I remember the first time I had falafel and thinking what odd flavors of ingredients am I eating? I was in my teens so my palette hadn’t quite developed yet even thought I was already in the restaurant industry. I never attempted to make falafel for some years later and when I did it I was blown away at how easy it was to make and how simple the ingredients were. While making it I immediately remembered when I ate it for the first time several years prior and thinking why on earth did I think it was something crazy. Falafel is chickpeas with a lot of parsley and a few other things, what’s so crazy about that? I actually felt the same way about hummus for some reason. Guess I’m a late bloomer to Middle-Eastern cuisine and only I’m to blame for missing out on all the glorious food.
In the spirit of constantly changing things up I wanted to try and make flafel with lentils instead of chickpeas. I love chickpeas, but dang do I love lentils too and thought it could provide a really cool flavor. For the lentils I looked no further than Bob’s Red Mill Organic Brown Lentils. Since lentils can be cooked right away without soaking I figured I could knock this recipe out in no time, and I did! lentils have been around forever and have such a delicious earthy flavor that the other ingredient combos I added into this falafel sandwich would be a perfect fit! The first thing you need to do is cool the lentils which is a simple 3 to 1 water to lentils ratio. Once you are finished cooking the lentils strain off any excess water and chill slightly. The only reason I think you should chill them is because you don’t want them to be smoking hot while processing them letting pressure build up possibly resulting in a falafel explosion. Just google hot liquids in a blender :-).
I used really simple ingredients into this falafel recipe to help bring for those delicious lentils. I added in some roasted garlic, parsley, cilantro, cumin, lemon juice, and salt and pepper. Yup, that’s it! You want to process them until they are smooth which honestly won’t be an issue since the lentils are soft. Next transfer the mixture to a bowl and add in about a ½ cup of flour just to help bind it together and roll them into balls without being super stick. I think you could substitute a gluten free flour as well to change this recipe to be gluten free. Once you roll out the balls you then fry them in a bit of oil just until browned on all sides, and from there they’re baked in the oven. In total it takes about 90 minutes from cooking the lentils to the finished falafel product. Not-too-bad for something this delicious.
To enhance the flavors of the lentil falafel I made a really simple yogurt sauce and a cucumber salsa. Both are ridiculously easy to make and really provide some amazing tastes that I know you will love. I wanted to change up the traditional tzatziki or tahini garlic sauces with these two. The yogurt sauce consists of Greek yogurt and milk harissa, that’s it. It has a creamy slightly spicy taste that is so dang good and is tamed and complimented with the cucumber salsa. Think of a salsa and then replace the tomatoes, that’s just about it. Sure I used a rice wine vinegar and didn’t add in jalapeños but the premise is the same.
The last few things I did to finish off this recipe was that I served it with baby spinach, sliced tomatoes and on a huge piece of pita. If you want to change these ingredients up, or simply want to use whatever you have in the house, you can use arugula lettuce, roasted peppers instead of tomatoes and naan bread instead of pita. Not huge changes but changes that would add lots of delicious flavor. Well that’s all I got for now in this delicious Easy Falafel Sandwich Recipe with Lentils and Cucumber Salsa, until next time! Happy Cooking!
Easy Falafel Sandwich Recipe with Lentils and Cucumber Salsa
For the falafel:
- 3 cups of cooked and chilled Bob’s Red Mill Organic Brown Lentils
- 1 bulb of roasted garlic cloves
- 1 cup of parsley leaves
- ½ cup of cilantro leaves
- 1 tablespoon of cumin
- juice of 1 lemon
- ½ cup of Bob’s Red Mill All-Purpose Flour
- ½ cup of sunflower oil
- 4 large pita shells
- 1 cup of packed baby spinach
- 1 cup of sliced assorted tomatoes
- Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste
For the Sauces:
- 1 cup of Greek yogurt
- ¼ cup of mild harissa
- 1 seeded and small diced cucumber
- ¼ peeled and small diced red onion
- ¼ teaspoon of red pepper flakes
- ¼ cup of chopped fresh cilantro
- 1 tablespoon of chopped fresh dill
- ½ teaspoon of sugar
- 2 tablespoons of rice wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste
Preheat the oven 375°.
Falafel: Add the cooked lentils, garlic, parsley, cilantro, cumin, lemon juice and salt and pepper to a food processor and process on high speed until smooth.
Next fold in the flour and roll into individual balls until all of the batter is used up. You will have around 20.
Next heat the sunflower oil in a large saute pan over medium heat and cook the lentil falafel on all sides until golden brown and then transfer them to a sheet tray lined with parchment paper.
Bake in the oven at 375° for 20 to 25 minutes or until cooked through out. Set aside.
Sauces: Whisk together the yogurt and harissa until completely combined and keep cool before serving.
In a medium bowl mix together the cucumber, red onion, pepper flakes, cilantro, dill, sugar, vinegar, olive oil and salt and pepper and keep cool before serving.
To Plate: Spread the yogurt on the bottom of a pita bread and add some spinach and tomatoes to it as well. Top off with a few fried falafel balls and cucumber salsa.