Broccoli Green and Baked Falafel Wrap

Falafels are one of my favorite fast foods. I know it doesn’t seem fast when you look at all the ingredients here, but you’ll be surprised at how quickly it all comes together when most of it is just blitzed in a food processor. Falafels are typically deep-fried balls of goodness, but these are baked to make a more healthful version. In the oven, they turn crisp on the outside, tender on the inside, and lighter than traditional falafels. Stuff them into the sturdy, billowy leaves of a broccoli plant, which are perfect for wrapping. Broccoli greens, which include the large outer leaves of the plant and not just the ones that encircle the head, taste like a milder version of broccoli and give this green wrap a fresh, earthy flavor.
By | April 28, 2015

Instructions

Makes 4 to 6 servings

for the falafels
2 (15-ounce) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/3 cup finely chopped red onion
1⁄3 cup packed fresh parsley with stems
1⁄3 cup packed cilantro with stems
4 garlic cloves
1 egg, beaten
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1½ teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon baking soda

for the salsa
2 cups halved cherry tomatoes
1 cup diced cucumber
1⁄3 cup thinly sliced red onion
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ tablespoon minced garlic
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
1⁄8 teaspoon ground black pepper

for the tahini sauce
½ cup tahini
½ cup water
3 garlic cloves, crushed
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
Juice of 1 lemon
4 to 6 broccoli greens, stems removed

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

To make the falafels, add all the ingredients (except the baking soda) to a food processor and pulse a few times until the mixture is well combined but still crumbly, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Pulse the mixture just enough to reach a coarse, paste-like texture, but not so much that it turns into hummus. Sprinkle the baking soda evenly over the mixture, then stir it in with a fork until incorporated.

Using your hands, roll the mixture into 20 round falafels, about 1½ inches in diameter (the size of a golf ball), and place them on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until the falafels are browned and crispy, turning them over halfway through for even browning on all sides.

While the falafels are baking, make the salsa by combining all the ingredients in a medium bowl and set aside. Then, make the tahini sauce by combining all the ingredients in a small bowl and set that aside.

If your broccoli greens have thick center ribs, use a paring knife to carefully shave down the ribs on the undersides of the leaves. This will make the leaves more pliable and much easier to roll. To assemble the wrap, layer the falafels and salsa down the middle of a broccoli leaf, then drizzle a generous amount of tahini sauce on top. Fold the bottom third of the leaf up, fold each side in, then serve. The falafels can also be made ahead of time, refrigerated, and then reheated or served cold.

About this recipe

Cook’s note: In a falafel, the difference in flavor between cooked (canned) and uncooked (soaked) chickpeas is debatable. The issue really comes down to texture. Dried chickpeas that are soaked overnight, drained well, and left uncooked hold together better when formed into balls or patties. If you prefer to use dried chickpeas, soak about 1 1⁄3 cups to yield the equivalent of two 15-ounce cans. Pulse the uncooked chickpeas in a food processor with the other falafel ingredients as instructed, but omit the egg and flour (which are simply binding agents for canned, cooked chickpeas). 

If you don’t grow or can’t source broccoli greens for wrapping, collard greens are an easy substitute. But if you have cauliflower, cabbage, or Brussels sprouts growing in your garden, these green wraps make excellent use of the underappreciated leaves. You can safely harvest a couple of large outer leaves from the plant each week without affecting the growth of the head.

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