If you’ve been spending all your time in the produce section of your grocery store, you’ve been missing out on a super nutrient-packed and versatile legume that can be found where the dried goods or canned veggies reside: the chickpea. Not only are chickpeas a great addition to salads or as a side dish, the small but mighty ingredient is the basis for two major Mediterranean staples: falafel and hummus.
Falafel and hummus both are chickpea-based foods, but have some key differences. Hummus, a paste made of chickpeas (typically with tahini, olive oil, lemon, salt and often, with additional spices and flavorings like roasted red pepper), is delicious slathered on pita, can be used as a substitute for salad dressing, or work as an alternative to unhealthy ranch dressing in your next crudité platter.
Falafel, meanwhile, are patties made of ground chickpeas that have been soaked in water to soften them, blended with spices and herbs, and then deep-fried. (Oh and for those wondering, falafel can be both singular and plural.) Falafel are great for crumbling into salads, eating on the go in a sandwich or pita, or just popped into your mouth on their own.
Related Reading: Every Tip You’ll Ever Need for Making Crispy Falafel
Though they have some differences, both foods are a great plant-based source of protein and pack a hefty serving fiber—not to mention, are a much healthier alternative to most other foods you can eat when you’re on the move.
Thinking of DIY-ing either one? You’ll want to keep one major tip in mind: Using canned chickpeas is A-okay for making hummus, but a no-no if you’re making falafel. If you used canned chickpeas for falafel, they’ll likely come apart when you throw them in to fry. Use dried chickpeas for the latter.
Ready to experiment with adding hummus and falafel into your meal rotation? Read ahead for some ideas.
Want a colorful addition to your next table spread? This beet-based take on hummus makes for a smooth spread perfect for topping a slice of your favorite bread. Get the recipe.
Don’t feel like going through the rigamarole of actually making falafel yourself? Then this deconstructed version will satisfy all your flavor cravings (plus provide an extra kick from jalapeno) without you having to go through all the motions. Try the recipe.
When you’re bored of the same old plain chicken breast recipe, you can upgrade your poultry with close to zero effort by coating it with hummus and throwing it in the oven. You won’t be able to get enough of the juicy, savory outcome. Try this recipe.
This filling, satisfying, and healthy meal is an ideal choice for lunch or your #MeatlessMonday dinner. Topped with garlic, olives, and fresh herbs, the freshness will make it a staple in your meal queue as soon as you taste it. Try the recipe.
Is avocado toast basically your religion at this point? Then this flavorful hummus recipe is made for you. With a food processor in hand and about the time it takes to read this article, you can have this creamy dip ready to go before your next avocado craving strikes. Try the recipe.
Looking to bring the heat? Then this carrot-centric take on hummus is just the ticket. Harissa paste imbues the spread with a bold smoky flavor that is an upgrade from your standard grocery store hummus. Get our Spicy Carrot Hummus recipe.
Some combinations are no brainers, and some are unexpected but nevertheless genius when you stumble upon them. Pizza and falafel are one of those surprising pairings in this veggie centric recipe that provides all the comfort and portability of your favorite pizza and falafel take out. Try this recipe.
This take on a veggie burger isn’t short on flavor or crunch. Meanwhile, tomato jam and a decadent brioche bun complement the patty for the perfect meatless meal. Get our Falafel Burgers recipe.