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Recipe: Red Lentil Falafel Bowl

Recipe: Red Lentil Falafel Bowl

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Growing up, I occasionally ate falafel, but it wasn’t until I travelled to the Middle East and saw how deeply the food is ingrained in life there that it took on a whole new meaning for me. When Ben Hamrah and I opened Beet Box, I made sure falafel was on the menu – basically, I knew I wanted to eat it multiple times a week, and I hoped customers would, too. Traditionally made with ground chickpeas, fava beans or both, and served in a pita, the recipe for falafel lends itself to experimentation. Here, I apply the concept to a different legume – the red lentil – and serve it in a bowl with seasonal vegetables and herbs. The preparation is quicker, and the flavors are unforgettable.

Red Lentil Falafel Bowl

Serves | 4 |

Red Lentil Falafel

  • 2 cups red lentils
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 small red onion
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 1 cup fresh parsley
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro
  • ¼ cup chickpea flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • frying oil, as needed

Bowl

  • 2 cups cooked bulgur
  • 3 Persian cucumbers, sliced
  • ½ cup Kalamata olives, pitted
  • ½ cup sliced red onion
  • 1 cup crumbled feta
  • 2 turnips, sliced
  • 1 cup mustard greens or arugula
  • 1 cup pickled beets
  • 1 blood orange, peeled and sliced into wheels
  • ¼ cup freshly chopped dill
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp red wine vinegar

Dressing

  • ½ cup sour cream
  • ½ cup thick Greek yogurt
  • 2 cloves garlic, grated
  • 2 Tbsp tahini
  • 1 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • ½ tsp honey
  • ½ tsp sumac
  • salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

| Preparation – Red Lentil Falafel | Add lentils and water to a bowl; soak for 1 to 1½ hours. While lentils are soaking, prepare bowls and dressing (recipes follow).

In a food processor, add onion, carrot, garlic, parsley and cilantro; pulse until finely chopped, and then transfer to a bowl. Drain soaked lentils; transfer to food processor, and pulse until finely chopped. Add processed lentils to bowl with onion-carrot mixture; add remaining ingredients (except frying oil) and toss to combine. Let rest for 10 minutes.

In a medium saucepan, heat 4 inches of oil (canola, soybean, vegetable – any oil for frying) to 350 degrees. Once oil is hot, gently form falafel into torpedo shapes, and place in oil, four at a time; cook for 4 to 5 minutes. Using a skimmer, remove fried falafel from pan, and place on a paper towel-lined plate. Repeat process until all falafel is cooked.

| Preparation – Bowl | Evenly divide all ingredients, except oil and vinegar, between four bowls.

| Preparation – Dressing | In a bowl, combine all ingredients. Set in refrigerator until ready for use.

| Assembly | Divide falafel between assembled bowls; drizzle with dressing, olive oil and red wine vinegar. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Amanda Elliott is the chef at Peachtree Catering (peachtreebanquet.com) in Columbia, Missouri, and authors the website Rustic Supper (rusticsupper.com), where she shares recipes centering on the idea of the communal table and embracing the heritage of food through travel. She also hosts a series of pop-up dinners in Columbia called Sunday Suppers.

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