Falafel wins my nomination for ‘Most Delicious Mediterranean Food’ — well anyway, it’s tied with hummus, which means it scores pretty darn high on the deliciousness scale. Traditionally, Greek chefs fry chickpea patties to make this yummy vegetarian treat. But you can make scrumptious baked falafel with much less oil, and much less trouble, without that high-fat attention-hogging frying pan!
For fastest prep, grind chickpeas the day before you want to enjoy falafel yumminess. Use fresh herbs — dried versions don’t work well here — but feel free to tweak types: if you don’t have all three on hand in the quantities called for, it’s okay to mix and match (use all parsley, or just cilantro and mint, or whatever combination your taste buds and/or fresh herb supplies dictate).
Once cooked, this falafel is best served immediately. If you’re cooking ahead, remove falafel from the oven after 30 minutes, let cool completely, and refrigerate until needed. When you’re hungry, preheat oven to 400 degrees and cook falafel patties until the edges look crispy (about 15 minutes), on a parchment-lined baking sheet drizzled with sesame oil. This approach works well for dinner-party appetizers, or if you’re cooking for just one or two people.
Leftovers make great wraps and sandwiches, and crumble into a delicious topping for salads or Mediterranean-style pizzas.
- 1-lb bag of dry chickpeas, soaked overnight (not canned chickpeas)
- 1/3 cup old fashioned rolled oats (not instant)
- 2-3 Tablespoons sesame oil
- 3 Tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1-1/2 Tablespoons egg replacer (Ener-G or homemade), mixed with 5-1/2 Tablespoons water
- 1/3 to 1/2 cup each: finely chopped fresh mint, cilantro, and parsley
- 1-1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1/2 teaspoon each: salt and garlic powder
- 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon cayenne (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two large cookie sheets with parchment paper; brush lightly with sesame oil (optional, but adds flavor and crisping).
Mix egg replacer with water, until there are no visible lumps. Set aside.
Pulse the oats a few times in a blender or food processor, grinding them to a fine powder. Empty oats into a large mixing bowl; add flour, and stir well.
Drain and rinse uncooked chickpeas. In a blender or food processor, grind the chickpeas a handful at a time, to a fine mealy texture with no large pieces. Add to mixing bowl with oatmeal powder and flour; stir to combine.
Add mint, cilantro, parsley, cumin, coriander, salt, garlic powder, and cayenne to chickpea mixture; combine well. Stir in egg replacer, mix well, and let everything sit for about 15 minutes to let the binding properties of the oatmeal, flour, and egg replacer work their magic.
Tightly squeeze falafel mix with your hands, to make about 1 to 1-1/2” balls, then flatten them slightly between your palms and place the small patties on baking sheets, not touching each other. Fill the pan with a single layer of falafel patties, and bake for 30 minutes.
Flip patties over, turn heat up to 400, and bake for another 10-15 minutes til they’re golden brown and crisp-looking.
Serve with pita bread and hummus; if desired, go the extra mile and also offer tofu feta, sliced cucumber and red bells, tabouleh, and several types of of olives, for a delicious Mediterranean experience* without any pesky airline involvement!
*[Disclaimer: refers to dinner only; white sand beaches, island tours, and sailing lessons not included.]
Image credit: Creative Commons photo by giffconstable.