This Healthy Falafel Loses Nothing In The Flavor Department

Photo: Courtesy of Crunchy Radish.
I first tasted falafel at an NYC institution during my college days, and I remember being transfixed by the crunchy, warm orbs bursting with flavor. Years later, I learned the deep, dark, delicious secret of most falafel balls: immersion into a deep fryer. For a more virtuous spin on traditionally fried falafel, I baked the balls and loaded them with flavorful herbs and aromatic spices. And, I swapped the usual white sauce with a creamy, mint-laced tahini. These baked falafel are the perfect remedy for a gnawing hunger or a painful hangover. 

This recipe makes plenty, and you can repurpose the falafel in various meals; they make a great addition to a salad or a veggie bowl. Or, consider swapping pita bread for some hearty lettuce leaves: Sandwich the falafel in collard greens for a nutrient-rich, gluten-free treat. 

Photo: Courtesy of Crunchy Radish.
Turmeric-Herb Falafel With Mint Tahini
Makes 20 falafel 

For the falafel 
2 tbsp each of cilantro, parsley, and mint leaves
3 scallions, roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
2 cups cooked chickpeas (canned or boxed is fine), rinsed and dried
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp turmeric
1 tbsp sesame seeds
1 tbsp buckwheat flour, brown rice flour, spelt flour, or quinoa flour
1 tsp aluminum-free baking soda
Pinch of salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
Zest of 1 lemon
2 tbsp lemon juice

For the mint tahini
1/2 cup tahini 
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 tsp maple syrup 
1/4 cup filtered water
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tbsp mint, roughly chopped

Garnishes (optional)
Thinly sliced cucumber
Thinly sliced radish
Durable lettuce leaves for wrapping in a sandwich or chopped greens for a salad

1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Line two sheet pans with parchment paper. If you only have one pan, make two batches. 

2. In a food processor, pulse the cilantro, parsley, mint, and scallions. Add garlic and chickpeas, and briefly pulse again. Add spices, sesame seeds, flour, baking soda, salt and pepper, lemon juice, and lemon zest and blend for about 30 seconds, or until mixture is well-combined but not smooth. 

3. Using your hands, roll about 2 tablespoons of chickpea mixture into 20 small balls. Line falafel on sheet pans and bake for 25-30 minutes, flipping halfway through. The balls should be browned and crispy. 

4. While the falafel bakes, whisk together all of the ingredients for the tahini. Taste and adjust per palate preference. For a thinner sauce, add more water; for a more acidic sauce, add more lemon juice. 

5. Top a mixed-green salad with the falafel or place onto durable greens garnished with cucumber, radish, microgreens, and a hearty drizzle of tahini. Falafel will keep for five days in an airtight container. To reheat, place in a toaster oven or conventional oven for five minutes. 

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