Delicious and healthy Vegan Falafel Wraps made from scratch in two versions. One classic with parsley, the other with beetroot. Rolled into soft and fluffy Sourdough Naan, surrounded by quick pickled cabbage, tomato cucumber salad, grated carrots, bright green kale, and spinach. All of that goodness topped with a quick and flavourful Orange Thyme Tahini Dressing. One bite and you are hooked.
Why You Want to Make This
Apparently most people think boring and bland when they hear vegan. “Bunny food” I heard, or “I need meat”. To me that was never the case. Vegetables can be prepared in a million ways and have so much flavour, I never get bored with them.
This particular recipe was sparked by my very first Falafel Wrap, which I had at the Yemen pavilion of the Expo 2000 in Hanover, my hometown. There were lots of incredible things to be seen all around that world exhibition, but the one thing that really stayed in my memory was this incredible soft wrap with the sudden crunch, followed by fluffy softness of the wrap and the crispy fried Falafel. They had a creamy and intensely sesame-lemon flavoured Tahini dressing in it. Additionally It was filled generously with a tomato-cucumber salad, contrasting perfectly with the softer textures around it and providing the acidity and freshness the chickpea based Falafel needs to shine.
In short, it was a revelation. Especially to someone who never had Tahini or Chickpeas of any kind before.
I have since eaten and tried many others, but none of them lived up to this very first experience, which I believe hinged on each ingredient being its very best. Until now.
I’m following Yotam Ottolenghi’s fantastic recipe for Falafel from his book “Jerusalem” here roughly. Adding the wrap parts, dressing and beetroot, to make it a meal.
As so often, really good bread can make a dish. So does this.
Can you use ready made wraps? Absolutely. Your Falafel will still be good. But the Sourdough Naan takes it to a level of real enjoyment and a food to be appreciated.
I’ve made many flatbreads over the years to go with all kinds of food, but Sourdough Discard Naan deserves to go with a feast. It’s soft and pillowy, pliable enough to roll whatever you throw at it into and soak up the juices without falling apart. It has a gentle tang from the sourdough discard. Not too much. Just providing this little something in the background, that has you think “This is really good bread!” together with the perfect structure to either dip into all sorts of things from stew to hummus or, as here, be used as vehicle for a delicious filling, while adding flavour and chewiness.
And, being sourdough, it’s better for you than just yeasted Naan breads.
Made from dried and soaked chickpeas, never canned, which makes them a very affordable food, Falafel consists of the ground or processed legume, some onion, garlic, parsley and spices for flavour and flour or chickpea flour to hold them together while frying.
Now, you read frying and wonder “How can that be healthy?”. I know, me too. But if you use the oil at the right temperature, very little of the oil will actually be absorbed, but instead the Falafel forms a crust pretty much instantly. And yes, in theory you could bake them or even air fry, but with either method they will never achieve the perfect crunch outside with the pillowy soft and fluffy inside you want.
Also, one wrap will satisfy you easily until the next meal. And since we are filling it with all kinds of vegetables and legumes, they are pretty decent on the health front.
You get a decent hit of the all important protein from the chickpeas, lots of nutrients and fibre from the veggies, and carbs from the Sourdough discard Naan, which leads to a fairly balanced meal.
As usual, I simply could not decide if I want classic Falafel, where the main added flavour component is parsley and spices or the super pretty, pink beetroot Falafel, adding a gentle earthy sweetness. So obviously I made both.
Considering you only need 1 cooked beetroot for the whole lot, you can use the rest of the package for example in my Beetroot Hummus or quickly marinade them in some balsamic and olive oil, for a lovely side.
Or you can of course decide to just make the standard version.
I’m using my Orange Thyme Tahini Dressing for these Vegan Falafel wraps, as I love the gentle sweetness and orange flavour they add. Just enough lemon juice to add acidity and zing, a little garlic to underline the flavour of the other ingredients, I prefer this to hummus, which is often used in this type of wrap. I always feel it makes them taste dry. This dressing does the opposite. It adds creamy nuttiness from the sesame based Tahini and the fruity orange-lemon notes plus some hints of thyme, reminding of the typical middle eastern spice Za’atar. Which btw you could use instead of fresh Thyme.
While I haven’t mentioned many details above, the veggies are a key component for these Falafel Wraps. The cucumber-tomato salad with lots of fresh parsley provides juiciness and crunch against the chickpea based falafel balls, making them absolutely irresistible.
I’m pretty much always using cherry tomatoes in salads for the flavour they add. Cucumber wise, if Lebanese or local cucumbers are in season, use those for their thinner skin and less watery seeds. Otherwise any cucumber will do. And a big bunch of flat leaf parsley. Don’t be shy with the amount. It acts similar to lettuce in this salad and gives lots of lovely fresh minerality. One onion, in my case red, but you could use any really and some lemon juice, olive oil and salt complete this easy salad.
Super quick pickled cabbage comes together in minutes. You can use red or white. I usually prefer red, but there was none to be found in the supermarkets, when I was shopping for these, so white it was. No need for cooking in this case. All you need is vinegar, salt and sugar.
Grated carrots, while not traditional in the slightest, add even more fibre and vitamins and help keeping you satisfied on an excellent calorie to volume ratio. One of the keys to my weight loss over the last year really: Add more vegetables to anything I make. They also have a lovely sweet crunch, going well with the other ingredients.
Kale, massaged with a hint of olive oil and a tiny bit of salt, to soften it, transform the fibrous cruciferous vegetable into something really pleasant to eat. You’ll want fairly young and tender kale for this. If you don’t like it or can’t find it, use more spinach or any other greens you prefer. Arugula would go well. As would watercress. Or simply some shredded crunchy lettuce.
Fresh baby spinach adds even more green goodness to these wraps, so you get basically 5 a day in one meal. Which is something I really love for my main meal of the day.
As mentioned above, Falafel itself has very few ingredients, which makes it a great pantry dish. Sounds strange, I know. Well, outside the Middle Easten world anyway. You can keep dried chickpeas around for ages and in this case don’t even need to cook them, but only soak overnight, which makes them incredibly easy to prepare. You will need a food processor or meat grinder here, to process them into a kind of coarse mash, to hold together.
Apart from that: Onion, garlic, a bit of flour or chickpea flour, fresh parsley, ground coriander and/or cumin, salt and baking soda are all you need for the basic version.
Add 1 cooked beetroot for the beetroot version. That’s it.
Orange Thyme Tahini Dressing
I go into the details about Tahini, which one to use and why, in the post about the dressing itself, so I’ll spare you the rambling here. If you haven’t read it, it’s certainly worth checking, since the right Tahini plays a key role in so many recipes.
You can make this dressing with just lemon juice and leave out the honey if you prefer. Personally I loved what both orange and honey added to the mix and felt it elevates the Falafel wrap from good to great.
The Sourdough Discard Naan
Considering how versatile it is and the fact that you could use it for the wraps, the upcoming Mezze Feast, as side for stew and of course to serve with curries, the Sourdough Discard Naan got its own post.
This Naan is a fantastic way to use up your discard, while improving the flavour of the bread. If you don’t have sourdough you can either follow this guide to make your own and use in endless recipes or make the Naan simply with yeast and baking soda and powder. Both work well, though you’d be missing out on flavour and all the benefits of the sourdough.
The use of sourdough also makes this great to prepare, as you make the dough the day before and leave it in the fridge to ferment, improving both flavour and texture while you sleep.
All you need for it are Sourdough discard, flour, Greek yoghurt, butter, and a little salt. Yeast and/or the other raising agents can be added to speed up the rising time, depending on how long you have.
Apart from really good quality Tahini and the ready made sourdough, you can probably find everything in your supermarket. Depending on where you live that is of course. In Germany you will even get the sourdough starter. In Ireland, not so much.
Naan – Preparation
If you decided to make your own Sourdough Discard Naan, prepare the dough ideally the day before. If you do so, you can add a little yeast, but won’t need baking soda or powder and the flavour will be better. Even sourdough discard will come very much alive in contact with flour and liquid, given some time. And since these are flatbreads, not a heavy sourdough loaf, you won’t need an active starter. Though if you only have active starter, you can of course use it.
Store the dough in the fridge until you are ready to roll them out and fry. They will take about 4 minutes in the pan each.
I made them while the Falafel was being deep fried. But if you are not keen on multitasking, it’s best to fry the Naan first and keep warm with the trick mentioned in the recipe, while you fry the Falafel, so they are hot and crispy.
The details are in the Sourdough Discard Naan Recipe below. So I’m mainly giving you a timeline here, to make your meal prep easy.
You can prepare the Orange Thyme Tahini Dressing the day before as well. Simply mix the Tahini, Orange and lemon juice, orange zest, honey, balsamic vinegar, minced garlic, thyme, and salt in a little jar until it’s creamy and store it in the fridge. It will keep for about 4 days.
Quick Pickled Cabbage
Another part that is best to prepare the day before, so it has time to soak up the pickling flavours.
Shred the cabbage finely. I’m using a food processor, but you could also use a mandolin or simply a knife. In a bowl, mix together vinegar, salt and sugar until the salt and sugar have dissolved. Pour over the shredded cabbage and give it a good mix, before storing it in a lidded container in the fridge.
Another item that can be prepared the day before. I found greens in particular benefit from a soak in cold water, as they get very perky, even if they were a tiny bit limb before.
Wash both kale and baby spinach thoroughly but keep them separate. Spin dry.
I usually store my greens in a large lidded container that has a grid at the bottom. Paper towels work too, as they keep the leaves fresher. For this recipe, store the washed and dried spinach that way.
The kale gets a little extra care. Remove any tough stems by simply ripping the softer leaves off them. Young kale tends to have smaller leaves, which will be small enough after you took them off the stems. If yours are fairly large, chop them very roughly.
In a large bowl, add 1 tbsp olive oil and ¼ tsp salt to the kale. Massage with your hands, until the fibre has broken down and the leaves are very soft. Store in a lidded container.
You can prepare them the day before as well, but in that case ideally drizzle them with a little lemon juice, to prevent discolouring.
Grate the carrots as coarse or fine as you like. I enjoy them relatively coarse for the crunch. But you do you. Store in a lidded container.
This is best made on the day, as tomatoes in particular can get very watery and flavourless in the fridge. I usually only prepare enough for one day and make it fresh if I’m using the recipe throughout the week for my workday meals. It only takes minutes, so it’s not a particular hardship.
If you want to get ahead, pre-chop the onion and store in a lidded container in the fridge, If you are not a big fan of raw onion flavour, you could marinade it overnight in a little lemon juice and salt, to mellow it.
Chop the cucumber into cubes. About ½ inch or slightly smaller works well. Half or quarter your cherry tomatoes, depending on size, so they roughly match the cucumber pieces.
Strip the leaves off the parsley stems and chop them roughly. You don’t want a mush, but rather recognizable parsley pieces.
Mix together lemon juice, olive oil, some salt and, if you like, pepper. I tend to use no pepper in tis, as I feel it’s a bit overpowering. Season however you enjoy your salad.
Mix the dressing gently with the cucumber, tomato, parsley, and onion. Have a taste, see i9f it needs more salt, oil, or lemon juice. I like my salad on the relatively bright acidic side with less oil than, say a classic vinaigrette would use. But if you aren’t a big fan of that, add a little more olive oil.
And your Meal Prep is mostly complete.
Cover the chickpeas in water the evening before you plan to make the Falafel. There should be at least double the volume of water to chickpeas. Do not cook them. I know, that sounds counter intuitive, but it works.
If you want to have basically everything prepared the day before and just fry the Falafel, fry the Naan and make the cucumber-tomato salad on the day, soak the chickpeas in the morning and go to the next step of processing them the evening before.
The above steps mean, you can probably have a rather impressive dinner on the table in max. 1 hour. Less if you prepared the Falafel.
Making the Falafel mince
Drain the soaked chickpeas and rinse them once. Add the drained uncooked chickpeas to your food processor, together with the parsley, onion, garlic, salt and coriander (and/or cumin if using).
Process for about 30-40 seconds, until the chickpeas resemble wet sand, but are not mushy. They should hold together if you press them in your hand.
If you are making only the plain version, tip all of the mix into a bowl at this point. If you decided to try the beetroot version too, remove half of the mix from the food processor, add the chopped, cooked beetroot and process again for a few seconds, until it’s finely chopped and incorporated.
Get each version, if making both, into a separate bowl. Add half of the flour to each and mix well. If it feels too dry and won’t hold together, add up to 3 tbsp water. The beetroot version won’t need that, as it contains enough fluid.
At this point, store the Falafel mix covered in the fridge for at least half an hour or overnight. Don’t add the baking soda yet, as it will lose its raising ability, which we need to make them really fluffy.
Shaping the Falafel
When ready to fry, take the mix out of the fridge, stir in the baking soda (half into each bowl if you made both versions), mixing until it is fully incorporated.
Line one or two baking trays, depending on size, with baking parchment. Use either a tablespoon or a small cookie dough/ ice-cream scoop, to drop about golf ball sized portions onto the sheets. Once all the chickpea mince is used up, use your hands to form oval or round shapes, squishing them firmly, to give them more hold. If you feel after one they are crumbling too much, add a little more flour.
Sprinkle with a little sesame if you like and pat it on gently.
Frying the Falafel
In a large pot, add neutral oil with a high smoking point (I’m using sunflower oil, but vegetable oil will work too) until it comes about ½ to 2/3 up the sides of the pot.
Heat it until it reaches 180°C (356°F), ideally using a quick read thermometer. If you don’t have one, wait until you see small bubbles floating up gently. Take a small bit of the Falafel dough and drop it carefully into the pot. It should start sizzling and turn golden brown within a minute or so.
Line a plate with paper towels and set to the side of your pot.
At this point all the other ingredients for your Vegan Falafel Wraps should be prepared and ready and the wraps or Naan bread either frying or kept warm, so you can server it all with hot and crispy Falafel.
Fry the Falafel pieces in batches of about 6, so the oil doesn’t cool down too much. Each batch will take about 4 minutes or until they are nicely browned and cooked through. They should be dry on the inside, similar other fried goods.
Spread some of the Tahini dressing onto a warm Naan. Top with massaged kale, baby spinach, pickled cabbage, grated carrots, cucumber-tomato salad followed by the hot and crunchy Falafel. I broken them into half while doing this, as the wrap gets rather large if they are whole.
Drizzle with a little more of the dressing.
Enjoy your warm and crunchy home made Falafel. Decide this was a really good idea and you need to make them again. And again.
Most steps for meal prep are already outlined above and in the Naan recipe. But here is one more: You can freeze the Falafel balls after being fried in portions and simply re-heat in the air fryer or oven, when you need a super quick snack or dinner.
They also keep well in a lidded container in the fridge for about 3 days. Again, re-heat in air fryer or oven for a few minutes, maybe with a tiny spray of oil.
The Mezze Feast
Here are the recipes posted for the Mezze Feast so far. Mix and match whatever you like, use just one as super quick snack or dinner or all of them for one stunning feast.
Use either these Sourdough Discard Naans or the Sourdough Flatbread with Feta as your bread for it.
Now I’d love to hear from you in the comments!
Have you tried this? Did you enjoy it?
What other recipes would you like to see?
If you enjoyed this recipe, please share and comment. It helps me a lot.
Vegan Falafel Wraps
- Food Processor
For the Falafel:
- 250 g dried chickpeas about 1 cup, but ideally weigh them for this.
- 1 onion roughly chopped
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 3 tbsp roughly chopped parsley
- 1 tsp ground coriander or ½ coriander + ½ cumin
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1 ½ tbsp plain flour
- ½ tsp baking powder
- 1 cooked beetroot roughly chopped (Half of the Falafel will be 1 beetroot. If you want them all to have Beetroot, use 2)
- 750-1 l sunflower oil for frying
For the Vegetables:
- 1 cucumber
- 2 cups cherry tomatoes about 1 pack
- 1 bunch flatleaf parsley
- 1 onion chopped
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 lemon juiced
- ½ cabbage red or white, shredded
- ¾ cup water
- ½ cup white vinegar
- 1 tbsp sugar or honey
- 3 cups baby spinach
- 3 cups young kale
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 3 carrots grated
- Salt and pepper
For the Orange Thyme Tahini Dressing:
- 1/3 cup Tahini
- 2 tbsp Balsamic vinegar
- 2 tsp honey
- 1 tbsp thyme leaves stripped from the stems and chopped finely
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 1 orange juice and zest
- ½ lemon juice
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 8 ready-made whole wheat wraps
- or 1 recipe Sourdough Discard Naan
For the Sourdough Discard Naan (if making your own):
- Prepare the Sourdough Discard Naan dough ideally the day before. If you do so, you can add a little yeast, but won't need baking soda or powder, and the flavour will be better.
- Store the dough in the fridge until you are ready to roll them out and fry (about 4 minutes in the pan each).
- It's recommended to fry the Naan first and keep them warm while you fry the Falafel, so they are hot and crispy.
For the Orange Thyme Tahini Dressing:
- Prepare the dressing the day before by mixing Tahini, orange and lemon juice, orange zest, honey, balsamic vinegar, minced garlic, thyme, and salt in a jar until creamy. Store it in the fridge (it will keep for about 4 days).
For Quick Pickled Cabbage:
- Shred the cabbage finely and mix together vinegar, salt, and sugar until dissolved.
- Pour the mixture over the shredded cabbage and store it in a lidded container in the fridge.
- Wash both kale and baby spinach thoroughly but keep them separate. Spin dry.
- Store the washed and dried spinach in a lidded container.
- For the kale, remove tough stems, chop roughly, and massage with 1 tbsp olive oil and ¼ tsp salt until the leaves are very soft. Store in a lidded container.
For Shredded Carrots:
- Grate the carrots as coarse or fine as you prefer and store them in a lidded container.
For Tomato-Cucumber Salad:
- On the day of serving, chop the cucumber into cubes and halve or quarter the cherry tomatoes.
- Strip the leaves off the parsley stems and chop them roughly.
- Mix lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper if desired. Combine the dressing with cucumber, tomato, parsley, and chopped onion.
For the Falafel:
- The evening before, soak the chickpeas in water, ensuring there is at least double the volume of water to chickpeas.
- The next day, drain the soaked chickpeas and rinse them.
- Add the drained uncooked chickpeas to your food processor, together with the parsley, onion, garlic, salt, and coriander (and/or cumin if using).
- Process for about 30-40 seconds until the chickpeas resemble wet sand but are not mushy. They should hold together if pressed.
- If making the beetroot version, remove half of the mix, add the chopped, cooked beetroot, and process until finely chopped and incorporated.
- Get each version into separate bowls, add half of the flour to each, and mix well. Add up to 1.5 tbsp water to the plain version if needed to make the mix hold together.
- Store the Falafel mix covered in the fridge for at least half an hour or overnight. Do not add the baking soda yet.
For Shaping and Frying the Falafel:
- When ready to fry, stir in the baking soda and mix until fully incorporated.
- Line baking trays with parchment paper.
- Use a tablespoon or a small cookie dough/ice-cream scoop to drop portions onto the sheets. Shape them into oval or round shapes, pressing firmly.
- Sprinkle with sesame if desired.
- In a large pot, heat sunflower oil until it reaches 180°C (356°F).
- Fry the Falafel in batches of about 6 for approximately 4 minutes, or until they are nicely browned and cooked through. They should be dry on the inside.
- Spread some of the Tahini dressing onto a warm Naan or whole wheat wrap.
- Top with massaged kale, baby spinach, pickled cabbage, grated carrots, cucumber-tomato salad, and hot Falafel.
- Drizzle with a little more of the dressing.
- If the wraps get large, you can break the Falafel in half for easier wrapping.
- Serve your Vegan Falafel Wraps and enjoy!
They also keep well in a lidded container in the fridge for about 3 days. Again, re-heat in air fryer or oven for a few minutes, maybe with a tiny spray of oil. Total Calories per Portion: Approximately 595 calories
Total Protein per Portion: Approximately 15.3 grams
Total Carbohydrates per Portion: Approximately 99.7 grams
Total Fat per Portion: Approximately 17.1 grams
Total Sodium per Portion: Approximately 447 milligrams