Baked falafel (2+ servings)

falafel.jpg

Falafel is as fun to eat as it is to pronounce. In fact, "falafel" reminds me of the sound a person makes when tripping down the stairs and spilling a bag of groceries.

"Did you see Betty falafel in the lobby this morning? I felt terrible for laughing, but it was hilarious. There were oranges everywhere!"

Clearly, I have too much time on my hands here.

Anyway, for those of you who have never eaten it, falafel is a Middle Eastern chickpea fritter that's usually fried and then served in a pita. Falafel shares some ingredients with hummus (chickpeas, lemon, cumin, garlic) and is quite filling. I've had some pretty spicy versions and some tame versions, but this one is somewhere in between. I don't remember how I found this recipe , but it comes from Eat Real, and I've been making it for a while now. The baked version is easier and healthier than the traditional frying method.

You will need:

  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and quartered
  • 1/2 cup packed parsley leaves
  • handful of mint leaves (opt.)
  • 15-oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup plain breadcrumbs
  • 1-2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • olive oil

Steps:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 F. Line a baking sheet with non-stick foil, or spritz it with non-stick spray.
  2. Place the garlic, parsley, mint (if using), chickpeas, breadcrumbs, and 1 Tbsp of lemon juice in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse a few times to break down the chickpeas and garlic.
  3. Add the baking powder, cumin, a pinch of salt and pepper, and the red pepper flakes to the food processor. Pulse until it reaches a paste-like consistency. Add more lemon juice if it's too dry.
  4. Form the mixture into patties (I ended up with six) and place them on the baking sheet. Brush them with a little olive oil. Bake them for 15-20 minutes, turning them over halfway through.
  5. Serve in pitas with lettuce and tzatziki sauce. (The original recipe includes instructions for the sauce.)

You could make this recipe vegan by using non-dairy yogurt and sour cream in the sauce or by serving it with a lemon-tahini type sauce instead. I used tzatziki sauce from Med Deli here in Chapel Hill and served the falafel on their pitas, too. (I'm already wondering how I'm going to live without their pitas when we move in a couple years!)

Admittedly, my falafel was a little dry; I should have used more lemon juice. However, because the pita keeps everything together, it really didn't matter that my patties fell apart a bit. The amount of juice you'll need will depend on the texture of the brand of chickpeas you use. I also wish I had had some mint leaves on hand, because they really add a unique brightness to the falafel. This recipe is a tangy, slightly spicy, hearty dish that's easy to put together for lunch or dinner. I think you'll love it!