Baked Falafel

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Mollie Katzen’s Moosewood Cookbook is one of my favorites from my family’s cookbook collection. My mother found it at a used bookstore and it shows all the signs of a well-loved cookbook. The binding is broken, pages are falling out, and a couple frequently used recipes are caked with remnants of their final product. We should probably just get a new copy, but there’s something about the 1970s hand-written copy of the Moosewood Cookbook that makes it difficult to get rid of. (Or maybe we’re just lazy.)

The book is full of vegetarian recipes. Though I am not a vegetarian, I do take pride in participating in Meatless Mondays (if I don’t forget) and have a secret love for brussel sprouts and asparagus. One of my favorite recipes from the book is falafel. Falafel is described as an Israeli “spicy chickpea croquette.” It’s typically fried, but I opt to bake it for a couple of reasons. (Sometimes it’s spelled “felafel,” but I’m not quite sure which way is right.)

Most falafel recipes call for dried chickpeas, soaked for a couple hours. But I use canned chickpeas out of convenience. The canned chickpeas don’t allow the falafel to hold together very well, so if you try and fry them, you end up with a big mess. Baking the falafel is also healthier.

You can serve falafel in pita pockets or on a salad. Or, just eat them straight-up with a little bit of tzatziki (a yogurt-cucumber sauce) or tahini sauce (sesame paste mixed with lemon and other spices). I like to fill a pita with fresh tomato, cucumber, lettuce, red onion, tzatziki and tahini. Other options for fillings include banana peppers, tabouleh and pickles.

Baked Falafel
Adapted from the Moosewood Cookbook

4 cups (about 2 15-oz cans) chickpeas
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 cup finely minced celery (about 2 stalks)
1/2 cup finely minced yellow onion
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon tumeric
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
2 beaten eggs
3 tablespoons tahini
3 tablespoons fine bread crumbs or flour

  1. In a large bowl, mash the chickpeas. Add the remaining ingredients and chill.
  2. Preheat oven to 375
  3. Shape the mixture into 2-inch patties and roll in flour. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 25-30 minutes, turning the falafel over halfway thorough cooking.
  4. Fill a pita pocket with falafel, onion, tomatoes, tahini and tzatziki (recipes below)

Tzatziki: Mix together
4 oz (1/2 cup) plain Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 clove pressed garlic
1/2 tablespoon fresh dill
2 1/2 tablespoons shredded cucumber with the water removed.

Tahini: Beat or whisk together
3/4 cup tahini paste
3/4 cup yogurt
1 small clove of crushed garlic
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons finely minced parsley
1/4 teaspoon cumin
Dash of each cayenne, paprika and salt
Dash of tamari (optional)

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