Quick falafel starts with canned beans


I have always been a canned bean person. Occasionally, I’ll take the time to cook dried beans, but more often, I cook bean-based meals weeknights when I haven’t thought ahead. And for that, I reach for a can or two. As long as you pick out varieties with relatively low amounts of sodium, you’re not sacrificing anything in terms of nutrition, and you’re gaining lots of time.

Most of the time, canned beans are an easy substitution for dried legumes. However, there is one relatively common recipe where such a swap isn’t always so simple: falafel. Most falafel recipes you find online call for canned or precooked chickpeas, but the really good ones necessitate starting from dried beans. These are soaked before being ground, formed into patties and fried. Try it sometime when you have a few extra hours. It’s magical and worth the time.

To transform canned beans into worthy, non-mushy falafel, you’ve got to do two things: First, take care not to over-grind the chickpeas; pulse carefully in a food processor until they’re ground just enough to hold together. Second, add a little self-rising flour to absorb excess liquid and to provide the bit of lift you’ll be missing when you broil, instead of fry, these patties. An abundance of fresh parsley, garlic and ground cumin rounds out the minimalist ingredients list.

These are relatively fragile falafel, which is why I prefer to broil them. Simply shape the mix into small patties, coat in olive oil, and stick on a foil-lined pan under the hot broiler for 10 to 15 minutes. The foil will deflect enough heat to brown the undersides, so you won’t even need to flip. This hands-off cooking will also allow plenty of time to gather whatever sides and toppings you prefer.


Quick Falafel

Quick Falafel
  • 2 (14-ounce) cans chickpeas, drained
  • 1 cup parsley leaves
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon self-rising flour (see note)
  • Salt
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for coating the falafel
  • For serving: Tahini paste, tahina (see note) and/or store-bought hummus and flatbread or pita
  • Position an oven rack in the second-highest position under the broiler. Heat the broiler to high. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil, shiny side-up.
  • While the broiler heats, combine the chickpeas, parsley, garlic and cumin in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until the chickpeas are mostly ground, but still have visible chunks, and the mixture holds together when pinched, about 15 1-second pulses. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the flour. Season to taste with salt.
  • Form the chickpea mixture into 8 to 10 patties, about 2 inches wide and 1/2- to 1-inch thick. Transfer to the baking sheet and brush both sides generously with oil. Broil until browned, 10 to 15 minutes; there’s no need to flip. Serve with flatbread and tahina or hummus. Serves 4.
  • Note: If you don’t have self-rising flour, you can make your own by whisking together 1 cup all-purpose flour with 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Whole wheat, or any other wheat-based flour (such as pastry or even cake), mixed this way will also work in a pinch. To make tahina, whisk together tahini paste with a few squeezes of lemon juice. Whisk in water until the mixture smooths out and thins, then season with salt and pepper to taste.

Nutritional information

Per serving: 314 calories (percent of calories from fat, 26), 11 grams protein, 48 grams carbohydrates, 9 grams fiber, 9 grams fat (1 gram saturated), no cholesterol, 863 milligrams sodium.


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