By Cassie Johnston
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Even if you don’t grow a garden yourself, you can pretty much always guarantee some surprise produce from co-workers, friends, family, neighbors, and even strangers during the summer in Indiana.
As a gardener, there is always some point where you can’t even think about eating another spear of asparagus/cherry tomato/zucchini, and you start to give away the rest of the crop to every single person you see. There is even a whole holiday dedicated to sneaking extra zucchinis onto your neighbor’s porch.
These Falafel Lettuce Wraps were born from donated produce. Back when I worked in an office, it was pretty common to walk into our office kitchen on any given day during summer and see a pile of tomatoes, squash, and cucumbers with a big “TAKE ME!” sign hanging over them. That’s Midwestern generosity for you.
Okay, and maybe it’s a little bit of Midwestern pawning off, too.
During one particularly sweltering summer day, I walked into the office kitchen and saw a pile of beautiful Bibb lettuce, cucumbers, and tomatoes, and I immediately knew what I was going to make—some sort of lettuce wrap! I started thinking about all the foods we traditionally wrap in carb-heavy bread-y things—burritos, tacos, gyros, falafel. Wait! Falafel! Perfect.
Standard falafel balls (or patties) are a flavored chickpea mixture that is deep-fried to a crunchy golden brown exterior, while the inside stays soft and fluffy. It’s pretty incredible. To make it simpler and easier to make at home, I bake my falafel instead of deep-frying. Baking doesn’t give you the exact same texture as frying (does it ever?), but it’s a pretty close approximation. You get the same crispy outside and same pillowy-soft inside.
And by serving the falafel patties with fresh cucumbers and tomatoes on a bed of fresh lettuce, you’re getting a nice chunk of veggies in each bite. To up the flavor ante a bit, I made a very simple tahini sauce to drizzle on top. It also makes an excellent dipping sauce for…pretty much anything.
You can serve these for dinner, but they really shine as a meal prep office lunch! You can heat up your falafel patties or eat them room temperature. Just make sure to cool your patties completely before assembling your boxes (hot food + lettuce = Soggy City). And keep your sauce on the side—I love these leak proof dipping sauce containers. They nest perfectly into these these MealPrep 2-Compartment Glass Containers, which I use for all kinds of meal prep goodness! Enjoy.
These Meal Prep Baked Falafel Lettuce Wraps are chock-full of veggies, and travel well for packed lunches. No more sad desk salads for you!
Keywords: entrees, lunch, meal prep, falafel, vegetarian
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Actually, deep frying isn’t as bad as people think it is. Of course, it depends on what you are frying to begin with. If you’re deep drying a candy bar, then the original ingredient is unhealthy to begin with, but deep frying something like falafel wouldn’t cancel out the healthfulness of the ingredients within falafel. As long as the oil is hot enough, not much fat will be absorbed. Also, if you drain them on a paper towel and dab the top to remove excess grease, then it makes it even lower in fat.
TL;DR Deep frying is often thought of as the worst way to prepare food, but it’s not always the case. If you use the right ingredients and the right oil heated to the proper temperature, then it aint no thing.
Having said all that, I prefer to pan fry my falafel because it gives the golden crispiness that I love without the mess of deep frying.
Oh yum! Outstanding! Thanks for the recipe!
I love this idea!! Falafels are fabulous and I like that this is a baked version.
Yummy! Love falafels! Your tahini sauce sounds delicious, I’ve never done anything like that, I usually have falafel with tzatziki, but I’m going to try your sauce next – it sounds great :)
yess!! these look so good. I love falafel :D
and I love when people give me food from their garden! how nice of your friend Mary.
I was drooling over your bento with the falafel patties on Instagram! One of my co-workers used to bring in all different kinds of tomatoes and potatoes from her garden every Monday morning. Oh man, it was awesome. It was just her and her hubby, so they had way more than they needed (and he was obsessed with growing like 10 different varieties of each. She taught me that the uglier the tomato, the better it tastes! :)
I attempted creating a baked falafel recipe, but mine was kind of a fail. I can’t wait to make this recipe! Your photos are great, too!
my lettuce looks so pretty! happy it got eaten instead of mulch-ified.
I cooked this tonight, and it was yummy! Thanks for sharing!
I’ve just cooked this and it was really, really good and I have lunch for tomorrow too! Thank you…
These look phenomenal. I’m really into the idea of falafel lately, but haven’t actually ever tried it! I’m set to go to Morocco in 2 weeks but am not keen at all on the potential of FRIED falafel. Yours look so fresh and healthy! You’re lucky you got all that free lettuce. I sometimes take some things from my local community garden, but usually I’ve got to pay. The local market here does veg boxes for £1 when they are about to go off which is nice.
These look so yummy! I love the falafel I’ve tried in Mediterranean restaurants and am excited to try to make a baked version at home.
One question, though. The ingredients list says 1 tsp of baking POWDER and in Step 3 of the instructions it says baking SODA. Which one is correct?
I just made this from your cookbook. It’s great, but FYI one part says baking powder and the other says baking soda. Mine turned out fine with baking powder, but might want to correct it!
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