Thursday, April 14, 2022

Lentil Carrot Falafel

 

Central Indiana food pantries have seen a dramatic increase in demand over the last few months due to skyrocketing grocery prices, general inflation, and the recent spike in gas prices. Nearly 1 million Hoosiers are food insecure, meaning they don’t have consistent access to nutritious and affordable food, and one in six Indiana residents goes to bed hungry every night.


Each year, FOX59 and CBS4 team up with Midwest Food Bank and Gleaners Food Bank for an initiative called "Pack the Pantries." They are requesting financial donations, rather than food donations, because Gleaners and Midwest can buy in bulk at wholesale prices, which allows them to stretch the dollar much further.

A donation of just $1 provides about 5 meals. A $10 gift provides 50 meals and $25 covers 125 meals. Find out more information about how to donate here.


This lentil carrot falafel recipe is one of two recipes I developed for the Pack the Pantries initiative. I spoke with representatives from Gleaners about which items they have trouble moving off their shelves. Gleaners told me they have an abundance of canned pumpkin, lentils, and frozen carrots because shoppers don’t always know how to prepare these ingredients.

This recipe uses lentils, which are a great source of fiber, folic acid, and potassium. Lentils are high in protein and low in fat, which makes them a healthy and affordable meat substitute. Before starting this recipe, it's important to note that you must soak the lentils first. If you don't sufficiently soften the lentils,  you’ll encounter tough, crunchy pieces in your falafel. Soak the lentils in cold water overnight (8 to 12 hours) or in hot water for about an hour and 30 minutes. You don't want to cook the lentils--that will cause mushy falafel. You still want the lentils to have some texture. Also, it's important that you remove the excess moisture from the lentils before using them in the falafel recipe.


I used a food processor to make this falafel recipe, but I didn't puree the ingredients—I used the pulse function. Like I mentioned earlier, it's important for the falafel to have texture. You can still make falafel if you don't own a food processor. You'll just need to finely chop all the ingredients.

Traditional falafel is fried, but I baked the falafel instead to reduce the calories and fat. I liked this version just as well as the fried version. If you don't have access to a kitchen with an oven, you can use a toaster oven to bake them.

Serve the falafel by itself, with pita bread, or add it to salad. I also recommend adding a sauce like hummus, tahini, or tzatziki.

Lentil Carrot Falafel

Yield: 16 falafel

Time: About 1 hour 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 cup brown or green lentils, soaked for 1 hour 30 minutes in warm water or 8 - 12 hours in cool water
  • 1 small red onion, roughly chopped
  • 3 large carrots or about 1 cup, roughly chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup parsley, leaves and stems
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, leaves and stems
  • 1 Tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 Tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • Oil for coating sheet pan
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Coat baking sheet in oil (I use avocado oil and line my baking sheet with aluminum foil). Set aside.
  2. Pulse lentils, onion, carrots, garlic, parsley, cilantro, cumin, salt, and black pepper in food processor.
  3. Stir in flour and baking powder.
  4. Scoop into golf ball-sized portions and shape into patties.
  5. Bake for 20 minutes, flipping halfway through.
  6. Serve falafel immediately.





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