Vegan, Gluten-Free Baked Falafel is a scrumptious healthy version of traditional classic falafel. Spinach leaves were added to boost their nutritional value. Baked falafel is so tasty you won’t miss the fried version.
When we lived in Virginia, there were a few places in Fredericksburg that sold the best falafel ever, one, in particular, Smyrna Meditteranean Cafe, the owner used the olive oil that was imported from his family farm back in Greece. The local hospital would send their cardiac patients to his restaurant. I bought his olive oil and it was so fruity and delicious, none like I had tasted before.
At the time time, I never thought about making my own but as time moved on I wanted to recreate the same flavorful falafel and I believe that this recipe is amazing. The only difference, I used canned chickpeas, gluten-free flour and I added spinach.
What is Falafel? How is it made?
It originated from Egypt before spreading to the Middle East. It became a popular street food there, then spread worldwide because of its versatility, and is now very popular as a substitute for other unhealthy street and fast food. Nowadays through migration, falafel is found here in the USA and in Europe.
In some countries like Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, and Israel falafel balls may be topped with hummus, tahini sauce, and amba sauce. They are often served in lava bread (which is similar to a tortilla) along with salad greens and tomato slices. Falafel can also be eaten alone as a snack or served as part of a meze platter.
It is common for falafel to be eaten alongside fried eggplant and/or fresh vegetables such as hummus, and tabouli salad.
- Chickpeas – I used can however if you are using dried chickpeas. Sort and soak chickpeas for at least 8 hours. Drain and rinse. Add chickpeas, cover with about 4 inches of water above the chickpeas. Bring to a boil. reduce heat to simmer for 1 1/2 – 2 hours. See More How To Cook Chickpeas.
- Garlic – adds flavor
- Parsley and Cilantro Leaves – I love the flavor combo of parsley and cilantro, you can use both or your favorite herb here.
- Spinach leaves – added for an extra boost of nutrients.
- Spices – cumin, paprika, cayenne are sure to pack a flavor punch.
- Sea salt – or Kosher salt.
- Gluten-free flour – added to hold the batter together. If you are gluten-free any gluten-free flour can be used or substitute all-purpose flour.
- Olive oil – for spraying or brushing on the patties
How To Make Falafel
– Preheat oven to 400F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper
– Place the drained chickpeas in a large mixing bowl and mash well using a fork or your hands. You may use hands to have an even smoother texture for this recipe. You can also use a food processor if you want, but make sure you don’t over-process them or they’ll become too moist. The optimal consistency should be when you can form small patties out of them easily.
– To the mashed up chickpea add chopped onion, garlic, parsley, cilantro, spinach, spices (including salt), flour and olive oil. Mix well until thoroughly combined then let it rest for 10 minutes to allow gluten-free flour to absorb some of the moisture of the veggies.
– Use a 1/4 measure to portion out the mixture and form it into patties using your hands, then place on a baking sheet. Bake for 25 minutes total, flipping falafels over after 15 minutes. Serve with your favorite sauces or condiments. For me this time around I chose tahini sauce and hot sauce! YUM!
Condiments with Falafel:
– Tahini sauce: 1/4 cup tahini, 1 clove garlic, finely chopped, and 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste. Add hot water little by little until it becomes a smooth and creamy consistency.
– Lemon garlic dressing: 2 teaspoons lemon juice, 1 clove garlic finely minced into a paste and 4 teaspoons olive oil. Blend all the ingredients together.
-Garlic Mayo dressing: Mash 3 cloves of roasted garlic and 2 teaspoons of dried basil leaves with a fork. Add salt to taste. Mix basil garlic pastes with 1/4 cup vegan mayo and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Blend really well until smooth then add more oil if needed.
Variations for falafel:
– Pineapple curry falafel: Add 1 tablespoon each of curry powder, dried basil leaves, and dried oregano leaves to the mixture.
– Italian-inspired falafel: Add 2 tablespoons of fresh chopped thyme, 2 teaspoons dried oregano, 1 teaspoon fennel seeds, 1 teaspoon garlic powder. Yum!
– Spicy falafel with poblano pepper: Add half a diced-up poblano pepper with the onion.
-Falafel sliders are also really good! Just form small patties instead of larger ones.
Falafel Shawarma Sandwich is also a great way to enjoy the falafel patties. Drizzle some garlic sauce in a warm tortilla, add cooked falafel patty and any veggies you like such as lettuce or cucumber then roll the tortilla into a wrap!
Traditional falafel is deep-fried in oil, which obviously not good for anyone who wishes to maintain a low-fat diet. However, there are many healthy falafel recipes that can be prepared without the use of cooking oil. This baked version is tasty, moist, and very satisfying on its own, or stuffed inside a sandwich bread or pita bread!
Other Vegan Chickpea Recipes To Prepare
- Vegan Chickpea Salad
- Vegan Chickpea Stew
- Jamaican Chickpea Curry
- Chickpea Shepherd’s Pie
- Eggplant Chickpea Stew
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- Energy: 289 kcal / 1208 kJ
- Fat: 11 g
- Protein: 12 g
- Carbs: 38 g
- Preparation: 10 min
- Cooking: 30 min
- Ready in: 40 min
- For: 8 falafels
- 1 15 ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1/2 cup fresh parsley leaves, chopped
- 1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
- 1 cup spinach leaves, loosely packed
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon Cayenne pepper, (optional)
- 1 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
- 1/2 cup all purpose gluten-free flour
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
- Line baking sheet with parchment paper, grease or spray with oil, and set aside.
- Place chickpeas, onion, garlic, parsley, cilantro, spinach, cumin, paprika, cayenne and salt in a food processor.
- Pulse until well blended. Add gluten-free flour and pulse.
- Transfer mixture to a large bowl and form into a large ball.
- Take pieces and shape into balls and then flatten to 1/2 inch thickness.
- Place patties on baking sheet, brush with oil.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes, turning halfway or until golden brown.
- Delicious served with tahini sauce, recipe below!
- Combine tahini, lemon juice, garlic, water, allspice and salt in a bowl, stirring to form a thick creamy sauce. Refrigerate until ready to serve.