This might sound strange but I sometimes purposefully keep certain things difficult even if there is an easy way to do them.
Example: frying stuff. I love it and if I had some sort of fry machine I’m pretty sure I would fry stuff on the regular.
As is though, I have to bust out a large pot, fill it with oil, heat the oil, fry the food, clean the thing… it’s a process.
I like it this way though because it means that I have to really want something fried to go through the trouble of making it.
The obvious benefit to this is health. If I ate as much fried food as I wanted, I might not be able to fit through my front door.
The hidden benefit of this is that it forces me to come up with other ways to make traditionally fried foods. Recently, I learned that falafel, which is traditionally fried, can also be baked!
You can still get them crispy and the flavors are all still wonderful.
Yield: Serves 4.
2 cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 small red onion, minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup parsley, minced
2 teaspoon coriander
2 teaspoon cumin
2-4 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
Salt and pepper
1 cup Greek yogurt
1 lemon, juice only
1/2 cucumber, peeled and diced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup feta, crumbled
4 large pita breads, halved (for sandwiches)
1) Drain chickpeas and mash them in a bowl with a fork. Some chunks are okay.
2) Toast cumin and coriander and then grind (or use ground spices) Add spices to chickpeas.
3) Stir in veggies, parsley, and olive oil to chickpeas and add enough flour until the mixture sticks together (2-4 tablespoons).
4) Form small patties, about two tablespoons, out of the mixture and flatten it slightly. Add patties to a baking sheet with parchment paper. Drizzle with olive oil.
5) Bake falafel at 350 degrees for 20 minutes, flipping once halfway through.
6) Meanwhile prepare toppings and mix together tzatziki sauce.
7) Stuff falafels in warmed pita and drizzle in sauce and stuff with veggie toppings.
The Falafel Mix
I’ve made serious fried falafel before and this falafel mix is similar but a bit lighter and also easier to make. Still very tasty though.
Most importantly, there’s no need for a food processor for this mixture. I just used a fork to mash together the ingredients. Be sure to drain and rinse your chickpeas well before mashing them lightly in a bowl.
Some lumps are just fine.
There are only a few things you need to chop for this mixture.
For the onions and garlic, make sure you dice them really finely. You want to make sure they are evenly distributed in the mix.
Note that the below photo is PRE-chopping.
As for spices, I used some very standard falafel spices for this version.
If you wanted to make them slightly spicy, you could add in some red pepper flakes and paprika.
Be sure to use fresh spices for this recipe. They really make a big difference. If you have some jar of ground cumin that you’ve had in your pantry for a decade, go grab a new one.
Better yet, just switch to whole spices. Toast them in a dry pan over medium heat for a few minutes until they are fragrant and then give them a whirl in a spice grinder.
Mix all this stuff together in your bowl. Drizzle in some olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper.
Stir in just enough flour to make the mixture stick together. You shouldn’t need more than a few tablespoons as it will be a fairly dry mixture to start with.
Baking the Falafels
Baking these guys is way easier than frying them. Just line a few baking sheets with parchment paper and then lay out the falafel balls. Each falafel should be about two tablespoons of the mixture. Round it into a ball and then flatten it slightly.
Once you get them all formed, drizzle them with some olive oil.
Bake these guys for about 20 minutes at 350 degrees and flip them once halfway through.
They should get slightly browned and crispy on the outside. They won’t be as crispy as the fried version obviously, but they are still very good.
Toppings and Such
These falafel are really only half the story with these guys.
The toppings are also important. Almost any crunchy vegetable will be good. These are just a few of my favorites.
And I mixed up a quick tzatziki sauce with greek yogurt, lemon, cucumber and olive oil. It gives the sandwich some moisture and the lemon makes everything really pop.
Then just break apart your pita bread, spread in some of the tzatziki sauce. Stuff in a few falafels and lots of fresh veggies and you are all set.
It’s a really healthy sandwich and perfect for lunches or dinners.
Betsy and I honestly didn’t miss the fried version much when we had these. They still have plenty of texture and the flavors are still excellent.
Besides being healthier, these are just plain faster and easier than traditional falafel.
Give them a shot!