It’s been sweltering around here lately, and the last thing I’ve wanted to do is crank up the oven.
But I ate a falafel from the hot bar at Earth Fare not too long ago, and since then I can’t get the idea of recreating those flavors out of my mind. The craving got the best of me in the end, and I turned on the oven in my already oven-like tiny kitchen.
It was like oven inception….but totally worth it for these falafel bowls.
The funny thing about falafel is that when I was living in Greece, everyone back home asked me how the falafels were.
Ok that’s not really the funny part.
The funny part is that I never saw one falafel while I was there, and my husband who’d lived there all his life had never even heard of them. Or hummus.
Falafel (and hummus) is traditional Middle Eastern food. They’re basically a mixture of chickpeas, herbs, and spices that gets rolled into balls and fried–then typically stuffed into a pita.
I usually don’t eat fried food if I’m eating out, not because I’m afraid of the fat but because most fried foods are cooked in oils that I try to avoid, like soybean and canola oil.
And frying is just too much of a mess for me to do it at home–and sort of a waste of good oil, in my opinion.
So I wanted to bake these falafels.
I’ll admit, they don’t have that super crunchy outside that comes from a dip in the fry machine, but they are so tasty and way less messy.
Falafels are commonly served with a tahini sauce. I’m obsessed with tahini, so I kept that theme.
But I wanted to make a sauce that was a little more fun and flavorful, so I roasted a red pepper and together they made a winning combination. You just blend the roasted red pepper and tahini until it’s really creamy and then drizzle in a bit of olive oil and a squeeze of lemon.
I could eat that on a flip-flop, really.
Luckily I had a big bowl of refreshing veggies to drizzle it over. You can eat eat the falafels in a pita, or have them with a salad, like we did.
For our falafel bowls, I used butter lettuce, crunchy cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, pickled red onions for a tangy bite, and avocado for extra creaminess. We also stuck in a little bit of pineapple–not absolutely necessary, but so, so good.
The baked falafels don’t always hold their form quite as well as the fried variety, but a few crumbs never hurt anyone, right?
*Update: I’ve added 1 egg to the original recipe to help bind the falafels a bit more (it also adds some extra protein!)
- 1 15 oz can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained
- 1 egg
- 1 packed cup fresh parsley, leaves and stems
- 1/2 cup grated carrot
- 1/2 cup walnuts
- 1/4 cup chopped red onion
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- 2 tablespoons tahini
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Few grinds black pepper
- Squeeze of lemon
- 1 red bell pepper
- 2 tablespoons tahini
- 1/4-1/2 teaspoon salt
- Juice of 1/2 a lemon
- Drizzle of olive oil
- Butterhead lettuce
- Cherry tomatoes
- Pineapple (optional)
- Pickled red onion (optional)
- Set the oven to broil and place red bell pepper on a baking sheet. Turn the pepper every few minutes until all sides are blackened (about 15 minutes).
- Remove the bell pepper and add it to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap to allow it to steam.
- Heat the oven to 400 degrees.
- Add all falafel ingredients except for chickpeas to a food processor and pulse until the mixture comes together but is not smooth. Add in chickpeas and continue to pulse a few more times, scraping down the sides with a spatula. Don't overmix, you want to keep the mix with some texture to it.
- Roll the mixture into balls (I made 10 balls). Drizzle some olive oil onto a parchment lined baking sheet and roll each ball to coat in the oil. Place the balls onto the baking sheet and flatten them slightly. Bake for 20 minutes, flipping halfway through.
- While the falafels bake, peel away the black skin from the roasted red pepper and discard it along with the stem and seeds. Add the pepper to the food processor along with the rest of the sauce ingredients. Blend until smooth.
- Divide salad ingredients between two bowls, add falafels and drizzle with sauce!
The falafels will firm up after cooling for a few minutes.
Don't let me do all the talking! Let me know what you think in the comments.