Crispy Baked Falafel

Welcome to the first ever food memory post with memories other than mine woooooo! (I am accepting food memory submissions to share on memo2munch that will inspire the recipes. Click here for info on submitting.)

Today’s memory takes place in Vienna, Austria and comes from one of my most precious friends, my roommate Tori. You may know her from triumphs such as her handmade prop in this post, and as my supplier of authentic chai spices direct from India, in this recipe.

Crispy Baked Falafel | memo2munch

As the chai spices may have indicated, Tori is an impressive traveler. We both studied abroad in Europe last semester (I was in Bologna, and she was in Rouen, France, a small town about an hour outside of Paris), but when I say Tori studied abroad I mean she, like, S T U D I E D  A B R O A D.

“Over the course of that half-year, I somehow managed to visit 22 countries in Europe and North Africa, an undertaking that I’m still having trouble wrapping my mind around,” Tori told me. YOU GO GIRL.

Crispy Baked Falafel | memo2munch

In March, we had a reunion of epic proportions in Rome, somehow managing to swing a weekend together with our other roommate who was studying in Germany, plus two of our close friends who were in the midst of a Eurotrip of their own.

It was like some wonderful, strange, sitcom mashup of The Lizzie McGuire Movie and Roman Holiday. But I digress.

Crispy Baked Falafel | memo2munch

Roman reunions aside, Tori did much travelling alone, effectively making her the Planning & Coordination Queen™. Exposure to so many new places and cultures taught her lots of useful skills…

“As a solo traveler, bopping from city to city as much as I did, you pretty quickly learn the ins and outs of European markets.”

Successful Encounters with Feisty European Markets 101:

“Learning how to leisurely browse, avoid eye contact, efficiently make purchases, politely refuse aggressive vendors, and exploit any and every opportunity for a free sample, all at the same time, is a skill acquired only with much patience and practice.”

So here’s a Top Secret Market Trick—->“Find a bulk sweets stand where you have to pay by weight, and ask if you can have two dark chocolate covered almonds.” Tori discovered you can often get them for freeeeee

Crispy Baked Falafel | memo2munch

The food memory Tori shared with me is a perfect example of a European market encounter of the best kind. She was exploring a lively marketplace in Vienna:

“I was on the lookout for grab-and-go lunch to take with me as I walked from the center of the city out to Schönbrunn Palace. Already I had been snacking on some dried mango slices, and scored some free chocolate! Anyway, I stumbled upon a bustling falafel stall offering falafel for just 1€ each! When I asked for just one, the boisterous man behind the counter swiftly scooped up one of the warm, crispy delicacies, dipped it in a fresh batch of hummus, and extended his arm towards me in a single swooping motion.

‘“For you,” he said, and when I held up a euro coin he shook his head and smiled. Surprised and delighted, I expressed my genuine thanks and continued on my way, biting into perhaps the best falafel I’d ever tasted (until earlier this week that is). In the end, I went back to the same stand to order a falafel pita for my walking lunch, and enjoyed every chickpea/cucumber/lettuce/tomato/cabbage/hummus/tzatziki-filled bite.”

The very pita and its glorious falafel:

Crispy Baked Falafel | memo2munch

Ahhhhhh I want to be there, don’t you?! How about this, we tuck into some of our own homemade falafel and google pictures of strudel while Mozart plays in the background. Done.

(Also I didn’t even bribe her to subtly compliment my falafel, ain’t she the sweetest?)

Crispy Baked Falafel | memo2munch

Crispy Baked Falafel
(adapted from Mark Bittman)
Makes: about 21 falafel

Ingredients

1 ¾ cups DRIED chickpeas (they will need to soak for minimum 12 hours, so plan ahead)
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1 Tbsp. ground cumin
Scant tsp cayenne, or to taste
1 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 tsp. salt, more as needed
½ tsp. black pepper, more as needed
½ tsp. baking soda
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
4 Tbsp. olive oil
To serve:
Chopped cucumber and tomatoes
Hummus
Pita

Method

1. The night before: thoroughly rinse the chickpeas in a strainer and then place them in a large bowl (they will triple in size as they soak). Pour water over the chickpeas until they are covered by 3-4 inches of water. Let soak overnight, or for up to 24 hours.

2. The next day, discard the soaking water and rinse the chickpeas thoroughly with new water. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F/190 degrees C and line a large baking sheet with foil.

3. Place the chickpeas in the body of a food processor along with all of the remaining ingredients except the oil. Pulse until everything is minced but not pureed. Scrape down the sides as necessary. Add a bit of water if the machine is having a lot of trouble. Taste and adjust the seasoning.

4. Grease the lined baking sheet with 2 Tbsp. of the oil. Roll the chickpea mixture into balls about 1.5 inches in diameter and place them evenly on the sheet. Gently press the tops of each to form thick patties. Brush with the remaining 2 Tbsp. oil. Bake 10-15 minutes on each side until golden all over.

5. To serve, spread each pita generously with hummus. Top with 2-3 falafel and the chopped cucumber and tomatoes. Fold and enjoy!

Spicy Roasted Chickpea Pita

Have we talked about how awesome chickpeas are?

Cuz if not then I think we need to address that at this point in our friendship.

Spicy Chickpea Pita Sandwiches | memo2munch

I mean, what’s not to love? They’re versatile and packed with protein. They make salads next level. You can puree them into hummus. Or fry them into falafel. Or, as I have now discovered, roast them to spicy perfection?!?!?

I’m a fan. Are you a fan? Is that the underlying reason why we get along?

Spicy Chickpea Pita Sandwich | memo2munch

Actually, I’m eating chickpeas while I write this, in their hummus form! But back to that whole ~spicy perfection~ thing.

I used about the same spice blend as in my shakshuka recipe to create a similarly satisfying flavor in a (pita) setting that’s a bit more summer-y. Pop the spiced chickpeas in the oven for less than half an hour, and all that’s left to do is assemble your sandwich!

Spicy Chickpea Pita Sandwich | memo2munch

It’s literally the easiest thing ever, and if chickpeas weren’t so delicious in falafel form I would be kicking myself for not having roasted them and stuffed them into pita before.

Instead I’m kicking myself for not having left the house at all today. Ugh, it’s really so unfortunate to be this lazy. I keep getting phone calls from unknown numbers, too. I haven’t answered for fear that they’ll lecture me about the beautiful weather I’m missing out on or something equally as bad like which candidate I should vote for.

Spicy Chickpea Pita Sandwich | memo2munch

Anywho, I’m going to end this here and get out in the open air! Promise.

PS you should make this for dinner. Promise?

Spicy Chickpea Pita Sandwich | memo2munch

Spicy Chickpea Pita Sandwich
(Adapted from Minimalist Baker)
Serves: 3-4

Ingredients

Chickpeas:
1 15-ounce (425g) can chickpeas, rinsed, drained, and gently patted dry
1 tbsp. oil
1 tsp. each ground cumin and garlic powder
½ tsp. each sea salt, black pepper, and paprika
¼ tsp. ground red pepper/cayenne (optional)

To serve:
Pita (or gf bread if needed)
Hummus
Diced tomato
Sliced red onion
Romaine lettuce, chopped,
Tahini (optional)

Method

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F/200 degrees C and line a large baking sheet with foil.

2. Mix the spices together in a small bowl. Place rinsed and dried chickpeas in a mixing bowl and toss with the oil to coat. Sprinkle the spice mixture over the chickpeas and stir until the chickpeas are evenly coated. Spread in a single, spacious layer on the baking sheet. Bake for 25 minutes, or until crispy and golden brown.

3. To serve, warm the pitas in a microwave for 15-30 seconds or in the still-warm oven. Spread a generous amount of hummus in the center of each pita and top with chickpeas, tomato, lettuce, onion, and tahini if desired. Fold and enjoy!