Monday, September 5, 2011

Oven Baked Falafel

Thank you for continuing to read this despite the so, so sad photo above. It'll be worth it.

I've had very little experience with falafels in my adult life. As a child my family would frequent the fast food falafel stand in the mall. I don't remember the taste of the falafels, but I recall that being the only place where we ate it. Then, as we got older (And the falafel stand closed down.) I remember the falafel balls on top of Lanie Boggs head in the movie She's All That. (Lanie worked for a fast food Mediterranean restaurant for all of you who have not had the pleasure of seeing the move.)

Lanie: Sir, have you made a decision? 
Falafel restaurant customer: Yes I have. Supersize my balls.

At this point I still hadn't experienced the fried chickpea ball. It wasn't until earlier this year that I went to an engagement party that was catered with Greek food where I ate a falafel. (Falafels originated in Egypt, are predominate in Middle East cuisine and are apparently served in Greek restaurants too!) Wow, now that was some good stuff! Eaten with warm pita bread and tzatziki sauce, yum!

So off I was again searching for a recipe, this time it was Mission: Falafel. Not just any falafel recipe, but a baked version of the Middle Eastern delight. It tastes so good, but I don't like to fry foods at home. And, baking is just easier. I reviewed a lot of different sites to find one recipe that was healthy, tasty and as authentic to the real thing as possible, and I found it! (Or so I think.) Regardless, this recipe came out really well. Even Hubby the Carnivore enjoyed it. While it is low in fat, because it has so many flavors, it comes out tasting so good!

Click here for the original recipe.

2 cups cooked garbanzo beans (Or 1- 15 ounce can)
1 small onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
3 tablespoons fresh parsley
1 tablespoon cilantro
juice of one lemon
1 teaspoon olive oil (I found this to be a bit stingy, you can easily up to 1 Tablespoon)
1 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (Optional, I did not use.)
2 Tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2. In a food processor combine all ingredients. Mix thoroughly. (Recipe calls to mash all together with a fork, but I liked the consistency of it combined in a food processor). Even though it's going into a food processor, I think it's important to still chop up the onion and garlic somewhat, because when I haven't done this in the past I've gotten chunks of garlic in my supposed blended foods.

Post food-processed

3. If you want to pan fry falafel before baking continue reading, otherwise skip to 4b. Spray non-stick cooking pan with PAM and also add 1 teaspoon olive oil. Set temperature at medium  high and place falafel dough into pan and cook on each side for 3-4 minutes until browned. 

When you place in pan the dough is like pancake batter. 

4a. Place falafel in pre-greased baking pan and cook for 10-12 minutes per side.

I know, not the prettiest shapes, but I put too many in the pan at once and every time I would flip them, they would run into each other. (Tip: Only cook one at a time in the pan!)

4b. If you skipped step three, drop dough by droplets onto pan. If you prefer patties (like me), mat down with a spatula. Otherwise, let them stay similar to a ball shape. If you do not mat them down, the sides will not brown since they are not fried. Bake for 15 minutes per side.

Serve with pita bread, tomato, lettuce, tzatziki sauce, or hummus. Serve along side couscous salad.

It may not look like something out of Real Simple magazine, but it tastes so good! 

Amateur Cooking Difficulty Scale: 6 (If pan fried then baked) 4 (If only baked)
The first time I made this dish I only baked it and it came out really good, but dry. This second that I made it I decided to pan fry it and it actually did come out a little better. It is dry (but I think falafels are dry in general), but it has a crispiness to it that it didn't have the first time.

The first time I made this I also made tzatziki sauce and it tasted so good together! I was a little lazy this time (Not that tzatziki sauce is hard to make) and Bambino and I ate it with plan, fat-free yogurt. 

I will definitely be making this a third time!

Show me a photo of your falafel! (You no longer have to be logged in to post, so show me your photos!)

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