If it's an herb, and it's green, you might as well throw a couple of handfuls into these homemade falafels.
The copious amounts of herbs in these falafels have earned them a "Green Goddess" title.
It all starts with the good ol' classic chickpea base and then we add parsley, cilantro, mint, and oregano until the flavor reaches diva levels.
In fact, each cup of chickpeas is matched with a cup of herbs. Add in a little garlic, cumin and chilies, and we have full bodied (pun intended), very green goddess falafels.
Baking them in the oven gives them a nice bronze-statuesque finish. Parchment paper is a must - without it, they stick to the pan, no matter how much you oil it or how early you flip it (I've tried!)
You'll want a food processor to make these falafels. A 7-cup capacity bowl will just fit the amount for this recipe. The recipe has specific instructions on how to make sure everything fits and gets fully processed.
And as long as your store the herbs properly (see the question section below), you can keep the ingredients on hand to make any time in the next 2-3 weeks.
- 1 ½ cups fresh parsley
- 1 cup fresh cilantro
- ¼ cup fresh mint
- ¼ cup fresh oregano
- 4 cloves garlic
- ½ cup red onion
- 1 Serrano chile
- 8 oz dried chickpeas
- 3 Tbs whole wheat flour
- 1 ½ tsp baking powder
- 1 Tbs fresh lemon juice
- 1 Tbs olive oil
- 1 ½ tsp sea salt
- 1 ½ tsp cumin
PLAN AHEAD - IN THE MORNING
- Soak the chickpeas in water. 3 cups is about ½ of a 16 oz bag of dried chickpeas.
- - Preheat your oven to 425.
- - As you prep the ingredients below, toss them in the food processor bowl to make room on your cutting board.
- - Remove any woody stems from parsley and cilantro (if they are tender and tasty, leave them whole).
- - Separate the mint and oregano leaves from the stems
- - Peel the garlic
- - Quarter the onion
- - Slice the Serrano chile in half and remove the seeds
- - NOTE: if making the tahini dressing, zest the lemon & set the zest aside for tahini.
- - Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (required or they will stick)
- Put the herbs, garlic, onion and chile into the food processor if they aren't in there already. Pulse until chopped and reduced in volume (so there is room to add the chickpeas). Then drain the chickpeas and add them to them to the food processor along with all remaining ingredients. Process until it looks like a course paste (to me it looks like ground up seashells). Do not remove from food processor yet.
- Form a scoop of the mixture into a golf ball sized ball. If it doesn't stick together, add a little more flour and pulse it a few times.
FORM INTO BALLS / PATTIES
- Form into golf ball sized balls. Flatten into patties if you prefer (patties will brown better on both sides). Place 2" apart on baking sheet lined with parchment paper. (If freezing, stop here and freeze uncooked falafels).
BAKE FOR 15-20 MIN
- Flip half way through. Remove from oven and serve.
- ½ cup tahini
- 2 Tbs olive oil
- 2 Tbs orange juice fresh squeezed*
- 2 Tbs water
- 1 tsp maple syrup
- 1 clove garlic grated on a microplane
- zest from 1 lemon
- pinch of salt
- pinch of pepper
- pinch of cayenne
WHISK & TASTE
- Whisk all ingredients together. Taste it. If it needs more salt or maple syrup (or anything else), add it. If you want to thin it down, add more water or juice. I usually end up adding another tsp of maple syrup and another pinch of cayenne. In the end, it should taste good TO YOU!
- It can also be made ahead of time and keeps well for a few days.
Notes for homemade falafels
While making falafels from scratch does take some time and a food processor, it's pretty easy. That being said, you might still have some questions (I know I did when I first made them)...
- Pan fry vs bake - These get crispy in the oven with almost no extra oil. However, the original recipe from Gimme Some Oven claims to have found a way to fry them in just a little bit of oil. I haven't been able to replicate that, despite my best efforts and numerous attempts (they just soak it up, get a bit soggy, and never crisp, even with really hot oil). I encourage you to try it with a few falafels, though, and if you succeed, tell me your secret!
- Canned vs dried chickpeas - Dried chickpeas have a better taste and texture that is preferable in fresh salads, but it isn't hugely noticeable in this recipe. 8 ounces of dried chickpeas turns into about 3 cups after they are soaked. You can sub in canned chickpeas.
- What happens if I overprocess it in the food processor? Honestly, I processed, and then processed some more and they were still fine. I haven't been able to over process them. I mean, it might happen if you leave it on for 5 minutes and walk away, but anything short of that seems to not affect the final outcome.
- Storing herbs - Cilantro, parsley, oregano and mint can last 2-3 weeks in the fridge if stored upright, in a jar of water, covered with a plastic bag (source). Wash and dry them first (wet herbs will turns slimy and brown). And remember, they are often misted on the grocery shelves, so if nothing else, at least dry them before storing.
- Herb stems - In general, if the stems are tender (not thick and not 'woody'), then yeah, throw them in the food processor. This is hopefully the case for your cilantro and parsley. The mint and oregano stems should not be used, but they are easy to de-stem (how-to video from Divine Cafe).
- To freeze - Freeze them uncooked. Place them on a baking tray in the freezer for an hour, then toss them in a freezer bag or container (so they don't freeze together). To cook, defrost them, then toss in the oven as directed. I expect you can cook these directly from the freezer, but I have not experimented with that, so I don't have advice on the right cooking time or oven temperature.
- Making a double batch - You should definitely make a double batch, since these falafels freeze so well. You'll end up making 2 separate batches in the food processor, putting half of the ingredients in at a time, in the order listed. Remember, the order is important so it all mixes well. Make the first batch, then scoop it into a large bowl. Then make the second batch (no need to wash out the food processor bowl). Don't worry about making sure each batch has perfect measurements, it's easy to combine and mix a little by hand when you combine the two batches.
Take on a hike or picnic
These bake up pretty sturdy and transport well. I wrap them snuggly together in tin foil and put in a lunch box so they don't get smushed. If you leave them loose in a tupperware container (and don't wrap them in foil), they will break apart as they smash into each other.
I like these for hiking trips in particular because they have a lot of good nutrition and protein, but without the worry of meat sitting out too long and going bad.
To take on a hike, I wrap 3 falafels together in foil (a good serving size, about 200 calories). I put some tahini in one of those supermarket dressing containers. I cut up some carrot sticks or some other easy-to-snack on veggie that stays crisp and is good for dipping into the tahini sauce. I put them all together in on short, square plastic container or lunch box. I also grab a package of garlic naan at the store, which lies nice and flat on the top of the container. Throw one in each hiker's backpack along with some napkins and you are set.
Round out the Meal
Now that you have homemade falafels and you aren't at a restaurant, you'll want something to go with them. I like to make a salad with crunchy greens (like romaine), tomatoes, cucumbers and red onions, tossed with the maple tahini dressing and topped with a few falafels. If you have spare herbs, toss those on too. A side of garlic nann is also quite tasty. These also make wonderful pita sandwiches, with the same ingredients as the salad.
When Ali (from Gimme Some Oven) and her sister were making these falafels, her sister looked at the mixture and said, "It's so green!" and Ali replied, "It's not green enough!" Right then, I knew I had to try her recipe. Thanks Ali for adding so many herbs, it's the best falafel recipe out of the 4 different ones I've tried.
The Maple Tahini Sauce came from The Sprouted Kitchen, and it is delicious. I've tried a lot of homemade tahini sauces and this is by far my favorite. I also have a lot of recipes flagged from their second cookbook, The Sprouted Kitchen: Bowl + Spoon, like Strawberry Tabbouleh, Spanish Chopped Salad with Walnut Paprika Vinaigrette, and Grapefruit Lillet Sherbert.