Middle Eastern food is close cousin to Mediterranean food in terms of health benefits, including low cholesterol, heart health, and diabetes prevention. And as importantly, it is refreshing and delicious.
This is an easy-to-make vegan summer meal that makes for a satisfying and fun dinner with perfect leftovers for home or sac at school or work – so make extra!
For a light meal, serve the tabouli salad and falafels over a bed of lettuce with some fresh olives on the side. For a heartier meal, accompany with hummus and pita bread or gluten-free crackers, grilled summer vegetables, and even a salmon dish.
There is about 30 minutes of prep involved – but the dishes are simple to make and the results are impressive!
For the Quinoa Tabouli
- 1 cup dry quinoa
- 1 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon or lime juice
- 1-2 cloves fresh, crushed garlic
- 3 TBS finely minced red onion
- 1 TBS fresh copped or 1 tsp. dried peppermint leaf
- 1/4 virgin olive oil
- fresh black pepper
- 2 medium tomatoes, diced
- 1 cucumber
- 1 cup freshly chopped parsley
- Rinse quinoa for 2 minutes and combine in a pot with 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then turn heat down to lowest setting and cook covered for 15 minutes. Turn off heat and let stand, covered, for 5 more minutes. Fluff with a fork and set aside.
- Combine lemon juice, garlic, oil, and mint, and mix thoroughly. Add onion, tomato, and cucumber.
- After it has cooled a bit, add seasonings/veggies to quinoa. You can put the bowl in the fridge if you want it to cool thoroughly while you make the falafel .
Serves 4 as a side dish.
For the Baked Falafels
- approximately 4 cups cooked chickpeas (2 BPA-free cans or 2 cups dried chickpeas soaked and then cooked)
- 3 cloves crushed garlic
- 1/2 cup each of scallions and celery (finely minced)
- 2 beaten eggs
- 3 Tbs. tahini
- 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp. tumeric
- 1 1/2 tsp. sea salt
- 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
- dash of black pepper
- Mash the chickpeas well and combine with all of the other ingredients. I commonly use a food processor to get a thorough mix, but you can do this by hand.
- Chill well in the fridge – about 30 minutes
- Preheat oven on Bake to 400 degrees
- With lightly damp hands, form the batter into one-inch diameter balls and place onto a well-oiled baking sheet.
- Bake for around 30 minutes – the balls should look well-formed and slightly brown on top. Don't worry: they will firm up more once they come out of the oven and cool.
Serves 4 with leftovers.
For the Tahini Sauce
- 1 cup tahini
- 1 clove crushed garlic
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
- salt to taste
- dash or two of cayenne pepper
Combine all ingredients and beat well with a whisk, or combine into a blender and it do its thing. Add several TBS water while blending or whisking if you like a thinner sauce.