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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


  • 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


  • 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 ( in Columbia, Missouri, and authors the website Rustic Supper (, 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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