I lived in Israel for a short time before college where I first became a vegetarian and learned to love falafel there.
Over the years I stopped ordering them as the sandwhich — touted to be “healthy” — is really rather heavy and caloric. Between frying the high carb garbanzo patties (and one doesn’t know usually what kind of oil is being used for frying) glutinous pita bread and high fat creamy sauces, a falafel might be vegetarian fare, but not something I’d call particularly nutritious.
Almond Sesame Patties
My falafel balls are made with soaked raw almonds and sesame seeds, seasoned with cumin, coriander, fresh parsley, cilantro, lemon juice, garlic and a few other items. They taste surprisingly just like the greasy chickpea patties but without the extra fat and the sometimes difficult digestibility.
Baking option if you don’t own a dehydrator
They are dried in the dehydrator long enough to give them a kind of crust on the outside, remaining somewhat soft on the inside; If you don’t have a dehydrator, just line a baking sheet with parchment paper and bake them for an hour or two at a very low temperature.
Dairy-Free Creamy Tzaziki Sauce
Made with soaked cashews and tahini this version has no yogurt and is completely raw and vegan. Tahini is a sesame paste that makes a creamy base for any number of vegan dishes. Sometimes it’s hard to find raw tahini, which is also rather pricey. You can find roasted tahini in most grocery stores but if you want to stick with raw, try blending a few tablespoons of raw white sesame seeds in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil until it becomes like a paste.
Tzaziki can be used in a variety of ways — even as a condiment for meat and fish in paleo lifestyles.
Falafel with Tzaziki Tahini
2 cups raw almonds (soaked 8-12 hours)
1/3 cup sesame seeds
1/3 cup lemon juice
¼ cup olive or grapeseed oil
1 ½ tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. ground coriander
2 cloves garlic
¼ cup parsley, chopped
¼ cup cilantro, chopped
¼ cup water
Sea Salt to taste
Collard Leaves for Wraps
Directions: Drain and rinse the soaked almonds. Mix all ingredients in food processor for a minute or two, adding salt to your taste (you can leave the batter slightly chunky) and form into oblong balls, flattened at the bottom. Place on parchment paper covered dehydrator screen and dehydrate for 2-3 hours at 115 degrees. Transfer to screens and dry for another hour or two – don’t let them get too dry — they should be moist inside.
Tzaziki Tahini Sauce
2 cups cashews, soaked about 2 hours
1 cup water
2 TB. tahini
1 cucumber, peeled and chopped (retain a few large pieces for stuffing the wraps)
3 TB. fresh dill
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp. sea salt
2 TB. olive oil
2-3 TB. lemon juice or apple cider vinegar
Pepper to taste
Directions: Put all the ingredients except cucumber and dill in blender and mix until smooth. Add the dill and pulse lightly. Pour into bowl and add chopped cucumber. You can garnish with another sprig of dill if you are serving to guests.
Assembly: See the video below on how to create 2 wraps from each washed/dried collard leaf. Taking one wrap, lay it horizontally on the cutting board and spread with tzaziki sauce side to side and reaching to about 2/3 of the way up the wrap. Place 2-3 falafel patties along, pressing them in slightly. Now turn the wrap vertically and lay the additional veggies along horizontally. Starting from the bottom roll upwards, squeezing slightly to keep it tight. Serve either full size or cut on diagonal (see photo at top of page) Serve with extra sauce for dipping. You can also use hummus as the base and just save the tzaziki for dipping.
Veggie Stuffing: Shredded carrots, kohlrabi, jicama, cucumber spears, green onions or red onions cut very thinly, chopped broccoli, shredded beets, mushrooms, radieshes or any veggies that you love
Serve with more tzaziki tahini sauce on the side
You can also make these Raw Fusion Style for kids or anyone who does not like collard greens by substituting with either nori sheets, romaine lettuce or even pita bread or wraps. If you can find gluten-free and/or sprouted wraps, even better!