This was my first time making falafel. I had to try it twice before I got the seasonings right. However, the process itself is so easy, I can’t believe I haven’t tried this before (because I love falafel!)
Basically, you place a bunch of clean ingredients into a food processor and pulse until its a “paste” that you can mold with your hands. Then, you pop them in the oven – et voila, falafel patties!
When I graduated college and moved in on my own, I discovered falafel. Being in my early 20s, I’d leave the bars late at night in the city and want something to nosh on – ideally healthy… but also filling and delightful.
Enter a bazillion falafel food trucks.
I’d always get a falafel salad – with extra tzatziki sauce (skip the pita!) The next day, when I woke up, I wouldn’t feel gross (like you do when you eat two $1 slices of pizza – or three.)
Falafel is wonderful – garbanzo beans are a gluten-free, vegan, lean protein source. I mean, who doesn’t love hummus (made of garbanzos) and veggies?
Oh and this sauce. I didn’t want to go with a traditional tzatziki/yogurt sauce that typically accompanies falafel, so I went back to the drawing board and thought back to those crazy NYC nights and remembered hummus… and then, tahini.
Tahini is made from ground sesame seeds. You can usually find it in hummus. It’s wonderful.
So instead of using yogurt, I started with tahini and added mint for some freshness, which pairs really perfectly with the cucumber noodles.
While the baked falafel steals the show here, the cucumber noodles work their own separate magic – like a crunchy, refreshing salad. The mint-tahini dressing coats the cucumber noodles and makes every bite flavorful and tangy.
Plus – baked falafel has significantly less fat than fried falafel. Instead of frying these chickpea patties, we place them in a cast iron skillet coated with olive oil, which adds flavor, healthy fats and a pretty brown color as it bakes.
Needless to say, the falafel I was having in the city wasn’t baked. Definitely fried. So good. :)
What are your thoughts on falafel?
Nutritional Information & Recipe
- For the falafel:
- 1 cup canned chickpeas, rinsed, drained and patted dry
- 1/3 cup chopped red onion
- 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 egg, beaten
- 3 tablespoons olive oil + more for coating a cast iron skillet
- For the dressing:
- 3 tablespoons tahini
- zest and juice of 1 small lemon
- 1 garlic clove, finely minced
- 1 tablespoon freshly chopped mint
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- For the salad:
- 1 cucumber, Blade C, noodles trimmed
- 3 packed cups baby arugula
- 6 cherry tomatoes, halved
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- In a food processor, combine all of the ingredients for the falafel except for the additional oil for coating the cast iron skillet (later step). Process until no longer chunky, about 1 minute. Place into a mixing bowl and add in the egg. Toss to combine thoroughly.
- Scoop out enough of the mixture to make 6 large golf ball sized falafel balls and then shape them into patties by setting them down and pressing down to slightly flatten. Set aside.
- Place the falafel in a cast iron skillet coated lightly with olive oil (about 1 tablespoon.)
- Bake for 12-15 minutes and then flip over and bake another 15 minutes or until the falafel is lightly browned on both sides.
- While the falafel is baking, prepare the dressing and cucumber salad. Place all of the ingredients for the dressing into a bowl and whisk together. Set aside. For the salad, pat dry the cucumber noodles to remove all excess moisture and then combine in a large mixing bowl with the arugula. Toss to combine and divide onto two plates. Set aside.
- When the falafel is done baking, divide equally among the salad plates and drizzle with dressing. Garnish with cherry tomatoes.