Baked falafel bowls

Baked falafel bowls

This post was created in partnership with North American Pulses.


When we were visiting Stockholm last summer, there was a Levantine restaurant located just two blocks from our Airbnb. We ate there three times in five days, I think. And although we really wanted to try Falafelbaren – the place that came highly recommended from two of my favorite (Stockholm-based) food bloggers, David and Luise – we just couldn’t quit the convenience of the falafel-slinging establishment that was literally a two minute walk away (ok, three if you count the time it took us to race down five flights of stairs). While the falafel itself wasn’t anything worth writing home about, the restaurant had the dreamiest of mini-salad bars that took my giant plate of hummus and deep-fried falafel up about five notches.. and was the main reason I kept dragging Thom back for more.

As a long time lover of bowl food, I knew I had to recreate a bowl version when I got back home. And so I did. For nearly a year I made the recipe with store bought falafel because, you know, falafel making isn’t exactly my forte. Case in point: the first time I tried to tackle falafel I used canned chickpeas. CANNED CHICKPEAS. Thanks to Wikipedia, I quickly learned that is not how you make falafel. And because the canned chickpea incident made me temporarily suspicious of the credibility of the internet (there’s a boatload of misinformation out there, you guys) (but there’s also a lot of useful stuff, too), I called up the falafel guru at my favorite Mediterranean restaurant to get some real deal tips on making truly authentic falafel.

Use clean oil, he advised. For frying? I asked. It took me a few seconds to muster up the courage to admit that I’d be baking it but, when I finally did, he cut me off mid-sentence and sighed, Child, please don’t concern yourself with fat. I laughed. And before I could inform him that 1) I’m 28 years old and 2) it’s not the fat I’m concerned about but the at-home deep frying (there’s a 96.2% chance I would set our new kitchen ablaze), he carried on and told me to use soaked beans. Soak them for 24 hours in the refrigerator, no more no less. Use purified water. AND FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THINGS SACRED DO NOT USE CANNED BEANS. (Heh.) He then proceeded to ramble on about the importance of using good quality dry beans. I only half understood what he was saying because he was speaking at a rate of about 500 words per minute but OK! Noted. The best quality dry beans, it is. Be liberal with the herbs and spices but keep it simple, he continued. Use fresh herbs, if you can. At the end of the call he gave me the green light to bake the falafel, but told me I should fry a couple just to see what you’re missing.

Less than 36 hours and a pound of dry chickpeas later, I had mastered the art of baked falafel (and 12 hours after that, I had mastered the art of eating baked falafel).

By now I’m sure you’re all well aware that 2016 is the International Year of Pulses.. right? And you’ve all taken the Pulse Pledge and are keeping good on your commitment to eat pulses once a week.. right? Although it probably seems like I’m beating a dead horse (SORRY!), I cannot stress enough the importance of incorporating protein-rich pulses into your diet – especially if you’re someone who abstains from eating animal-derived sources of protein – because protein plays a number of critical roles in our bodies. In the event you have no idea how much protein you need, some really smart humans spent a lot of time researching adequate protein intake and discovered that the average human needs 0.36 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight, per day. Lucky for you, pulses pack a lot of protein. So eat your beans, dry peas, lentils, and chickpeas, and next time someone asks you that very annoying BUT WHERE DO YOU GET YOUR PROTEIN??? question, you can respond with two simple words: PULSES, BRO.

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Notes: This recipe requires a bit of work/forward-thinking on your part, but if you’d rather use store bought falafel.. no judgement here. ;) I’m a big fan of loading up on all the toppings, but feel free to make this bowl your own and customize as needed. If you’re extra hungry (or feeding a hungry crowd), pair the bowls with some tabbouleh.

This post is sponsored by North American Pulses. All opinions are my own, and I think we all should be eating more pulses because they’re good for ya (and – BONUS! – they’re good for the environment, too).

BAKED FALAFEL BOWLS

Your favorite greens, roughly chopped
Shredded beets
Shredded carrots
Olives
, pitted
Sliced baby cucumbers
Pickled gherkins
Cherry tomatoes

Sprouted (chickpea) hummus

Baked falafel, recipe follows
Sara’s tahini sauce
A wedge of lemon (for each bowl)
Fresh herbs (parsley, cilantro, etc.)
Sesame seeds

Divide the greens between bowls and top with all the veggies. Add a scoop of hummus (go big or go home) and a few pieces of falafel. Drizzle with tahini sauce (be liberal with it) then finish with a squeeze of lemon juice, fresh herbs, and sesame seeds. Eat immediately, preferably with a side of warm pita bread.

Yield: Enough falafel to make 4-6 bowls

Falafel balls

Notes: I really wanted to use equal parts chickpeas + fava beans, but I couldn’t track down the fava variety so I settled on straight up chickpeas. Though if you try this recipe with fava beans, I’d love to know how it turns out. If you find your falafel mixture a bit on the wet side, add some chickpea flour – one tablespoon at a time – until the desired consistency is reached (heads up, the mixture should be slightly wet). This recipe packs just a little bit of heat so if you don’t like anything on the spicy side, omit the cayenne pepper.

BAKED FALAFEL

1 cup dry chickpeas, soaked for 24 hours in the refrigerator
1 small yellow onion, cut in half
3-4 garlic cloves, peeled
Zest of one lemon, optional
1/2 cup packed fresh parsley (stems and all)
1/4 cup packed fresh cilantro (stems and all)
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander 

1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
Heavy pinch of sea salt flakes
1-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
, for brushing

Preheat oven to 400˚F. Line a small baking sheet with a silicone mat or parchment paper; set aside. Drain the water from the chickpeas then add them to the base of a food processor fitted with the S blade, along with the remaining ingredients (hold off on the oil, that’s for brushing the falafel at the end). Process mixture until paste-like (but still slightly chunky), scraping down the sides as needed (this shouldn’t take more than two minutes). Using a 1 1/2 tablespoon scoop, drop the falafel mixture onto the prepared baking sheet and roll into round balls. Brush with oil then bake at 400˚F for 20-22 minutes. Allow falafel to cool on baking sheet then transfer to an air tight container and refrigerate for up to one week. Reheat as needed.

Yield: 24 falafel

Baked falafel bowls

33 Comments

  • Reply Abby @ Heart of a Baker 27 July 2016 at 7:17 AM

    Sooo you’re telling me that all the times I made falafel with a paste of canned chickpeas I was WRONG?! :) I knew there was something wrong with those. These are incredible looking and the topping just make it!

  • Reply Hannah 27 July 2016 at 8:25 AM

    I have been dying for these bowls since you posted them on Instagram. Can’t wait to make them this weekend! Also, I recently opted for dried chickpeas instead of canned solely because a) they’re cheaper and b) they create less waste. I couldn’t believe just how much better they are!! I’m officially a convert.

    • Reply Ashlae 7 August 2016 at 5:49 PM

      Hi Hanna –

      So happy to hear that! Dried pulses are the way to go. <3

  • Reply Janine 27 July 2016 at 8:46 AM

    I really love to bake my Falafel in the oven as well. To Combine it with shreddered beets and carrots it’s such a great idea. The Food Pictures are amazing.

  • Reply valentina | sweet kabocha 27 July 2016 at 8:46 AM

    My boyfriend loves falafels – who doesn’t? – and you remind me that it’s so easy. Oh yes, but I don’t own a food processor and I’m sure the Vitamix would make it way too smooth -_-
    anyway, amazing bowl!

  • Reply J.S. @ Sun Diego Eats 27 July 2016 at 9:54 AM

    i didn’t know about the canned chickpeas thing either!!! glad you did some research for a legit falafel recipe, i will definitely try to bake these (no frying for me too since the tempura incident of 2011…).

  • Reply Heather 27 July 2016 at 10:26 AM

    Falafel isn’t made with canned chickpeas? You are blowing my mind right now.

  • Reply HL 27 July 2016 at 12:27 PM

    I love, love, love chickpeas. Buuuut, if I have a bag of dried black beans in my drawer that’s been staring at me for the past two months, would that be absolutely blasphemous to use instead?

    • Reply Ashlae 7 August 2016 at 5:50 PM

      Hi HL –

      I definitely won’t judge if you wanna march to the beat of your own drum, girrrrrl. ;)

  • Reply Lauren 27 July 2016 at 1:49 PM

    Yum!! I’d love to make a big batch of these and keep them frozen for easy and fillings salads. Do you think they’d freeze well? Before or after baking? xoxo

    • Reply Ashlae 7 August 2016 at 5:51 PM

      Hi Lauren –

      I haven’t tried freezing them but I’d definitely freeze them after baking then let them thaw in the fridge overnight.

  • Reply Emily 27 July 2016 at 3:52 PM

    I cannot wait to make these. I haven’t EVER posted a comment on a blog before, but these look so tempting after so, so many baked falafel fails that I had to. These look so delicious and you ripped my problem wide open with the no canned chickpeas. Thanks!

  • Reply Kathryn 27 July 2016 at 4:13 PM

    You always have the dreamiest light!

  • Reply Harry 27 July 2016 at 4:36 PM

    I’m a fan of bowl dishes as well! Your phone conversation sounded hilarious. I’m sure there probably is a difference in baking and frying them up but really if you can bake it why not go that route instead? The meal looked really yummy!

    -Harry

  • Reply Amber 27 July 2016 at 4:54 PM

    Ashlae this looks so good! I have been meaning to give the homemade falafel thing a try for a while now too, but we also have half decent frozen ones available and a seriously good falafel place up the road! But you have inspired me, I’m going to do it! And I love falafel even more in a bowl, for sure! Friday night falafel a here we come!!

  • Reply Erica 27 July 2016 at 6:17 PM

    Falafel. Hummus. Pita. Gherkins.
    I’m in love.
    Will try ASAP.

  • Reply Maya | Spice + Sprout 27 July 2016 at 6:18 PM

    I am so stoked to try these! I have to admit, I have also tried to make falafel with canned chickpeas, but I never made the connection as to why they weren’t working out the way I wanted them. So THANK YOU! :)

  • Reply Rachel Appleby 28 July 2016 at 4:06 AM

    haha, very much enjoyed reading this. Falafel fails are the worst kind of fail. So pasty!
    I’ve been very much in love with this recipe:
    http://theviewfromgreatisland.com/the-best-falafel/
    it’s very similar to yours, with just a few tweeks, the addition of lemon is really good, give it a try :) x

  • Reply Marissa @ In My Yellow Cardigan 28 July 2016 at 5:19 AM

    I’m not even into falafel like that but this is piquing my curiosity enough to try them again. This looks amazing!

  • Reply Julia @ Sprinkles & Saturdays 28 July 2016 at 8:47 AM

    Falafel is one of my all time favorites! I love what you’ve paired them with here and love the idea of eating it out of a bowl instead of a wrap!

  • Reply Mariana varela 28 July 2016 at 9:04 AM

    These bowls are such a great idea! Particularly with the tabboule, they make a great meal! Id just add some avocado (because im mexican :) ha )

  • Reply Annaliese 28 July 2016 at 10:11 AM

    Niiiiice! This whole situation sounds delicious right now. Baked falafel bowl >>>> packing boxes and moving. Fuck. Will be making this for sure at our new place!!

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  • Reply Abby | Lace & Lilacs 31 July 2016 at 6:29 AM

    Okay, these look delicious!

  • Reply Jennifer 1 August 2016 at 1:45 PM

    I remember hearing about how your not suppose to cook the chickpeas for authentic falafels, but I’ve always taken the lazy route of canned chickpeas. I’ve always looked at it as a step up from my father who would use powder mixes. Yuck.

    • Reply Ashlae 7 August 2016 at 5:53 PM

      Hi Jennifer –

      OMG. Powder?! Yuck is right. Canned chickpeas are deeeefinitely a step up but you really do need to try making falafel with the dry variety.. at least once. ;)

  • Reply Lyndsay // Coco Cake Land 4 August 2016 at 9:45 AM

    BOWL FOOD! XO (these look amazing.)

  • Reply Maria @ Gather_TheBlog 6 August 2016 at 10:41 AM

    Oh, I so love these! I am going to have to try them this week especially since I have never had falafels. These look so yummy!

  • Reply sara forte 15 August 2016 at 3:50 PM

    My most favorite meal ever and flattered you used my dressing xo. I WILL be making this this week. I also always bake them because i hate the smell of frying food – doesn’t matter what it is. Your photos are looking so snazzy lately, little miss.

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  • Reply Shilpa 24 August 2016 at 8:02 AM

    Oh this was so tasty. Perfect for dinner and just enough for leftovers for lunch. Easy, tasty summer meal.✔

  • Reply Andrea 5 February 2017 at 7:57 AM

    I’ve made this multiple times and it’s a winner! Thank you! I no longer even search for other recipes, it’s my go to now. Apart from the soaking which requires a bit of planning, everything comes together super quick with enough leftovers for lunch the next day. I serve it with vegan tzaziki and green cilantro sauce from another favorite blogger of mine. Try it, you’ll love it.

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