I never had falafel before yesterday. I wasn’t even sure what it was. Just in case I’m not the last person on the planet who didn’t already know this, falafel refers to a deep-fried cake or patty that’s made of spiced fava beans or chickpeas. Anyway, I saw Ellie Krieger make a baked version recently, and it looked so good and easy that I had to try it.
You just take some chickpeas, onion, garlic, cumin, coriander, parsley, cilantro, and olive oil and mash them all together or pulse them in the food processor, and then you form the mixture into little balls and bake them in the oven for 40 minutes. I left out the cilantro because Adam doesn’t like it, and, as I was making the falafel balls, I rolled them in some breadcrumbs, just a little, to help them adhere. The breadcrumb step may not have been necessary, but some reviews of this recipe said that the falafel balls fall apart, so I was taking an extra precaution. Mine held together nicely and developed a golden outer crust.
Since I’ve never had falafel before I can’t compare these to the traditional deep-fried version, but I still say they were pretty good. The recipe calls for them to be served with tahini sauce, which is what I did, but I think next time I’ll make a nice tzatziki to go with them. This time around I only had half a cucumber in the fridge, and I chopped it up and stuffed it in the pitas.
Baked Falafel Pitas
Adapted from Ellie Krieger’s Baked Felafel Sandwiches
1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup minced onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup parsley leaves
2 tablespoons olive oil
Breadcrumbs, for forming balls (optional)
1/2 cup pure tahini paste
3 to 4 tablespoons lemon juice
3 to 4 tablespoons water, plus more if necessary
1 cup shredded romaine lettuce
2 tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1/2 medium cucumber, seeded, peeled and chopped
4 pita pockets, sliced open
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Combine all falafel ingredients except 1 tablespoon olive oil in the bowl of a food processor. Process for 10 seconds. Stop motor and scrape down sides of bowl, then pulse for another 10 seconds, until all ingredients are well incorporated but mixture is still slightly coarse and grainy. Form mixture into 16 falafel balls, adding breadcrumbs sparingly if necessary, and brush with remaining tablespoon olive oil. Bake on a lightly greased cookie sheet for 20 minutes; flip falafel balls and bake an additional 20 minutes or until falafel balls are crisp and browned.
Combine tahini, lemon juice, and water and stir to incorporate, adding more water to achieve desired consistency. Reserve.
Toss together lettuce, tomatoes, and cucumbers in a bowl. Warm pita breads for 5 minutes in oven. Fill each pita with 3/4 cup salad, 4 falafel balls, and 1/4 cup tahini sauce.