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Faux-lafel (Paleo Falafel)

Updated: Jan 17, 2023

A paleo take on a Middle Eastern Classic.

Paleo crepes

For the printable recipe click here.

Monster Padre and I love us some Mediterranean cuisine–so much so, in fact, that a restaurant of that very name catered our wedding. While many of our favorite Greek and Middle Eastern flavors translate easily to a paleo lifestyle, chickpea-based falafel remained in that off-roading category–until now.

Replacing the chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans) with some other favorite ingredients of the region–walnuts and pistachios–we were able to create faux-lafel with delightfully crunchy exteriors and all the flavors of the original.

We added cashews for their mild texture and flavor, a little cumin for complexity, and of course a bunch of garden-fresh parsley for that signature falafel-y color and freshness.

I like to fry in refined coconut oil because, for a paleo-approved oil, it’s a little on the cheaper side, and unlike virgin coconut oil, it has a relatively high smoke point and won’t impart a strong coconut flavor.

Now, it may be worth mentioning that nuts, like those found in this recipe, do contain phytates--those pesky antinutrients we paleo peeps try to avoid. Phytates are one of the reasons we avoid legumes. . . like chickpeas. The idea is that legumes and grains, as dietary staples, are typically eaten in such large quantities that the phytates are a concern. Nuts, on the other hand, are typically not the bulk of one's diet, and thus less of a concern. So if we are replacing legumes with nuts, is this switcharoo truly beneficial? Probably not from a phytate standpoint. If you are looking to cut carbs, the walnuts in this recipe are lower in carbs than chickpeas, while the cashews and pistachios are pretty comparable to the garbanzos. Bottom line: the nutritional superiority of this recipe is debatable, but for anyone striving to remain strictly paleo, this is one tasty way to do it!

These faux-lafel store well in the fridge for a few days and are just as yummy served cold as they are fresh out of the fryer. The monsters actually prefer them this way!

Serve these tasty Middle-Eastern-inspired morsels atop a green salad, on a bed of cauli rice, on their own, or with a yummy dip like muhammara or baba ganoush.

Here's what you'll need:

  • 2 cups walnuts

  • 1 cup cashews

  • ⅓ cup pistachios

  • 1 cup (tightly packed) fresh parsley

  • 2 tsp kosher salt

  • 20 cranks black pepper

  • ½ tsp garlic

  • ½ tsp ground cumin

  • ¼ tsp ground cinnamon

  • 1 tsp baking powder

  • 1 egg

  • Oil for frying (I use refined coconut oil)

Here's what you'll do:

  1. Place the walnuts in the food processor and process just until finely ground–do not over-process, which could result in nut butter! Transfer ground walnuts to a small bowl, and set aside.

  2. Add cashews and pistachios to the food processor and process just until almost finely ground. Add remaining ingredients (parsley-egg), and process till parsley is finely chopped. Add walnuts back to processor and pulse to combine, pausing to scrape down sides as necessary.

  3. On the stovetop, heat enough oil to come at least ½ inch up the sides of a skillet or dutch oven to 350 degrees F., and line a cooling rack with paper towels.

  4. Use a small cookie scoop to form balls of the faux-lafel mixture. Roll the balls between your hands if desired, then fry in batches for about 2 min on each side.

  5. Using a slotted spoon, transfer faux-lafel to the prepared cooling rack. Repeat with remaining balls. Store in an airtight container in the fridge. Leftovers can be enjoyed straight from the fridge–this is the monsters’ favorite!

For the printable recipe click here.


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Hey Y'all!

I'm the Monster Momma.

I'm a Christ-follower, wife, mother to five sweet paleo monsters, writer, and

paleo food fiend.

Join me and my family on our paleo journey!

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