Healthy baked falafel made from soaked chickpeas and jam-packed with fresh herbs and spices. Finished with a bright yellow turmeric tahini dressing - these are a winner!
This healthy Baked Falafel recipe has been in my mind for a few months now, it was definitely a recipe that needed making and re-making to get it just-so, which is why it took so long to create.
I’m really not a big falafel eater. The only time I used to have them, was in the early hours of the morning, bumbling into the kebab store wobbly-legged and full of giggles at the end of a night out dancing. And then, instant falafel-kebab regret. An ounce of soberness traded for a belly full of stodgy, heavy grease, onion breath and a smear of sauce on a new top. Just charming.
This was many moons ago now. I feel well and truly grown up since those advertising-creative-party-girl days. Tsk tsk I want to say to my younger self!
What I meant to say was, I’m not a big falafel eater because I have such strong memories of those late-night clumsy walk-ins. But recently, I had a craving come back. Falafels are good, right? They can be really, really good, done right, and they don’t need to be deep-fried in oil, slathered in sugary sauce and sandwiched between doughy bread to be enjoyed.
In fact - I did make some healthy raw falafels a while back now - Skinny Falafel - they're made with sprouted quinoa, celeriac, zucchini, herbs and spices. The recipe was paired with a wicked raw Zucchini Hummus - do check it out, you may like to match it up with this recipe also. But now let's get back to the elusive baked variety with that beautiful crunch...
The falafel trials
And so the mission began. I started out using tinned chickpeas – which really, is so lazy of me – and no surprise, the resulting falafels were ok spice-wise but were soft and mushy, not a nice mouth-feel. Then I played with adding some extra flour to bind and thicken them up – rice (nope – funny taste), oat (double no – super sticky and impossible to roll), and finally chickpea (yep – right flavour, and not too sticky). I tried soaking the chickpeas then lightly steaming them before baking, and found the steaming an annoyingly unnecessary step. They are getting cooked after all so why do it twice?
In the end, I settled on a good 24-hour soak for the chickpeas, which has the added benefit of making them that much friendlier on the gut, and blended them with lots of fresh greens – spinach and parsley from the garden and a big bunch of coriander (those who can successfully grow coriander without it bolting to seed – I bow in awe).
Finally, instead of relying on the chickpea flour to give them a firmer texture, I used a mix of sunflower and sesame seeds. This was great as they ended up with a bit of crunch. Far from mushy. Mission accomplished!
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Turmeric and Tahini dressing
To serve, I made a lovely spiced tahini dressing. Sumac is something I’ve been playing around with lately – it has a beaut colour and a lovely lemony-tang. A bit of paprika (not too much – or it takes over), turmeric powder, and a dash of a slightly sweet white balsamic from the Farmer’s Market. Herbs and spices are actually among the richest, most concentrated sources of antioxidants  – so use them liberally in your cooking (and un-cooking).
It’s photographed here with a simple garden salad. They tasted even better the next day, and I found myself making quick lunches through the week by adding a big dollop of hummus, a few tablespoons of fermented beet and red cabbage, and a few sprinkles of karengo fronds, a type of red seaweed native to New Zealand (also called Porphyra) – which I love for its rich store of minerals .
I’ll definitely be making these again, they make easy read-made mid week feasts.
Hope you enjoy, and please share your coriander growing tips if you have any!
HEALTHY BAKED FALAFEL WITH SPINACH AND SUNFLOWER SEEDS
- 1 cup chickpeas dried
- Splash of apple cider vinegar
- ¼ cup + 2 tablespoons chickpea flour
- ¼ cup sunflower seeds
- 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
- 1 cup of tightly packed spinach about 50g
- 1 cup fresh parsley
- 1 cup fresh coriander
- 1 red onion
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- Juice of half a lemon
- ½ teaspoon coarse sea salt
- 1 teaspoon cumin powder
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 teaspoons sumac
- ¼ teaspoon hot chilli flakes
- A bit of olive oil and extra sesame seeds to top with
- Soak chickpeas in a large bowl of water with a splash of apple cider vinegar for a full 24 hours – use lots of water as they will double in size. Once soaked, drain well.
- Pre heat oven to 180˚C.
- Roughly chop all the fresh greens/herbs and the red onion, then add all ingredients to a food processor. Blitz till well combined. I found it blended easier when adding the greens first and the chickpeas last.
- Roll mixture into balls and place on a baking tray lined with baking paper.
- Drizzle a little olive oil and sprinkle sesame seeds over the top.
- Bake for 35-40 minutes or till done, flipping them over halfway.
- Serve with fresh salad and dress with Turmeric Tahini Dressing (below).
Turmeric Tahini Dressing
- 1/3 cup tahini
- 6 tablespoons water (add more at the very end if a thinner consistency is desired)
- 2 teaspoons sumac
- 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
- 1 teaspoon paprika powder
- 1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
- Few pinches chilli powder
- Juice 1 lemon
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil, liquid
- Few grinds black pepper
- Blend all ingredients well and enjoy!
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PAUR, I., CARLSEN, M.H., HALVORSEN, B.L., & BLOMHOFF, R. (2011). ANTIOXIDANTS IN HERBS AND SPICES: ROLES IN OX IN I.F.F. BENZIE, & S. WACHTEL-GALOR (EDS). Herbal medicine: Biomolecular and clinical aspects (2ND ED., PP. 37-54). BOCA RATON, FL: CRC PRESS
Smith, J.L., Summers, G., & Wong, R. (2010). Nutrient and heavy metal content of edible seaweeds in New Zealand. New Zealand Journal of Crop and Horticultural Science, 38(1), 19-28.