Monday, July 25, 2011

Falafels with Cheater Sauce

Cheap Eat Challenge, Part 2: Watch as our family of 6 eats on $10/day.

Q: Do you know what I love even more than a recipe that gets my husband to eat a vegetable he normally wouldn't touch? 

A: A recipe that is comprised almost entirely of foods he professes to hate (cilantro: check, chick peas: check, onions: check) that he ends up really liking. How is this even possible? I will tell you: it's all in the cheater sauce. My husband loves a good sauce. And this is a very good sauce (which, for the record, still contains an ingredient he professes to hate; yes, I'm confused about it too).

I never even would have tried to feed Kip falafels. Fortunately I didn't have to. Way back on Easter, some friends invited us over for some "Jesus food," which turned out to be falafels. Yum. And there Kip was eating them up, and not just to be polite. The man actually seemed to be enjoying them.

So as soon as I had a good bit of cilantro in the house, I gave them a go myself. I found a fabulous recipe for falafels on allrecipes and I was careful not to forget my friend's falafel sauce. Normally, you use some type of cucumber yogurt sauce on falafels. This is very yummy. However, my friend just whipped up a packet of ranch dressing per the directions and added a handful of finely chopped cilantro. Wow. It is good. It is so good you will be surprised how very good it is. Should I say good again. Okay, I will. Good. So good.

Falafels with Cheater Sauce
adapted from Sean on allrecipes (thanks, Sean, it was awesome)
Makes 9-12 falafels (enough for 2-4 adults)
Prep time: 8 minutes
Cook time: 10-15 minutes
Cost: $1.00, probably $1.50 if you buy fresh herbs
(chick peas: .66, onion: .10, egg: .10, parsely: mine came from the garden: free, cilantro: again from the garden, but it was on sale at Walmart a few weeks ago for .64/bunch: bread crumbs: .05, other stuff: .05)

1 (15 oz.) can chickpeas
1 small onion
1/2 C fresh parsley (you could probably sub 2 Tbsp dried, but you'll loose a bit of the fresh taste)
1/4-1/2 C fresh cilantro (the original recipe called for 1 tsp ground coriander, but I love fresh cilantro)
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 egg
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp salt
1 dash pepper
pinch cayenne pepper
1 tsp baking powder
1 C dry bread crumbs
oil for frying (optional)

Note: I made this in a food processor. It was way easy. I recommend it. If you don't have one, you could use a blender unless your blender is really nice, in which case it will get everything too mushy/thin. If you have to, you can just chop/mash the stuff together.

In food processor, combine onions, parsley, cilantro, olive oil, lemon juice, and garlic. You might have to scrape the edges of the processor a couple times. You want them very finely chopped. Add the chick peas and process till it's mashy (which is a purely scientific term meaning somewhere between smoothy-like and chopped-veggie-like). Add seasonings and baking soda and pulse. Add egg and pulse, scrape the sides and pulse again. Add bread crumbs and pulse. You should have a batter (for lack of a better word--and that is rather what it looks like, only green) that can be rolled or patted into patties. I made 10 or so. I believe they were about 2 inches in diameter.

Heat your oil. I just use enough to create a millimeter or so of oil in a cast iron skillet. Note: Olive oil will smoke. You want some type of vegetable oil (I used canola) or coconut oil. Drop a small tester plop in. It should sizzle in the oil, but not smoke or burn. When your oil is ready, add the patties and cook till golden on each side. Important note: You don't want to flip them until they're good and golden because the more often you flip them, the more likely they will be to fall apart on you. Flip them once, maybe twice and they'll hold just fine.

Put them on a paper towel to drain.

Note: Instead of frying, you can bake these. I did both. Yes, I liked the fried ones better. The fat brought out the flavor and gave them a delightful crispiness. However, the baked were good as well.

To bake: 

Bake the patties at 400 degrees for about 17-18 minutes, flipping them after the first 10 minutes.

And now for the magic.

Cheater Sauce: 

1 packet Ranch dressing mix 
1 C milk
1 C mayo
good handful cilantro leaves (I'm going to say 1/2-1 C leaves)

Whisk Ranch dressing mix, milk, and mayo until combined. 

Chop cilantro until it's really chopped up well. Combine to dressing and whisk.

Serve over falafels. Don't tell your husband the sauce he so adores also contains cilantro.


  1. I have never ha falafels. Sounds yum. How do you think they would be without the onions?

  2. Rebecca--You are my sister and you have met my husband. He eats these. With the onions. The onions get pureed, so there's no onion-y crunch to them, and the flavor is not strong (truth be told, I didn't even notice it, though I wasn't looking and I am not onion averse). You don't eat them and feel you've eaten an onion. That said, I'm sure you could use a sprinkle of onion powder instead and possibly skip them altogether, although it might make them a little more bland.

  3. Speaking of freezing...

    Do you think these would freeze okay, and I could pull them out and maybe reheat them in the oven when I'm desperate for a side dish?

  4. I think they would freeze fabulously, though I haven't tried it. I should. They'd also make a great lunch when you get home way past lunch time starving, like I always do.

    1. I just got back from the Holy Land and am going through falafel withdrawal. I can't wait to make these. Yummy! Thanks for the recipe. I really like your blog, especially the Dutch recipes, because I grew up in NL. :-)

    2. Glad you found the Dutch recipes. I just ran into a woman this morning from Northern Belgium. I haven't spoken Dutch in years and I was a little rusty, but it was fun anyway.



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