A couple of weeks back, my family and I took a little mini vacation to Austin. We had some really yummy food. Well, there were a couple of meals I had there that were so delicious, that I was determined to recreate healthier, homemade versions. This recipe is one of those. We had some out-of-this-world falafel pita sandwiches while there. The flavor was incredible, bold and spicy. The only issue was the ridiculous oil content. They were soooooo greasy, I mean greasy.
Sooooooo, I set out to create a Gluten-Free Oil-Free Baked Falafel.
Let's talk falafel. I did a bit of research on how traditional falafel is made and using canned chickpeas is a big fat no-no apparently, because it doesn't give the right texture and makes them too wet. Traditionally, you are to use dried beans and soak them overnight, not cook them. Well, of course, you all know me by now, I have to change up classic falafel a little bit and give it my own twist. I didn't have any dried chickpeas and didn't want to fool with soaking anyways, so I had an idea of roasting canned chickpeas to dry them out and give them a flavor boost at the same time! I'm thinking this gives a similar effect as the soaking/uncooked tradition.
Another thing I did differently for extra flavor? I roasted the onion and garlic before adding it to the batter! So much flavor in these little gems, I tell ya. Oh, and I also added some hot sauce for a spicy kick.
It worked awesome. Traditional falafel is also fried in a lot of oil and isn't exactly my cup of tea these days. Not only do I not like the taste of all that oil, but I don't want that in my body. Well, it's pretty obvious that chickpeas become extremely dry when cooked, hence the need for oil. I even tried making a version by just leaving out the oil and hoping they would be ok, but they were just too dry. I nailed down the awesome flavor, but they need a bit better texture. So, what is my favorite food that I use in soooo many recipes?? Come on......potatoes! That is the magic ingredient I use in so many of my recipes. So, when the first trial didn't satisfy me, I decided to add some cooked mashed potato to the batter and it helped to make them more moist and hold together better too.
Now, these aren't as moist as the typical fried, grease bombs....obviously. But, who wants that anyways? The texture is a bit different because they are not fried and are totally oil-free falafel, but they are damn delicious, sooo full of flavor and taste flipping amazing in a pita with tomato, extra parsley, avocado and my creamy lemon pepper sauce! I got lots of "delicious" and "yummy" from the family on these.
I served these with a creamy sauce anyways, so that helps negate any lack of oil. I know traditionally falafel is served with a tahini sauce, but I just didn't want that and I had a feeling my Creamy Lemon Pepper Sauce would be a great addition and I was right. I served that sauce with my super popular Vegan Oil-free Baked Corn Zucchini Fritters and it is soooo good! The tartness and creaminess pairs so well with the falafel. So darn good.
Load these up and serve them any way you like. I chose traditional pitas, but next time I'm doing mini burgers or inside tortillas. I find pita bread to be a bit too dry for my tastebuds.
As usual, this recipe for these baked falafel requires just 8 ingredients (plus s/p & water) and if you want, throw in the optional hot sauce if you like extra heat, but it's totally optional!
I can't wait to hear what you think of these flavor-loaded Gluten-free Oil-free Baked Falafel! Drop me a line below please after you make them! I'd also love to see your pic of it on Instagram. Tag me using my hashtag #thevegan8 so I don't miss it!
Carefully read the instructions as to prepare these falafel correctly. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. You will first drain and rinse your chickpeas. Spread them out evenly on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Roast for 25 minutes. This helps them to give more texture to the falafel instead of just turning into mush like hummus when blended. It also gives a bit more flavor.
In the last ten minutes of roasting the chickpeas, add the chopped onion and garlic cloves (with cloves still in their skins!) to another sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Once there is 10 minutes left of roasting the chickpeas, add the onion and garlic to the oven to cook/soften them for 10 minutes. Just place the pan on the bottom rack. At this time, you also want to cook your potato. I just cooked a small potato in the microwave (with skin on) and mashed it and then measured a tightly packed 1/2 cup. You can bake the potato if you want, but do not steam or boil as that will make them too moist.
Remove both pans from the oven. Add the chickpeas to a food processor. Process just until there are no more visible whole chickpeas, but do not overprocess it too finely. It should look ground up but kind of chunky with no remaining beans whole
Now, remove the garlic cloves from their skins and tear the garlic up a bit and drop the pieces scattered around the bowl, so they blend up evenly. Add the onion as well. Do not blend up yet. You are going to add all of the remaining ingredients now BEFORE blending anything. This is to avoid over-processing it and the mixture becoming too smooth, so you are only processing it one time. When adding the spices, sprinkle them around the bowl so they will blend up evenly. Add the cumin, coriander, tahini, salt, pepper, mashed potato, parsley, water and hot sauce (if using).
Now that you have added all of the remaining ingredients, process until everything comes together and the mixture starts to form large chunks. This may take 10-15 seconds. As soon as it does, stop processing. It should hold together easily when pressed and not be dry/crumbly, but pureed, but still see little chopped bits of onion in it. It should easily form into balls, if not, process just slightly longer.
Preheat the oven again to 375 degrees and line another pan with parchment paper.
Press, form and shape the mixture into tight balls with your hands. They should be about golf ball size and you should get 10-12. Place them all onto the pan and press them down to about 1/2 inch thick. The edges may slightly crack a bit when pressing them down, just piece back the edges with your fingers.
If you like a really crispy exterior, you can always spray them with a little nonstick spray before baking if you prefer. I did not, but it is up to you. Bake for 10 minutes. Flip them over and cook another 10 minutes. If they are not flipping over easily, cook another couple of minutes until they flip easily. This will make sure they hold their shape. They should have nice golden brown tops. If you want these extra crispy, bake them longer, but just keep in mind they may become more dry.
Hi! I'm Brandi, a wife and mom behind this blog who healed her husband's gout and my digestion issues through a plant-based diet. I'm not complicated, I keep things simple. All my recipes are 8 ingredients or less, not including salt, pepper and water. They are allergy-friendly, as they are all vegan, oil-free and nearly all are gluten-free. You'll find lots of baked goods here, as I've been a baker all my life, it's my passion!