Baked falafels

Baked falafels

baked falafels side

Like many of you, I bet, I am a massive fan of falafels. They are the ultimate vegan food, aren’t they? I was introduced to them in my early 20s by an ex-boyfriend who otherwise was a bit of a waste of time, if I am honest, but he did introduce me to some nice foods so maybe there was a point to that relationship after all 😉 .

The only trouble is that I dislike frying things and although I do it occasionally, as you can see by some of the recipes on this blog, I certainly avoid frying things on a regular basis. Other than the health aspect, I also intensely dislike the clean-up, especially the perennial dilemma of what to do with the leftover oil. I do try to reuse it a few times but it’s tricky as you need to stick to one particular type of food (onion bhajis do not mix well with doughnuts, for example 😉 ). Even then there comes a time when you need to dispose of it and unless you own a restaurant and use up large amounts of oil that is always a tricky bit and pouring it down the drain is not the done thing.

So while I think that the best falafels are certainly fried falafels I wanted to come up with something that has similar flavours, but is much healthier and can be enjoyed on a regular basis. These green guys came out surprisingly well and I say ‘surprisingly’ because this (and another) recipe nearly broke me last week. After a few ‘meh’ outcomes, I was so down on myself, feeling like I cannot cook, I’m good for nothing, I may as well chuck the whole thing in as no one is going to want to eat anything I come up with. With some perspective and a good outcome under my belt, it sounds overly dramatic but that’s where a negative thinking spiral can certainly take you.

This is what this year has been about for me personally – a fight against the negative thinking that has been sapping the joy out of my life for way too long now without me realising. I used to call myself a realist and thought that being hard on myself and anticipating negative outcomes was on some level protective, but now I realise that my brain was simply poisoned and that I developed unhealthy thinking and behavioural patterns to cope with the punitive atmosphere of my childhood home.

Eradicating these false beliefs about myself and the world around me at midlife is super hard, but it’s certainly worth doing. This is not who I am, it’s a legacy that was ‘given’ to me from an early age and I, with no choice in the matter, absorbed it all like a sponge and it continued to slowly poison everything in my life from the inside until now. Enough is enough and so I am working hard on catching my internal monologue and picking apart all the toxicity that makes me not want to get up in the morning….It’s one of the hardest things I have ever done and I still have some serious slip-ups, but seeing and admitting the truth to yourself is half the battle. Plus, I always have Duncan trying to show me some perspective and steer me away from self-flagellation and I really appreciate him, always but especially then. He is a fun loving person that may appear silly at times, but has a lot of life wisdom to impart and I treasure that quality in him immensely.

So after I dusted myself off, it took a few more tries and many tweaks but I did nail this recipe eventually and I am really happy with the end result. These falafels are not only easy to make, fragrant with herbs and spices but they are a little crispy on the outside and moist on the inside – something I was so hell-bent on achieving as my main issue with baked falafels is that they are cardboard dry. Like in my previous baked falafel recipes, I once again decided to use soaked raw chickpeas, but I have also done some testing with cooked chickpeas if that’s all you have. The trick that allowed me to keep these guys nice and moist on the inside is the addition of a courgette, which, while it contributes no taste, improves the texture of these falafels considerably, plus it allows you to sneak some more vegetables into little people if you happen to have to feed any. I know from friends with kids that they can be incredibly tricky to feed green stuff to. Well, I hope you’ll enjoy these, especially that they have been a true labour of love. Have a great rest of the week!

baked falafels ingredients

baked falafels mixture

baked falafels shaped

baked falafels tray

baked falafels lunch

makes
18-20
PREP
20 min
COOKING
24 min
makes
18-20
PREPARATION
20 min
COOKING
24 min
INGREDIENTS
  • 150 g / 1 cup soaked overnight chickpeas*
  • 2 tbsp ground flax or chia seeds
  • 30 g / ½ packed cup chopped fresh spinach
  • 200 g / 7 oz courgette / zucchini, roughly chopped
  • ½ large onion (I used red), roughly chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • a large handful of coriander
  • a large handful of parsley
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • ¾ tsp salt, more to taste
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • 1½ tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • chilli flakes to taste (optional)
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 35 g / 4 tbsp rice flour**
  • olive oil
  • sesame seeds, to coat (optional)
METHOD
  1. If using dried chickpeas (which is my recommendation) soak approximately ½ cup of dried chickpeas in plenty of cold water – they will expand, to at least twice their size, so make sure they are well covered. Soak for a minimum of 12 hrs and 24 hrs if possible. I like to soak 2 cups of dried chickpeas and cook the rest for a stew or curry.
  2. Place 150 g / 1 cup of drained chickpeas, ground flax (or chia seeds), spinach (discard fibrous stems if present as they add a bitter taste), courgette / zucchini, onion, garlic, herbs, lemon zest, salt, pepper, cumin, coriander, chilli flakes (if using), baking powder and rice flour in a food processor. Process until uniformly and finely chopped.
  3. Transfer the the mixture to a mixing bowl and set aside in the fridge for 10-15 minutes.
  4. Preheat the oven to 200° C / 390° F fan (220° C / 425° F if you don’t have a fan setting) and line a large baking tray with a sheet of greaseproof paper.
  5. Brush small circles of olive oil onto the baking paper at regular intervals, keeping ample space around each falafel so that the browning process isn’t inhibited through too much moisture.
  6. Using your hands, form small patties (4 tsp worth / 28 g each) with your hands or using a small ice-cream scoop. Mine were 1.5 cm / 0.6″ tall and 4 cm / 1.6″ across. The mixture will be very wet at this stage so handle it gently, but don’t be tempted to add more flour – it will make falafels dry. Apply some sesame seeds to the underside of each falafel with your hand before placing it on the oiled area of your baking paper. Sprinkle the top with more sesame seeds.
  7. Bake for 12 minutes. Take the tray out of the oven, gently lift each falafel off the surface using a spatula. Brush a little oil on before placing the other side of the falafels down. Brush the tops with some more olive oil for extra crispiness and bake for another 12-13 minutes until the tops are golden brown.

NOTES

*I have tested these with cooked chickpeas too if you cannot get hold of dry chickpeas. I personally prefer the ones made with soaked (uncooked) chickpeas but cooked ones are certainly an option. If you do that please use 300 g / 1½ cups of chickpeas in place of the soaked ones.

**I have not tested any other flours, but I am pretty confident that chickpea flour or all purpose wheat flour will work also.

This recipe is based on my previous falafel recipes: this one, this one and that one.

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NUTRITIONAL INFO
calories
55
3%
sugars
1 g
1%
fats
2 g
2%
saturates
0 g
1%
proteins
2 g
5%
carbs
8 g
3%
*per falafel
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5.0
10 reviews, 18 comments
REVIEWS & QUESTIONS
Lucy Daniel:
Great recipe Ania! This is definitely healthy and easy to make. Negative thinking has sapped us all, as these are some unprecedented circumstances. However, cooking is a great antidote to stress and I am happy you are creating such amazing dishes and sharing your recipes with the world.
    Ania
    Ania:
    Aw, thank you for your kind words, Lucy! You are right it's been such testing year for everyone's mental health. I am happy that you enjoyed these and happy to be able to make a difference to people's meals with my creations. x Ania
Janet:
Heavenly! I had no zucchini, so I subbed cooked white sweet potato. Baked in the airfryer at 400 for 10 minutes each side. Best falafel I've ever made - thank you!
    Ania
    Ania:
    Aw, thank you so much Janet! I'm delighted that you enjoyed these so much and good thinking on the substitution! Thanks so much for taking the time to review - much appreciated. x Ania
Carla:
Absolutely amazing recipe. We had a Middle Eastern inspired dinner the other week and the falafels were so flavourful and tasted divine . I will make these again- guaranteed! Thank you for all the beautiful recipes and food photos.
    Ania
    Ania:
    Hi Carla,
    Thanks so much, I am delighted to hear that you enjoyed this recipe so much, especially that it was a true labour of love (it took so many goes before I was happy). Thanks so much for taking the time to leave a review - I really appreciate it! x Ania
Magda:
They were absolutely delicious and very easy to make! I love the fact that they don't need to be fried. Will be making them again (double batch!).
    Ania
    Ania:
    Thank you so much for your kind feedback, Magda! I'm delighted to hear that you enjoyed these and plan to make again. x Ania
Mae:
I have made these yesterday, they were just perfect! Crisp and moist, super tasty :-)
I did not have courgette so used a quite dry apple, and added a bit of aquafaba to make up for the lost moisture.
I had already cooked the chickpeas, so followed your guidance on adjusting the quantity and they turned out great.
Thank you ! x
    Ania
    Ania:
    Thanks so much for your lovely feedback, Mae! I'm delighted to hear that you enjoyed these and thank you for taking the time to review - much appreciated! x Ania
Dyse:
Soo delicious and stay healthy!!
It's great recipess, thanks for sharing this Ania :)
    Ania
    Ania:
    Thank you, glad you liked it! x Ania
Basia:
Hi Ania,
Thank you for your suggestions, they were very helpful! I made these today and had to do a lot of substitutions because I noticed midway through that I was missing a few ingredients. So I subbed apples for courgette, defrosted kale for spinach, fennel leaves for coriander, added a dash of Chinese 5 spice and it turned out so delicious... and *moist* on the inside. I couldn't really taste the apple btw. Thank you for the recipe, I hope I'll be able to make it with courgette in the future - Basia xx
    Ania
    Ania:
    Glad to hear they came out well, Basia! Extra points for creativity ;) x Ania
Cerne Felstead:
These look lovely and I've just got a new food processor so perfect timing to try it out! Can I ask what is the dressing you drizzled on top of the falafel in the photo? Thanks.
    Ania
    Ania:
    Great timing indeed, I'm sure your new machine will make short work of it! I hope you'll enjoy them! It's a simple tahini lemon sauce like this. Hope this helps! Ania
Barbara:
Hi Ania, I hope you are feeling better this week - I'm super excited to make these as they are pretty much oil-free! I also *hate* frying.
One question, is there anything I can sub the courgette with...? With the lockdown in the UK I kind of want to avoid grocery shopping as much as I can... Courgettes have a mushy texture when cooked so I was thinking apples, sauteed carrots, maybe green peas...? What are your thoughts? If not possible, I was thinking of revisiting your sweet potato falafel recipe which I haven't made in a while and I remember being super obsessed with them :)
Thanks,
Basia x
    Ania
    Ania:
    Hi Basia,
    Yes, I'm feeling much better, thank you :) I have not tried but I would say carrots (or grated broccoli stems is another idea) and a touch of lemon juice (1-2 tbsp) and maybe an extra tablespoon of water or oil. Courgettes have quite a lot higher water content than carrots. A less sweet apple could work nicely too but it will affect the flavour a little - it could be in a good way. Basically you want the mixture really quite wet when shaping - this ensures that the raw chickpeas get cooked through yet the inside stays moist after baking. Hope this helps! Ania
Mandy:
Can these be frozen?
    Ania
    Ania:
    Hi Mandy,
    Sure, but I would advise freezing the mixture or, better still, shaped falafels rather than already baked ones (however that will work too). Hope this helps! Ania
Helen:
Will have to try these. I made some horrendously dry baked falafel earlier in the week - the struggle is real!
    Ania
    Ania:
    Hahaha, totally, is really is! Hope you'll enjoyed these! Ania
Sapphire Carver:
These look delicious, I've been searching for a perfectly moist falafel recipe for a while now, can't wait to try these out!
    Ania
    Ania:
    Hi Sapphire,
    That's great, I hope you'll enjoy these! Ania
Naomi:
Your recipes are always delicious, healthy and spot on! That said, this post really spoke to me and I appreciate your insight and willingness to be vulnerable.
Love, light, and laughter!
Xx
    Ania
    Ania:
    Aw, thanks so much for your kind words, Naomi! I am sorry to hear that you have some experience of what I was talking about, but it is also comforting to know that you are not alone, isn't it? Sending you warm hugs! xx Ania
Tomasz Marcinowski:
My fav!
    Ania
    Ania:
    Glad to hear! Hope they will hit the spot ;) x Ania
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