One of my worst “bad wife” moments revolves around falafel. Let me set the scene.
Me, pregnant and cranky and tired and not interested in cooking. My husband, a wonderful, caring, selfless person who decided to bless me by making falafel from scratch. Like, fried and everything. I came home from work and arrived to find the kitchen covered in falafel happenings. Let me repeat – I was pregnant and cranky, but that is still no excuse for me to get all up in his space and inspect the recipes he was using, and taste the falafel and declare that they would be better if he hadn’t used canned chickpeas. I mean, FOR REAL? It still pains me to think about what a jerk I was, pregnant or not. Oh, the shame…
You might be thinking to yourself, well what’s wrong with using canned chickpeas in falafel? Nothing, really. Except – and this is going to reveal my ultra-high levels of cooking snobbery – it won’t be falafel. It’ll be falafel-flavored chickpea mush shaped into a ball. To get the perfect falafel texture, you simply must use dried chickpeas that have been soaked in water to reconstitute them. You won’t find a lot of recipes telling you to do this, but I’m asking you to trust me here. It makes all the difference in the world. So let’s get started! Oh, you want to see how to make oven-baked falafel first? Here you go!
How to Make Oven-Baked Falafel
You’re hungry for falafel now, aren’t you? Cool, let’s make some. 🙂First, we need to get our soak on. Well, the chickpeas do. Here is 1 cup of dried chickpeas before soaking, and after soaking. They have tripled in volume. Nifty, huh? So 1 cup of dried chickpeas will yield you around 3 cups of soaked chickpeas, which just happens to be what we need for this recipe.
The remaining cast of characters are surprisingly simple (and cheap!). They are:
- Aromatics – red onion, garlic, LOTS of fresh parsley (and/or cilantro, I used a mix)
- Seasonings – fresh lemon juice, ground cumin, cayenne powder (just a pinch, or more if you like it SPICY), and salt
- Did you notice there is no oil? That’s because there’s no oil. You can add some if you want. But it’s totally not necessary. We’ll get to that.
The actual making of the falafel is so easy, and I have a cool trick up my sleeve to make portioning the falafel balls super quick and mess-free. First, just pulse all of the ingredients in a food processor until the mixture is finely ground. If you try to make a ball out of the batter using your hands, it’s likely not going to hold it’s shape and seem too wet. That’s ok. You’re not going to use your hands. You’re going to use a cookie scoop. Or an ice cream scoop. Or a disher. Whatever you call it, it’s a spring-loaded scoop that looks like this:
This is the OXO Good Grips Cookie Scoop, size Medium/#40. #40 refers to the equivalent size of a similar tool called a disher (for ice cream). It holds about 1.5 tablespoons, making it perfect for, you guessed it, cookie dough, but equally perfect for portioning falafel balls hands-free. Just dip it into the batter, and slide it along the edge of the food processor bowl to remove any excess, and release the lovely little mound of falafel goodness onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. If you don’t have any parchment paper, definitely prepare the baking sheet with some oil spray (I love this avocado oil spray), because otherwise the falafel balls will stick and you’ll be cursing me. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
A quick trip in the oven at 400F for 20 minutes will yield these magnificent mounds of falafel goodness.
All that lovely crispy brown you see? No oil involved at all. If you did want them to be even more crispy and brown, you could certainly hit them with a spray of oil before baking, but I didn’t miss it all. It’s totally up to you.
Three Ways to Stuff Your Face with Falafel
Romaine lettuce lined with hummus and stuffed with falafel, drizzled with tahini sauce and topped with tomato
Pita bread stuffed with hummus, lettuce, tomato, falafel, and tahini sauce
Falafel, hummus, tahini sauce, quinoa tabouli, and pita bread
These are just some starting points. You funnel those falafel into your mouth however you want. And don’t feel a smidge of guilt, either, because they’re only 37 calories each!
As for me, I do still have a bit of guilt over my bad wife falafel moment. I know I’ve said it before, but I’m so sorry, Michael. Maybe you’ll be willing to try again now? I promise to stay the heck out of the kitchen.
- 1 cup dried chickpeas (soaked in 4 cups water overnight (see Notes for quick-soak method))
- 1 medium red onion (chopped)
- 1 cup fresh parsley (chopped (or a mix of parsley and cilantro))
- 3 cloves garlic (peeled and roughly chopped)
- 1 lemon (juiced)
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon salt
- pinch of cayenne pepper ((or more to taste))
- Oil cooking spray (optional)
- Preheat oven to 400F.
- Rinse and drain soaked chickpeas.
- Add chickpeas to the bowl of a food processor and pulse until coarse.
- Add onion, garlic, parsley, lemon juice, and spices.
- Pulse mixture until In a food processor until finely ground and no large pieces remain.
- If your food processor is struggling to process all of the ingredients at once, do it in two batches and then combine the batter before baking.
- Using a small cookie scoop or disher, portion approximately 2 tablespoons of batter onto a parchment-lined baking sheet.
- If desired, spray tops of falafel balls with oil cooking spray for more even browning (but it is not necessary at all).
- Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown and cooked throughout.
- Enjoy with in a lettuce wrap or pita with hummus and tahini sauce, or any other way you like to eat falafel!