The Nutty Addition Your Falafel Is Begging For

falafel with parsley on wood background
falafel with parsley on wood background - MaraZe/Shutterstock

Falafel is the perfect crispy bite that you can pop in a salad or stuff into a pita. Its simple ingredients, distinct flavor, and easy storage make this traditional dish a tasty classic — but why stick to the same old same old? You may think it's nuts, but the crunchy upgrade your falafel has been needing is none other than pistachios.

Falafel is traditionally made with a chickpea or fava bean base, packed with spices and herbs such as cumin and parsley, and then rolled into balls and fried. Pistachios grind easily and blend seamlessly with chickpeas, and their sweeter flavor naturally complements the spices in the dough, making them a great addition to falafel. Both falafel and pistachios also hail from the same area of the world — the Middle East and Mediterranean — making these culinary cousins are an ideal pair. People frequently use chickpeas and pistachios together in cookies and other recipes, so why not falafel?

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Adding Pistachios To Your Falafel Recipe Is Easy And Delicious

roasted and chopped pistachios on dark background
roasted and chopped pistachios on dark background - Handmadepictures/Getty Images

Modifying your falafel recipe to include pistachios is wildly easy — all you do is add them in! That's right, pistachios simply get blended along with your chickpea and herb base so the nut's flavor melds with the rest of your dough. Of course you'll need to prepare them ahead of time. To do so, remove the pistachio shells then roast the nuts in the oven for a few minutes. This allows the nut's oils to draw out, enhancing the flavor, and it also makes them easier to digest. You can also use pre-shelled, roasted and salted pistachios, which save time without sacrificing flavor.

Adding pistachios to your falafel gives them a great boost in protein and antioxidants, but more importantly, gives a boost in flavor and texture. Crunchy pistachios have a sweet, earthy taste that compliments falafel friendly herbs like mint and cilantro. You can also add some spice to your falafel by adding cayenne pepper or peppercorns, combining your sweet with heat. Given pistachios' naturally sugary taste, adding them means you can up the spice level while maintaining a good balance. Another way to enhance the sweetness is by adding saffron — also indigenous to the Mediterranean — to your recipe. Finally, pistachios easily absorb the flavors around them and will naturally take on the garlic in your recipe. They'll integrate the garlic more evenly into each bite by soaking up the strong taste of the aromatic.

Serve Your Pistachio Falafel Like A Pro

pistachio falafel on white plate
pistachio falafel on white plate - marco mayer/Shutterstock

Now that you've leveled up your falafel recipe, you'll need to do the same with your servings. As falafel tends to be a drier food, they go great with hummus and yogurt dressings. A creamy lemon hummus or honey tahini dressing will not only fit the flavor profile of your falafel, but draw out more of the sweetness in your pistachios. Oranges famously pair well with pistachios, so why not add a few segments to a pita along with your falafel for a citrusy bite. You can also add some moisture to this dish by replacing a pita with lettuce cups.

You can cook your falafel in a variety of ways. The traditional recipe calls for deep-frying, but you can get a similar crispy effect by making air fryer falafel. They are also easily made in the oven, which makes baked falafel perfect for larger batches.

Falafel store easily, both frozen and in the fridge. Uncooked, you can store your falafel in the fridge for up to a day on a lined baking sheet, making it easy to prep ahead of time when entertaining. However, you can store the balls in the freezer in sealed plastic bags -- either uncooked or cooked -- and they keep for several months when frozen. Note that the addition of pistachios has no effect on the shelf life of your falafel, so it stores just as well!

Read the original article on The Daily Meal.