Falafels are Middle Eastern patties primarily made of mashed up chick peas that I think are a little piece of heaven. I don’t remember when I first had falafel but it may have been at the Middle East Restaurant and Night Club in Cambridge, MA, where I distinctly remember discovering that hummus was actually really good (as opposed to the icky stuff they had served at my college dining hall). One of my favorite places to eat falafel was at a little Middle Eastern sandwich joint in Providence, RI that made a delicious wrap with lettuce, tomato, onion and tahini. The best thing about the place was the free sample falafel you got as soon as you walked in the door. Being a poor recent college grad at the time, free food was very important.
Despite loving falafel, I never ever thought to make them at home. Perhaps I was put off by the fact that they’re typically breaded and deep fried and I didn’t want to go to all that trouble, or just never thought I could pull off such an exotic dish. Unfortunately all the store bought falafel patties or balls I’ve tried have been quite dry so I haven’t made them that often, though surprisingly my little picky eater does like them. So, when I found a recipe for baked falafel in one of my newer cookbooks, I knew I had to try it. The recipe comes from the Pampered Chef’s Make it Fresh Make it Healthy cookbook.
These were really easy to make and I don’t know why I’ve been avoiding making them at home for so long. They came out fluffy and moist with a nice crunchy crust. They were a little on the mild side but you can always play with flavorings by adding different spices. What’s more, both kiddos enjoyed them. Little missy declined the yogurt sauce I made to go with them, saying it was “spicy,” which is the reason she gives nowadays whenever she doesn’t like something. But the little guy ate the patties, sauce and all. I served them with a fresh salad with a vinaigrette dressing (which the little guy declined, in typical baby form by spitting it out).
The recipe is below, with my comments in italics.
Baked Falafel Patties
2 cans (15 oz) garbanzo beans
1 medium onion, quartered
½ cup loosely packed fresh cilantro leaves
½ cup loosely packed fresh parsley leaves
½ cup AP flour
¼ cup refrigerated pasteurized egg product (If you don’t have an egg substitute or don’t want to buy a carton for just one recipe, you could use 1 egg instead)
1 tbsp ground cumin, toasted
2 garlic cloves, peeled
¾ tsp each salt, and coarsely ground black pepper
1 tbsp olive oil, divided
Preheat oven to 400F. Drain and rinse the garbanzo beans. Place beans in a food processor, cover and pulse until coarsely pureed, occasionally scraping down sides of bowl. Transfer beans to a mixing bowl. Combine onion, herbs, flour, egg product, cumin, garlic, salt and black pepper in the food processor. Cover and pulse until finely chopped. Add onion mixture to beans, mix well. (Be careful when you open the food processor cover after pulsing the onion. It will feel like you were hit with tear gas. I always chop onions with a knife and do a fair amount of crying but I was not prepared for this instant full on onion assault when I opened the food processor lid.)
Brush large sheet pan with ½ tbsp of olive oil. Using a large ice cream scoop, drop 12 scoops of falafel mixture onto the pan, spacing 1 ½ inches apart. Slightly flatten the patties with the back of the scoop. Bruch tops of patties with the remaining oil. Bake 20-25 minutes or until golden brown, turning once. Remove pan from oven onto a cooling rack.
Vinaigrette and yogurt sauce (also from the Pampered Chef)
1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp sugar
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 garlic clove, pressed
To make vinaigrette, whisk together all the ingredients in a small bowl.
To make the yogurt sauce for the falafel patties combine ¼ cup plain yogurt and 1 tbsp of the vinaigrette. Actually the Pampered Chef directions call for sour cream instead of yogurt, but I don’t typically have sour cream in the fridge, whereas I always have yogurt. Sour cream would make a thicker sauce. I also added a few sprigs of fresh cilantro that I had shredded.