It’s a bit of a shocker to realize that those unassuming little falafel balls at your favorite Middle Eastern restaurant are deep-fried in a vat of oil! Baking the little guys offers up a much healthier take without sacrificing any flavor. I prefer to shape them into patties rather than balls—there’s more surface area for the crunchy bits, and they bake up a little quicker. Of course the whole package is fab stuffed into a pita, too, but it’s extra nice as a lean bread-free plate. If you like, you can serve the platter with lettuce leaves for wrapping!
For the falafel:
One 15.5-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 small yellow onion, quartered
8 scallions, trimmed and quartered
2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1/2 cup roughly chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs or dried whole-wheat breadcrumbs (plus extra if needed)
1 teaspoon sea salt
Homemade Hummus, for serving
Tender Lettuce Leaves, for serving
For the salad:
1 ripe tomato, thinly sliced
1 large cucumber, ends trimmed, thinly sliced into thin rounds
1/2 small yellow onion, finely minced
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
For the sauce:
1/2 cup nonfat Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh dill
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and then coat with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.
To make the falafel patties, place all of the falafel ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to combine, then process until finely ground and the mixture holds together, 30 to 40 seconds. If the mixture doesn’t hold together when you squeeze a pinch in your hand, then pulse in more breadcrumbs, 1 tablespoon at a time, until it does.
Pack a 1/4 cup measuring cup with some of the mixture. Turn it out onto your work surface and press down using firm but light pressure to flatten it into a 3-inch wide patty. Place the patty on the prepared baking sheet and repeat with the remaining falafel mixture to make 7 more patties. Bake until crisp and golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool slightly.
While the falafels bake, make the salad and dip. Toss the tomatoes and cucumbers together in a medium bowl. Add the onions, parsley, lemon juice, and salt and toss to combine. Set aside at room temperature until you’re ready to serve. To make the dip, stir the yogurt, dill, and lemon juice together.
Divide the falafel and salad among 4 plates. Serve with the dip, hummus, and lettuce leaves (if using) on the side.