Last week, I brought homemade tzatziki to the blog. Just for the heck of it. I somehow managed to strike a fierce tzatziki craving in many of my readers because everyone and their mothers went bananas over it. (No really, some of my friends mom’s commented.)
It only made sense to finish the job and bring you something to slather that glorious tzatziki over: homemade falafel.
The first time I tried falafel it was awful—but that’s because I’d purchased some sort of pre-packaged garbage and didn’t know what I was doing. (Rest assured this was a long, long time ago.) I’m forever grateful that I decided to give it another shot, because now I can’t get enough of the stuff—the herbaceous flavor from the ground fresh herbs, the warming punch from the cumin, and the nutty flavor from that creamy tahini…
The moral of the story: in the name of all that is secular and non-vulgar, don’t ever buy a pre-packaged mix of anything if you know whats good for your tastebuds.
And maybe try a new food elsewhere first, so you at least know what it is you’re aiming for…
Crispy Baked Falafel With Spinach
I’ve always viewed falafel as a healthier choice. Truth is, most restaurants fry it. (Fuhhh… ck.)
Last year, I started baking my eggplant parmesan. I never thought it would be possible to get that wonderful crisp without glistening oil and a frying pan, but with a few hacks, I did it. So why couldn’t I do the same with falafel? Ideally what I wanted to get out of this recipe was a crisped exterior with a tender and moist almost-crumbly-but-not-falling-apart emerald green center.
Tah-dah! I’m happy to say it all worked out—no hacks necessary.
Don’t use canned chickpeas.
I always have a can of chickpeas kicking around my pantry because I’m obsessed with making hummus and, if the craving hits, I need to make it stat. But in researching falafel recipes, I learned a few important things—one of them being that dried chickpeas are crucial to a proper falafel.
Some recipes out there do call for canned chickpeas and the “saving grace” is the use of flour to act as a binding agent, because grinding up cooked chickpeas and frying them will have them falling apart otherwise. But cooked chickpeas + flour = dense and starchy balls. So, your best bet is to give dried chickpeas a good soak overnight and grind them with your other ingredients while they’re raw. (It’s ok, they aren’t dangerous like raw kidney beans.)
If you make this dish, snap a photo and tag me on the Insta @killing__thyme! I love seeing your creations, and you’ll get a chance to be featured in my monthly newsletter.
Crispy Baked Falafel With Spinach
This Crispy Baked Falafel With Spinach recipe skips the frying pan and goes straight to the oven. They're baked to perfection with a crisp exterior while remaining tender within.
- 1 cup dried/uncooked/raw chickpeas soak these overnight, but don't cook them
- 2 TBSP olive oil
- 3 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
- 1/2 cup roughly chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 1 handful baby spinach
- 1/4 tsp cumin
- 1.5 TBSP tahini
- 1.5 TBSP freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1/4 tsp Kosher salt
- A few cranks of cracked black pepper
Set an oven rack in the middle of the oven; preheat to 375° F.
Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper; if you don't have parchment, you can lightly grease the baking sheet with 2-3 TBSP of olive oil.
To a food processor or high-powered blender, add the soaked and drained chickpeas, 2 tablespoons olive oil, garlic, parsley, spinach, cumin, tahini, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Process until smooth. If you're using a high-powered blender as opposed to a food processor, this makes it a bit of a tedious task (I know because this is how I did it). Just be sure to have your accelerator handy to press the ingredients down. You may have to stop every couple of runs and, with a spoon, stir the mixture around. But within 5 minutes, you'll get the texture you're looking for.
With a tablespoon, scoop out some of the mixture and shape the falafel into small patties, about 1 inch wide and 1/4 inch thick. (You can make larger patties if you'd like, but cooking times may vary.) Place each falafel onto your lined or greased baking sheet.
Bake for 10-13 minutes, or until the underside of the falafel patties are a light golden brown. Then, carefully flip the falafel and bake for another 10-13 minutes, or until the falafels are lightly golden on each side.
Though this recipe only takes 30 minutes from start to finish, it calls specifically for dry chickpeas which you have to soak overnight. So take that into consideration when planning this recipe.