Having been a serious reader of cookbooks for the past three years, I have come across a wide variety recipes for falafel, mostly in vegetarian or Middle Eastern cookbooks. Although I’ve come across dozens of recipes for them, I’d never actually tried falafel.
Today, however, I looked through my canned things to take inventory before heading off to the grocery store, and I saw that I had three sad, forgotten cans of garbanzo beans/chickpeas just waiting for me. I’d bought them with the intent to make hummus, but I decided to FINALLY try a falafel recipe.
Falafel are basically little fried balls or patties made from spiced chickpeas or sometimes fava beans. People typically eat them in pita bread, or wrapped in flatbread, but they can be eaten by themselves as a snack or as the Arabic or Jewish version of the Spanish tapas (snacks/appetizers). They’re also pretty common as street vendor food.
Since I’ve seen so many different recipes for falafel, I’m not sure what the “bare bones” of the recipe are, spice-wise. I chose cumin, which is traditional in Middle-Eastern cooking, then added some garlic, green onion, olive oil, salt, pepper, and–for my own touch–a pinch of paprika and allspice.
I wanted to make the recipe a bit lighter, since…well…I didn’t want a fried anything for lunch, nor, frankly, did I want my apartment to smell like anything fried. So I decided to bake them at high heat to achieve the crisp texture.
It worked out beautifully. I didn’t have any pitas or flatbread on hand. I really want to try a recipe I have on my “cook this” list for pita bread, but I didn’t have time today. So, I made them into a salad. It was delicious!
Don’t be afraid of the falafel. Please. They really are great. And, let’s be honest, it’s just really fun to say: falafel falafel falafel.
Yummy Baked Falafel
1(15oz) can chickpeas/garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
2 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 Tbsp olive oil
1tsp lemon juice
2 green onions, sliced (white and green)
1 generous tsp cumin
1 pinch allspice
1 Tbsp bread crumbs
1 Tbsp corn meal
Preheat oven to 425.
In a blender or food processor, pulse beans, garlic, olive oil, onion, cumin, allspice, and paprika 10 seconds. Scrape down sides, and pulse again 10 seconds. The mixture should still be somewhat lumpy–some of it will be well blended, but there will still be some whole or half chickpeas in there. Pour into a bowl. Combine bread crumbs and corn meal on a small plate.
Using a tablespoon, scoop level tablespoonfuls of the falafel mixture. Lightly drop each ball into the crumb mixture and flip over once, to get crumbs on the top and bottom. Place on a sprayed baking sheet and gently flatten with fingers. Repeat with remaining mixture (this should make 16 small patties.
Bake at 425 for 15-18 minutes, flipping falafel over halfway through.
For a meal, serve in a salad or in pita pockets with lettuce, tomato, and cucumber. For tapas, eat plain or serve with a dip of tahini thinned with lemon juice and water.
Makes 16 falafels (or 4 servings)