind, I'm pulling on all of the things that I love to lift my spirit and hopefully that of others.



For one, watching all of the horrendously dumb and yet all too irresistible lifetime Christmas movies has been a great source of joy. Add to that Taylor Swift's Evermore album (I'm very basic okay) and some bundled up winter walks and I'm pretty easy to spot (aka the crazy woman dancing down the street with her giant headphones).



To my list of simple joys, I'm adding this falafel and pita situation. As a young girl, my grandparents would come to visit a few times a year and make dolmas, kibbeh, tabouleh, and the aforementioned falafel (my Grandpa was Lebanese). Though he's no longer with us, I've definitely come to love Lebanese and Levantine food over the years.



Considering this fact, I also wanted to share a bit of background history on the dish, given its varied (and at times controversial) history. Though highly contested, Falafel is believed to have originated in Alexandria, Egypt sometime around the late 19th century. Originally made with fava beans, a widely grown crop at the time, Falafel quickly gained popularity and spread throughout different parts of the country. From there, it is believed that it spread to what is now present day Lebanon around the end of WWI as well as Yemen, Turkey, Libya, Palestine, and what is now Israel. Falafel was adapted to utilize the native crops of whatever region it was introduced to, explaining the use of chickpeas in areas of the Levant and even combinations of beef and beans in other countries. Due to it's widespread popularity, there is some contesting over who lays claim to the dish- notably with Israel, Palestine, Lebanon and Yemen. This speaks to larger notions of national and cultural identity, a topic too lengthy and nuanced to break down in a paper, much less a simple blog post. Nonetheless, I find this intersection between food and peoples particularly of interest, and worth further exploration.

Onto the recipe!


Chickpea Falafel and Pita~



1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1/2 bunch parsley

Zest of a lemon

2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp zatar

1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

1/4 red onion

1/3 cup chickpea flour

2 tbsp tahini

White Bean Spread-

-1 can white beans

-1/4 cup tahini

-1 tsp salt

-1/2 tsp zatar

-1/8 tsp red pepper flakes

-juice and zest of one lemon

-1-2 tablespoons of olive oil, as needed

Quick Pickled Onions-

-1/2 red onion, sliced thinly

-1 cup apple cider vinegar

-1 cup water

-1/4 tsp sugar

-3 pitas (homemade or storebought)

-1 head of kohlrabi, sliced

-1 watermelon radish or bunch of radishes, sliced


Preheat the oven to 425°F. In a food processor, combine the chickpeas, parsley, chickpea flour, red onion, tahini, lemon zest, red pepper flakes, salt, and zatar and blend on medium speed until a rough dough forms. Optionally refrigerate the falafel mixture for 20 minutes, then scoop golf ball sized amounts onto a sheet tray. Brush with a bit of olive oil or neutral oil of choice and place in oven for 20-25 minutes until falafel is golden brown and firm. Set aside. In your relatively clean food processor, combine the white beans, tahini, salt, zatar, red pepper flakes and lemon juice/zest. Blend on a medium high speed, then slowly stream in the olive oil as needed until the consistency of the spread is smooth and relatively fluffy. To quick pickle the onion, pour the vinegar, water, and sugar into a small saucepan set over medium high heat until simmering. Place onions in a glass or metal bowl and pour the vinegar mixture over the top. Let sit at room temperature until the mixture has cooled, then refrigerate until ready to use. To warm pita, place a sauté pan over medium heat until warm (about one to two minutes) and add a pita at a time- cooking each side for about a minute. To assemble, place a dollop of the white bean spread onto the pita, add the falafel, then top with the pickled onions, radish, and kohlrabi. Serve and enjoy!

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