I should probably admit upfront, these err a tad more on the side of fritters than falafel. But I hate a dry, dense ball of falafel, so in my mind, the characteristics of these are what the word “falafel” should always mean.
Falafel should be as moist as the fresh chickpeas you put into it. It should mean a circular or ovular sphere flavorful enough to snack on as it is, even if a little bit of yogurt sauce or hummus elevates it to a whole other level. I.e., a truly good falafel should be the shining star in the pita you pack it in, radiating brighter than all else that lays beside it.
It’s simply impossible to deny how beautiful of a veggie swiss chard is. I’ve expressed before my love of pinks when it comes to produce, and the photographing of it. Beets and radishes, while not necessarily my favorite flavors of the veggie kingdom, stand among my all-time most beloved subjects to photograph. (Apologies in advance to my friend Laura. And my 90-year-old grandpa. And the random boys in my life. All of which are other favorite photo subjects in my life – but I’m telling you, beets and radishes make for some steadfast competition.)
The magenta lines that stream down a leaf of swiss chard, the veins not unlike our own that bring this veggie to life, make it a mesmerizing sight. Its yellow veins, too. Although if I had to choose, I’d of course go for the pink. There’s just something about those pinks when you get them in front of a camera. Born to be (still life) models, I tell you.
I’ve been in a bit of a cooking rut lately. Breakfast for dinner has been popping up more often than I’d like, as is thrown together bowls of beans, rice, herbs, and avocado. (Although – if that avocado is a magically flawless and ripe specimen, forget the hesitancy and tone of complaint emanating from that last sentence. Hand me a ripe avocado, and I’ll be a happy kid forever.)
I never thought I’d be one to say this, but busyness has led me to allow cooking to fall by the side of the road for a few. Plus, it’s summer, and I enjoy nothing more than eating outside. And if this means scoping out all the restaurants with outdoor seating, then so be it. Cooking can be put on pause for a few.
However, you know as well as I do, I do love cooking. And so I return, by the sight of a healthy looking bunch of swiss chard.
I picked this bunch of from the store and immediately had ideas start to come to me from left and right. There’s nothing like a little ingredient inspiration to draw you out of a slight cooking hiatus.
It’d been forever since I made falafel, so that’s the idea I went with. Don’t ask me how swiss chard led my brain to falafel – but it worked out well. I mean, why not add some green power to falafel? Tastes great, looks decent, and kills it on the “you should really make this meal more nutritious” level.
Swiss chard’s back in style. Every farmers’ market table will be wearing it pretty soon. Get some while you can. Admire it’s beauty for a day. Or 15 minutes on your cutting board. Then chop it all and throw it into this falafel recipe.
These are definitely snackable on their own, but I love the pairing with the yogurt/herb sauce. You choose whether to pack them in a pita, or throw them with some brown rice. Either one you go with, drizzle a little tahini on top, and voila. A truly golden, slightly green meal.
- 4 tightly packed cups swiss chard leaves, stems included
- 1 (15.5 oz.) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
- 4 cloves garlic
- 2 Tbsp. sesame tahini, plus more to drizzle later
- 2.5 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
- 2 tsp. cumin
- 3/4 tsp. salt, plus more for yogurt sauce
- 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
- ~1/2 cup chickpea flour
- Safflower oil
- 1 1/2 cups plain yogurt
- 1/2 cup parsley, chopped
- 1 cup tomatoes, chopped (optional)
- Brown Rice or Pita
- Add garlic to a food processor and pulse. Add swiss chard stems, and pulse with garlic until processed. Toss in greens, chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice, cumin, salt and pepper, and puree until combined. Add chickpea flour and pulse until incorporated.
- Mixture should be thicker than pancake batter, but not quite thick enough to mold with your hands. If too thin, add another Tbsp. or two of chickpea flour.
- Heat a large skillet (I used non-stick) over medium-high heat and add 2 Tbsp. of oil at a time to coat pan. Then reduce heat to medium.
- Use a large spoon to add large circular dollops of the batter to the pan (about 3 Tbsp. each). Try not to overcrowd the pan.
- Cook until a dark golden brown is formed on the bottom side, then flip. Once flipped, lightly flatten each falafel with a spatula. Cook remaining side until browned, about 4 minutes. Place on a plate lined with paper towels. In batches, repeat with the remaining batter.
- Whisk yogurt with parsley, and season with a few dashes of salt. Drizzle either pita or brown rice with a spoonful of tahini. Place 3 falafel on top. Spoon yogurt sauce over top, and tomatoes, if using. Serve.