Baked Falafel

May 11, 2011

In celebration of National Mediterranean Diet Month, here is the first of two Mediterranean-inspired recipes from Nutritioulicious intern Jo Bartell.

I have always loved falafel. Lucky for me there is no shortage of delicious, crispy falafel at the various Middle Eastern restaurants and falafel stands scattered throughout New York City. For those of you who are not familiar with this delicious food, Falafel is a ball or patty made of ground chickpeas. Falafel can be eaten alone as a snack, but it is often served in a pita pocket topped with vegetables and different sauces such as hummus or a yogurt sauce called tzatziki. The main ingredient of falafel is chickpeas, which makes the falafel high in protein, complex carbohydrates, and fiber. This combination of nutrients creates a healthy, satisfying meal component.

The problem with falafel from a nutritional standpoint is that it is usually deep-fried in oil. This cooking method turns a healthy dish into a less healthy version filled with saturated fat and cholesterol. Luckily, I found a great recipe for baked falafel I want to share. It is easy to make and definitely nutritioulicious!

Baked Falafel Balls (adapted from www.food.com)
Serves: 8; Serving Size: 4 falafel balls

Ingredients: baked falafel recipe
  • ¾ cup water
  • ½ cup bulgar wheat
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra as needed for brushing
  • 1 red onion, finely minced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 ½ cups cooked chickpeas
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1 ¼ teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1¼ teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 ½ tablespoons lemon juice
  • ¼ cup plus 2 teaspoons whole-wheat breadcrumbs*
  • ¼ cup minced cilantro
  • ¼ cup minced parsley

*Note: You can substitute Panko Breadcrumbs for the whole-wheat breadcrumbs.

Directions: 
  1. Bring water to a boil and remove from the heat. Mix in the bulgur. Cover and allow the wheat to sit until all the water is absorbed — about 20 minutes.
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a small pan and sauté the onion and garlic over medium heat until the onion is just transparent.
  3. Add chickpeas, red chili flakes, salt, cumin, and coriander to the pan and sauté for 1 minute more. Combine the chickpea mixture and bulgur in a food processor.
  4. Add the lemon juice, breadcrumbs, cilantro, and parsley and process until just mixed and the mixture has a grainy texture. Set mixture aside for 15 minutes.
  5. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  6. Form falafel mixture into 1-inch balls and place on a lightly oiled sheet pan. Brush the balls with olive oil. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until golden, turning the pan once during baking.
Nutrition Facts (per serving): 110 calories, 3.5 g total fat (0 g saturated fat), 17 g carbohydrate, 4 g fiber, 4 g protein, 173 mg sodium

Do you like falafel? Have you ever made it at home?

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  1. I love falafel. I haven’t made them at home ever though. They are one of the best street foods I love to have when I visit y family in Jordan. My mother-in-law makes them from scratch. I don’t think she uses wheat, but uses chickpeas and fava beans. I also think she soaks the beans and then grinds them raw. I want to try your recipe and see how it tastes!

    1. It’s always delicious from the street vendors – one of my favorite things to get in Israel! Curious to know what you think if you try these!