October 1, 2015
There’s not much being harvested in my garden these days as I wait for the fall weather and crops to kick in. I do have an abundance of fresh herbs, thanks to some early starts I found at Island Seed and Feed.
This prompted Julie Robles and me to finally scoot into the kitchen and make falafel together. We’ve been theoretically scheming up a version that was baked over fried. The combo of herb overload and this never-ending bikini weather made it happen — will I ever see a chunky sweater again?
Loaded with aromatics and baked in the oven, these green wonders are delicious and totally fresh tasting. No worrying about oil temperatures or the mess of clean-up. No more being a slave to the stove, like when I made this rendition for a dinner party.
All these need is a brush of olive oil on a cookie sheet and then slide into the oven for eight minutes. The falafel come out crispy on the outside and moist in the middle. This version is perfect when feeding a crowd; you can focus on your friends over juggling falafel balls in a frying pan.
Set up a spread of lovely, fresh sides and dips before sliding the falafel in the oven. Then, all you need to do is deliver the hot falafel to the buffet and you’re ready to go.
To make this even easier, soak the dried chickpeas overnight – no cooking needed. From there, it’s just mix the ingredients in a food processor, shape into pucks and bake. I admit to having done the unthinkable in the falafel world and used canned chickpeas (please don’t revoke my food blogger license). While no major issues were discovered, the texture is better when you simply soak dried chickpeas overnight instead of using cooked/canned chickpeas.
While I may (sometimes) be loosey-goosey on my chickpeas, I’m fanatical about toasting and grinding my own herbs. If your spices are pre-ground you can still toast them to get the maximum flavor — but don’t skip this step! When I bring new dried spices home from the store I like to toast them all and then pour them back in the container to freshly grind at cooking time. This saves me the extra step of toasting and letting them cool while I’m trying to throw dinner together.
When you pull these out of the oven you will understand why I’m in love with this recipe. It’s easy, healthy, and delicious. Most of all, the fragrance is just incredible — first you smell the mint, then the coriander…then you stuff your face.
This spread was for lunch with the ladies in my family, we built our falafel in every possible way — stuffing pitas with cucumbers, pickles, bell peppers, feta and tahini dressing, or forgoing the pita and building it all as a salad. For warm pitas, just slide in the oven on a dry cookie sheet while the falafel bake for about 5 minutes.
Baked Green Falafel
This recipe makes 40 falafel patties, each about 1 tablespoon in size. These are also really lovely as passed appetizers, too!
Note: We kept this recipe for falafel gluten-free by using garbanzo/chickpea flour. If you aren’t watching gluten, feel free to substitute with all-purpose flour.
2 cups dried chickpeas, soaked overnight
½ of an onion, chopped
1/2 cup green onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic
1/3 cup parsley, chopped
1/3 cup cilantro, chopped
¼ cup mint, chopped
1 teaspoon cumin, ground
½ teaspoon coriander, ground
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 tablespoons garbanzo flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons salt
Heat oven to 400 degrees.
Measure out the now three cups of soaked chickpeas (they will expand as they soak you might have some extra). Toast the cumin, coriander and cayenne in a dry pan until fragrant. Mix all the ingredients in a food processor, pulse until a dough forms, but it’s still mealy — you should be able to hold it together with a slight squeeze of your hand without it falling apart.
Using a 1-tablespoon ice cream scooper, scoop out balls and then flatten into a hockey puck shape with the palm of your hand. They should be about ¾” thick and 2” wide. Kids love to help with this step.
Brush a cookie sheet with olive oil, line-up the falafel pucks and bake 7 to 10 minutes in 400-degree oven, watching for them to get a little crispy.
Freezing instructions: I’ve made these, only baking up half and then froze the rest raw to heat-up later. I froze them just like I do with my veggies. Allow them to thaw for a few minutes and then bakes as above, you may just need a few more minutes in the oven.