Baked Green Falafel and Greek Salad

 Baked Green Falafel and Greek Salad | Image:  Laura Messersmith

Baked Green Falafel and Greek Salad | Image: Laura Messersmith

Before we even begin I should say that these are by no means authentic falafel. For one, I skipped the dried chickpeas (couldn’t be bothered) and for two, these guys get just the barest whisper of olive oil, no deep frying or sautéing required, and finally, for three: this is my favorite ratio of spices and herbs, but to be honest I’m not sure if any of them actually belong in falafel. So really these should probably just be called something generic like “spiced chickpea patties” and not falafel at all. But, since we’re rebellious around here and it’s a handy shortcut I’m sticking with falafel.

 Baked Green Falafel and Greek Salad | Image:  Laura Messersmith

Baked Green Falafel and Greek Salad | Image: Laura Messersmith

Shortcuts or laziness are the name of the game with this recipe since the previously mentioned points (canned chickpeas, no frying) save a ton of time, effort, and mess. When has that ever been a bad thing? The most important part though is that they taste incredible.

Tender and garlicky, pungent with cilantro, bright from the lemon juice and deliciously golden, these falafel make the perfect topping to a greek salad or wrapped up in a pita. They’re just the thing for these not-quite summer not-quite fall evenings and I personally love to make a big batch and freeze the extras (assuming there are any!) for an even easier dinner down the road.

 Baked Green Falafel and Greek Salad | Image:  Laura Messersmith

Baked Green Falafel and Greek Salad | Image: Laura Messersmith

Baked Green Falafel & Greek Salad (serves 4)

Falafel Ingredients:
2 cups fresh parsley leaves
1 cup fresh cilantro leaves
6 cloves garlic
4 lemons
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 1/2 teaspoons cumin
28 ounces canned chickpeas, well rinsed and drained
1/4 cup whole wheat or oat flour

Salad Ingredients:
4 cups shredded lacinato kale leaves
2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
2 cups diced hot house cucumber
8 ounces feta cheese, divided
1/2 cup hummus
4 pitas toasted
olive oil
kosher salt
black pepper

Instructions:
Place the parsley, cilantro, roughly chopped garlic, 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, and ground cumin in the bowl of a large food processor and mix to combine. The texture will be similar to a thick pesto.

Rinse and thoroughly drain the chickpeas in a colander and add half to the herb mixture. Pulse the food processor a few times to combine and then add the remaining half of the chickpeas. Pulse again a few times until the chickpeas are mostly incorporated but some larger pieces remain and there are still traces of un-mixed herbs. You want to maintain some texture not end up with hummus.

Use a rubber spatula to transfer the chickpea mixture to a large mixing bowl and fold together to finish mixing in the herbs and seasoning. Sprinkle the whole wheat flour over the chickpeas 1 tablespoon at a time using the spatula to press the mixture together until a loose dough is formed. It should be firm enough to hold its shape when handled, think meatballs. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.

Use a cookie scoop or measuring spoon to portion about 2 tablespoons of falafel mixture. Use your hands to form 12 flattened discs about 1/2 inch thick and 2 inches in diameter. Place on baking sheet and refrigerate or freeze for 15 minutes to firm up.

OPTIONAL STEP: I don’t bother with this, but for a little extra crust on the outside, before baking heat a large skillet over medium to medium-high heat and add 2 tablespoons olive or canola oil. Swirl to coat pan, then add falafel. Carefully flip once golden brown – about 3-4 minutes - and then cook on the other side until golden brown as well  – 3-4 more minutes.

In the meantime, line a second rimmed baking sheet with foil and place in the oven while you pre-heat to 375 degrees F. When the oven is hot, remove the sheet (oven mitt!) and lightly coat it with non-stick spray or olive oil. Place the falafel on the warmed sheet and bake on one side for 20-25 minutes then turn and bake for another 10-15 minutes. Both sides will be lightly browned. The longer you bake them, the firmer they’ll get! While the falafel bake, prepare the kale, tomatoes, cucumber and feta.

Toss together kale leaves, tomatoes, cucumbers and feta. Serve the falafel alongside with the toasted pita and hummus. The falafel can be refrigerated, layered with parchment paper in an airtight container, for several days. Freeze to keep longer.

Small Kitchen Friendly?
Yes! I used a medium food processor, small cutting board, fine mesh sieve, medium mixing bowl, rubber spatula, cookie scoop, and two rimmed sheet trays.

 Baked Green Falafel and Greek Salad | Image:  Laura Messersmith

Baked Green Falafel and Greek Salad | Image: Laura Messersmith