Vegetarian, Vegan, Gluten Free, and the best falafels I've ever tried!
A not fal-awful falafel! I had to go there, sorry. Let’s be honest though, when you’re confronted with the options at, let’s say, Pita Pit, and have to choose between falafels or some delicious looking cheesesteak or roasted chicken option, it’s hard to pick falafel. Sometimes it’s nice to go vegetarian, though! So, I present you with the MOST delicious falafels that I would easily chose over a meat option.
Ryan and I try to eat vegetarian 2 or 3 times a week. It’s good for the environment, and I do feel better because I end up with a more well-rounded diet when I’m also getting my protein from sources like lentils and ancient grains. I think it’s really important, especially as a female athlete, to eat red meat. I try to eat red meat once or twice a week… it keeps my iron levels topped up, my body functioning the way it should, and helps combat red blood cell breakdown we experience from high-impact running. I end up eating chicken or pork once a week, too, and fish or shellfish one of the other nights. The other three nights, I try and get creative with how to make vegetarian recipes delicious and interesting! These falafels have been a freezer staple in our house for years now.
Falafels are an awesome source of protein and fibre. Mine are made with chickpeas, which have all sorts of health benefits - google it! They're typically deep fried, but mine are baked.
These falafels are made with chickpeas, pistachios, a bit of olive oil, herbs and some spices. My favourite is parsley and a bit of cumin, but you could totally customize these to give them whatever flavour you want. I’ve made them with cilantro, or arugula. You could even put a Mediterranean spin on them by using basil and throwing in some sundried tomatoes.
Here's how to make it
They’re super easy to make… you just throw all the ingredients in a blender. I use a cookie or ice cream scoop to scoop these in to balls on a baking tray. Then I just bake them in the oven for about 15 minutes, flipping them once halfway through. Then, they live in a ziplock bag my freezer until I want to use them for a lunch salad or vegetarian dinner!
These also go with absolutely everything. I put them on salads at lunch, I’ve flattened them in to vegetarian burger patties, and I loooove to put them in a super colourful wrap with grated beets, carrots and my favourite glory bowl dressing. That recipe will definitely get shared one day! I’m going to post one shortly where I use them in a bowl, with roasted sweet potatoes, apple, goat cheese and farro (my favourite ancient grain).
I hope these entice you enter the world of exciting vegetarian meals, and enjoy these as much as I do!
Pistachio and Herb Baked Falafels
Calories per serving: 113 kcal
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
Total time: 35 minutes
10 sprigs parsley, stems chopped off
240g/8.5oz/generous 2 cups pistachio nuts, shelled
400g/12oz/2 cups canned or cooked chickpeas, thoroughly rinsed
2 cloves of garlic
½ small red onion
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp ground cumin
1tbsp flour (sub for a gluten free flour if you want)
1tsp baking powder
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Blend the herbs and garlic in a food processor for about 30 seconds. Add the pistachio nuts, and pulse until they are broken up a bit. Add the rest of the falafel ingredients and blend for another minute, scraping down the sides as necessary until your desired texture is reached. You can make this thoroughly pureed, or keep it quite chunky. I like it somewhere in the middle! It should hold its form when you press it together, and not crumble apart. If it seems too dry, add more chickpeas or olive oil.
Using a cookie scoop, ice cream scoop, or just your hands, form the falafel paste in to 2-inch balls. Once the balls are formed, I like to drizzle these with a tiny bit more olive oil, because it helps make them nice and crispy in the oven! Not a necessary step though, if you want to skip in. Place these on a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper, and bake these in the oven for about 10 minutes. Take them out, flip them, and bake for another 5-10 minutes.
Eat them warm and immediately in a wrap, bowl, or just with a sauce. OR, stick the whole pan in your freezer. Once they’re frozen, pile the falafels in a ziplock bag to eat when and as desired.