Making a Planetarian sandwich can be a challenge. You can’t just pull out packages of deli meat and cheese from the fridge. Yes, we offer Chickpea Chicken (or Tuna) Salad, on our site, but we were looking for more delicious sandwich options. Coincidentally my last trip to Costco, I discovered a tub of cooked falafel in the refrigerated section and bought a package. I whipped up some tzatziki, microwaved a few of the patties, and wrapped them in pitas with chopped iceberg, diced tomatoes, and thinly sliced red onion. All of us around the lunch table agreed how wonderful it was to be eating a delicious sandwich that just happened to be plant-based. The store-bought falafel patties were good enough, but I thought from-scratch falafel could be lighter, brighter, fresher, and more flavorful.
Turns out I was right. With just a mere pound of soaked chickpeas, you can make up to two dozen small falafel patties—enough to make eight to twelve incredible wraps—or eight equally delicious large patties for burgers.
Preparing the Falafel Base
Once the chickpeas have been soaked overnight, the patties come together very quickly. In the food processor, grind to a paste the chickpeas with spices and dump them into a large bowl. Return the unwashed food processor bowl to the machine and finely mince parsley, cilantro, onions and garlic. Mix the two together, along with a little baking powder for lightness and lift, and you’re ready to form and cook patties.
If you’re not ready to form and cook them yet, simply leave out the baking powder and fridge mixture for a few days, stirring in the baking powder when you’re ready to proceed.
Baked or Fried
You can bake or fry all of the falafel patties at one time, but we prefer to halve the unformed mixture, using one portion to make four Falafel Burgers and the remaining portion to make a dozen small patties for Falafel Wraps. (And if you’re not up for sandwiches, make the Grand Falafel Salad, or Falafel with Romesco Sauce.)
You can fry twelve patties in a large skillet (or all of them in two batches). You can also bake the twelve patties on a 13- by 9-inch baking sheet or all twenty-four on an 18- by 12-inch rimmed baking sheet.
Save the Fry Oil
Don’t toss that frying oil! Once it has cooled down, strain out the stray crumbs into a liquid measuring cup, and then pour the strained oil into a jar to reuse for future frying. You can store this oil at room temperature, but it will last longer in the refrigerator. Unlike a lot of fried foods, falafel patties and burgers reheat well in the microwave.
Unlike a lot of fried foods, falafel patties and burgers reheat well in the microwave.
Falafel—Baked or Pan Fried
- 1 pound dry chickpeas
- 1 teaspoon each: ground cumin and coriander
- 1/2 teaspoon each: fine salt, ground allspice, and black pepper
- 1 tightly-packed cup each: parsley and cilantro leaves and tender stems
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1 medium-large onion, cut into large chunks
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 1/2 cups oil (peanut or vegetable) if frying, 1/2 cup if baking all 24 patties
- Soak chickpeas in 6 cups of water and a tablespoon of salt in a 2-quart liquid measuring cup or similar size bowl overnight or up to 24 hours.
- Drain chickpeas and grind them, along with cumin, coriander, salt, allspice, and pepper for a minute or two in the food processor, until it's a fine paste. Return ground chickpeas to their soaking container and unwashed food processor bowl back to the machine and add remaining ingredients, except baking powder, and process until finely minced. Add herb mixture to chickpeas; mix to thoroughly combine. (Can be covered and refrigerated for a couple of days.)
- When ready to fry or bake, mix baking powder into the mixture, then divide it approximately twenty-four scant 1/4 cup portions. Form each portion into 3/4-inch thick compact patties.
To Fry the Patties
- Heat 1 1/2 cups frying oil over strong medium heat in a large (12-inch) skillet until shimmering. Working in 2 batches and adjusting heat as necessary to maintain a steady temperature, fry falafel until crisp and rich brown on one side, about 4 minutes. Turn the patties (we like spring-action tongs) and continue to fry until impressively brown on the remaining side, about 4 minutes longer. Remove to a wire rack set over a similar size pan to drain. Serve with one of the following recipes.
To Bake the Patties
- Adjust oven rack to lower middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees. If baking all 24 patties, pour 1/2 cup of oil onto an 18- by 12-inch rimmed baking sheet (if baking 12 patties, use 1/4 cup of oil and a 13- by 9-inch rimmed baking sheet). Set pan in preheating oven. When ready to bake patties, remove pan from oven and place patties on pan. Bake until golden brown on bottom side, 18 to 20 minutes. Turn patties and continue to bake until golden brown on remaining side, 10 to 12 minutes longer. Serve with one of the following recipes.