Red Lentil Falafel Bowl

Red lentil falafel bowl.

Growing up, I occasionally ate falafel, but it wasn’t until I traveled 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

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, 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 and toss to combine. Let rest, 10 minutes.

In a medium saucepan, heat 4 inches of oil (canola, soybean, vegetable – any oil for frying) to 350°F. Once oil is hot, gently form falafel into balls and place in oil, four at a time; cook, 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 – Red Lentil Falafel 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 to use.

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

Amanda Elliott is the chef at Peachtree Catering in Columbia, Missouri, and authors the website rusticsupper.com, where she shares recipes centered on the idea of the communal table and embracing the heritage of food through travel.

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