‘What is a falafel?’, our travel companion mused as we strolled past our second falafel purveyor in a block in Manhattan’s midtown. For a moment, I wondered if he was joking. Surely everyone had indulged in pita wrapped falafel with tomato, lettuce, and plenty of white & red sauce, whether for a hurried lunch or on the way home from a late night out!
As it turns out, the middle-eastern favorite of vegetarians and time-strapped New Yorkers alike remains new to many. Here, we skip the fryer and introduce you to the recipe for our very favorite healthy variation…baked falafel with hazelnuts.
Falafel are a middle eastern blend of chick peas or fava beans, spices, and herbs, all chopped and coarsely blended, shaped, then baked or fried. Full of protein, falafel are served most traditionally with sauce as an appetizer unto themselves, as part of a middle-eastern mezze platter with hummus, feta, baba ganoush, and lavash, or wrapped in a pita with fresh lettuce and tomato, topped with creamy tahini and spicy sauces.
As with most recipes, proper ingredients will make or break the outcome. Here, tinned chickpeas will add too much water to shape and bake the falafel, so the evening before, cover your dried chickpeas with plenty of water and they will be ready to drain and prepare for your next lunch or dinner.
Fresh cilantro, parsley, and roasted hazelnuts combine with the spices and chickpeas for a unique and truly traveled taste. Whether these are your first falafel or you’re looking for your new go-to recipe, we think these will be your new favorites. Our apologies in advance to all the falafel carts out there…
- 1.5 cups dried chickpeas
- ½ small onion, diced
- 2 cloves crushed garlic
- 1 red chili, finely diced
- 1 tbsp coriander powder
- 1 tbsp cumin powder
- 1 cup cilantro (coriandar) with stems, chopped
- ½ cup parsley leaves, chopped
- ½ cup hazelnuts
- 1 tsp of baking soda
- Soak chickpeas overnight, covered in water. After 8+ hours rinse the chickpeas and dry.
- In a food processor or in a large bowl using a hand mixer, blend the chickpeas and salt into small pieces.
- Add the diced onion, garlic, chili, spices, and herbs.
- Continue to blend the mixture until it holds together, without being a paste.
- Chill for 30 minutes
- Pre-heat the oven to 375 F / 190 C
- Meanwhile, toast the hazelnuts in a pan on medium heat, stirring frequently. Once cool, remove the skins by rubbing the hazelnuts in a clean dishcloth. Roughly crush the hazelnuts with a mortal and pestle, or using a rolling pin.
- Stir the crushed hazelnuts and baking soda into the falafel mixture.
- Oil a baking sheet and use your hands or an ice-cream scoop to make 12 flattened balls.
- Bake for 10-15 minutes on each side, turning carefully.
- Serve as a whole meal in a pita, or create a Mezze Platter with falafel, hummus and other sides.
Our recipe was adapted from New Feast, by Greg and Lucy Malouf. Their modern middle eastern vegetarian cookbook is worth checking out for inspired cooking from far off lands.