Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Baked Falafel

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you know that lately, I have been extolling the virtues of freshly cooked chickpeas. Guess what? I'm not done yet! This time, it's a baked version of falafel that every single member of my family ~ even the two who typically eschew legumes (oh, it's true, every family has at least one) ~ loved. And I do mean loved. Not just choked down or even politely tolerated, as they did with this recipe, a little while back.

No, this falafel is what I'd call a "keeper," which is to say that it can now enter into the rotation of regular weeknight meals. It's simple, speedy, nutritious, and now it's baked. Slathered with the Tzatziki Sauce, it seems almost as indulgent as a Big Mac.

On second thought, it doesn't really, but never mind ~ this falafel has so many unassailable points in its favor that you will completely forget about those ridiculously expensive (in terms of coin and calorie) fast-food fat bombs. Falafel, dear readers, is where it's at.

Baked Falafel with Tzatziki Sauce

  • 2 cloves garlic, quartered

  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro

  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley or mint

  • 2 cups chickpeas

  • 1/2 cup plain coarse bread crumbs

  • 1 to 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin

  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce (such as red or green Tabasco)

  • Coarsely ground black pepper to taste

  • Olive oil for brushing

  1. Place garlic, cilantro, parsley or mint, chickpeas, and bread crumbs in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse a few times to chop and blend ingredients.

  2. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon lemon juice over chickpea mixture and pulse a few more times. Sprinkle baking powder, cumin, salt, Tabasco, and black pepper over mixture and pulse until the chickpea mixture reaches a workable paste-like consistency. Add an additional tablespoon of lemon juice if it seems very dry.

  3. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. While the oven is getting hot, line a baking pan with foil and brush with olive oil. Using a large tablespoon or #40 disher (ice cream scoop), scoop balls of dough into your palms and form them into patties. Set aside on work surface while you form the remaining mixture.

  4. Arrange falafel patties on oiled baking sheet and brush them with olive oil. Bake at 400 degrees F for about 15 to 20 minutes, until the tops are golden brown and crispy. Turn once midway through baking.

  5. Remove from oven and let falafel cool on pan for a minute or two before removing to plates or pitas with a spatula.

  6. Serve in a whole-grain pita with leaf lettuce and plenty of Tzatziki Sauce.

Serves 4


Tzatziki Sauce

  • 1/2 cup sour cream (low fat is fine)

  • 1 large clove garlic, minced

  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill

  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

  • 1/4 teaspoon lemon zest

  • 1 kirby cucumber, peeled and finely diced

  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a small mixing bowl; stir to incorporate. Cover and chill for at least 30 minutes prior to serving. Taste after chilling and adjust seasonings if necessary.

Makes about 1 1/2 cups.


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Recipe Notes

  • If you have a baking stone, go ahead and use it ~ it works great here. Preheat the stone as you're preheating your oven. Brush both sides of the falafel patties with olive oil and place on the stone with a heatproof spatula. No need to turn the patties if you're using a baking stone.
  • Chickpeas are a nutritional powerhouse, but they require a whole grain to make them a complete protein. Eating the falafel in a whole-grain pita (and/or using whole-grain bread crumbs) helps achieve this.

  • You can use any small cucumber instead of the kirby, but I like this type best because the seeds are soft and unobtrusive. If you're using a garden-variety long cucumber, just scoop out the seeds before chopping.

30 comments:

  1. I like the idea of using a baking stone. My guess is the exterior has more crunch to it, is it? And why would there be no need to turn the patty when using the stone?

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  2. Baked falafel! Brilliant! I want to definitely try this.

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  3. I love this recipe. I had no idea it was so easy to make falafel! I love chick peas and am excited to try something with them besides hummus.

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  4. ~PurpleFoodie: The exterior gets a nice crunch with both the pan and the stone, but the stone is nice because you don't have to turn. No turning because nothing seems to burn on a baking stone. Sorry ~ I don't actually know why! It just cooks the bottom surface evenly. Maybe because it doesn't reflect the heat?

    ~Michelle: These are even better the next day . . . I reheated a couple in the toaster oven for lunch and they were even crispier, without additional oil. I think I'd even make a double batch in advance, just so I could reheat them to eat. :)

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  5. Oh, I LOVE falafel, and your recipe looks great! I've been experimenting with different non-fried falafel recipes with varying success - yours might be just what I'm looking for. Thank you!

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  6. I LOVE chickpeas too! All legumes for that matter. These look wonderful and I love that they are baked. Yum.....

    Emily
    www.justeatfood.com

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  7. I'm gonna make these! I actually just won a whole lot of tzatziki in a giveaway and I was going to try my hand at making pita to go with it. May as well go all the way and do the falafel too. Love that it's baked.

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  8. Hi Sandy, found you over at Coco's...nice Falafels! If you want a leaner Tzatziki, just go 100% plain yogurt (omit sour cream).

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  9. ~Cathy: Thanks! Let me know how they turn out if you have a chance to make them. :)

    ~Kathy: Great! And lucky you ~ I love tzatziki.
    I made the pitas, too, using the ABin5 light wheat dough. Very nice and unbelievably quick. Great "puff."

    ~Peter: Hi, and welcome! Thanks for the suggestion! I used low-fat sour cream, but homemade yogurt is so nice and smooth it's not necessary to blend it, so you're right ~ it would be fine on its own. Yum.

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  10. I was addicted to this when I was pregnant with my daughter! This recipe looks heavenly! Thanks for sharing :) I think I will try this next week :)

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  11. I have not made Falafel is soooo long-I mnean years. I bet you would do a great job being creating in my challenge going on at my blog. Super fun!
    http://savorthethyme.blogspot.com

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  12. The recipe sounds delicious! My girlfriend and I have been looking for a good falafel recipe for a while, we will definitely give this one a try!

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  13. I have been getting into chickpeas myself and have forgotten how good they are. Now I keep a couple of cans in my pantry all the time.
    I will have to try your chickpea and romaine salad, looks so simple and delicious. I will have to give this falafel a try too and it is nice that it is baked.

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  14. I have got to try this! I love love love falafel but hate frying.

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  15. Good one for me! Sounds nice and light. I'm a big fan of the chickpea :)

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  16. Tried this last night on a whim. I thought it was absolutely delicious. I also liked that almost every item is in the same aisle at the grocery store :)

    The tzatziki is my favorite part-- I could put it on everything.

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  17. I made this tonight and it was delicious! Thanks for the great recipe-it's great to not have to fry this.

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  18. ~Anonymous: Thanks for following your whim, and sharing your kind words here! I'm loving the tzatziki too ~ I make naan just so I can use it to eat the tzatziki with. (Yeah, a spoon would work, but that just seems so wrong.) :)

    ~Jill: I'm so glad you liked the recipe! I ended up reheating my leftovers in the toaster oven the next day, and they were even crisper and yummier (I thought). And thanks for sharing your feedback, too! I really appreciate it.

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  19. Nutritional value???

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  20. I just made these and they are delicious! I used a potato masher instead of a food processor and they still turned out great. A little chunkier than in the pic, but still great.

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  21. YUK :d ! These are AWFUL. Sooo bland, even when I upped the seasoning to a tablespoon. A real mess to cook, too. Too soft; they fell apart on the baking stone. I tried to fry them after baking, they dissolved into the oil.

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  22. I will try these, as I was looking for a baked falafel. I will adjust spices to my preferences too, as I personalize all my recipes. Healthy TIP:Some wheat germ may be substituted for the bread crumbs.
    Handling TIP: As far as the falling apart comment from 2/13/10, I have read that adding tahini sauce will bind a dry/falling apart recipe, and if you eat eggs, an egg (or, egg substitute) can be used for the same purpose. I agree,100 percent no-fat yogurt is better nutritionally, than using sour cream. I make my sauce with Stonyfield organic plain yogurt, dried or fresh dill, sesame oil, lemon juice, diced/seeded cucumbers.I now use wraps instead of pita bread. My husband adds hotsauce to his, & I spray on a bit of ow-sodium soy sauce on mine with diced tomatoes & shredded lettuce rolled in the wrap with the sauce in there too. Enjoy!

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  23. I made these and loved the taste (did adjust to my own taste - I like cumin and garlic and hot sauce!!!). My problem is that i have not made, or seen someone make falafel before, and did not know how moist or firm the mixture should be. I also do not have a food processor so used a combination of blender, pestle and mixer to get the chick peas ground up and combined with the rest(processor is now on my wish list). So my problem was that the mixture was a bit crumbly, while forming the patties, and after cooking. Also, are the bread crumbs meant to be from day old or fresh bread, or the dried kind I have ina box in my pantry? Once I get the "feel" of the mixture I can judge better how to adjust - for example, how much extra lemon juice it might need. I love falafel, really want to be able to make my own, this was my second try, the first involved a mix that I added water to , and it needed to be fried, and I ended up with a really oily crunchy(probably overcooked)thing. Yours was more what I want,or will be when I figure out what I am doing, but I need your help. Can you enlighten me?

    Farwestjoyce

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  24. Farwestjoyce: Great questions! You can use either day-old or dried bread crumbs for this recipe ~ the latter will absorb more moisture from the mix so you'll need to add more liquid.

    The texture of the mixture will be a bit pasty, as with any bean burger mixture, but it should hold its shape without too much trouble. If it's very crumbly, go ahead and add more liquid a tablespoon or so at a time. You can add lemon juice, the liquid reserved from canned beans, a little olive oil, or even a beaten egg.

    Results will differ slightly between canned and cooked dried beans, so a certain amount of trial and error is inevitable if you're switching between the two. I'd see what works best for you and then write it down for next time. Hope this helps!

    Best,
    Sandy

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  25. Heya, I made this recipe yesterday. It tasted great but it also turned out a bit dry and crumbly for me. Next time I think I'll add a bit of egg as well, that seems to be the magic trick to make almost any veggie burger fantastic. Thanks for the recipe!

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  26. I found your recipe via a Google search and I love it! I have made it twice now. I must be using too much herbs because my falafel patties are much greener than yours.

    Have you tried rolling them into balls and baking them, in line with the more traditional way they are served (at least here)? I guess they would need to be cooked longer. How many patties can you get out of a full recipe batch? I make my patties the size of hamburgers. I made a 1.5 recipe batch and had 10 patties, which I reheat throughout the week for lunches/dinners.

    Thanks!

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  27. just made these! turned out great! thanks for sharing the recipe!

    only thing i did different was use 'kamut' breadcrumbs.

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  28. I've always wanted to try baked falafel. Just thumbing through these comments. I'm wondering how many people used dry chickpeas in a bag without soaking them. Chickpeas must be soaked overnight before using them in falafel. Perhaps that is why their falafel is falling apart or dissolving into the oil. BTW, Falafel is supposed to be served with Tahini sauce not Tzatziki Sauce. While I'm sure Tzatziki Sauce is quite good on these, Tzatziki Sauce is for Gyros ;)

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  29. I can't wait to try these. Did a google search for baked falafel (wasn't sure I'd find anything!) and am thrilled to find these. Wanted a healthier version than fried. Thanks so much!

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  30. I just made this recipe and I loved it! After dinner my mom said that she felt as if she had just eaten at a restaurant. I plan on making it again in the future. Thanks!

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