If you are a regular reader of my blogs, you know that I have been extolling the virtues of freshly cooked chickpeas. Guess what? I’m not done yet! This time, it’s a baked 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Remove from oven and let falafel cool on pan for a minute or two before removing to plates or pitas with a spatula.
- Serve in a whole-grain pita with leaf lettuce and plenty of Tzatziki Sauce.
- 1/2 cup plain nonfat yogurt
- 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.
- 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.