Baked falafel bowls with lemon tahini dressing

A flavourful meal that’s colourful and nutritious!

For years I pan-fried my falafel but it was a real epiphany when I realized I could bake them and achieve the same crispy exterior, with no mess or fuss. For these scrumptious vegan bowls, I really like how the kale stands up to the heartiness of the falafel, but you can easily swap it out for spinach or romaine if you prefer. If you do use alternative greens, simply drizzle the dressing over the chopped leaves and toss, before proceeding to assemble the bowls. Be sure to reserve some of the dressing to drizzle over the warm baked falafels. If you like, serve these bowls with homemade pita crisps for an even heartier meal. While the falafel is a little time consuming to prepare, this recipe makes a big batch so you can freeze them, unbaked or baked (see directions below).

Ingredients

Falafel

  • 1 cup (250 mL) dried chickpeas
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 large shallot or small onion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon (5 mL) ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) freshly ground coriander seed
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) smoked paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon (1.25 mL) cayenne
  • 1/3 cup (90 mL) each chopped fresh cilantro and parsley
  • 1 teaspoon (5 mL) salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon (1.25 mL) baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons (10 mL) fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons (30 mL) flour (chickpea, regular all-purpose or gluten-free all-purpose)
  • 3 tablespoons (45 mL) olive oil (canola or avocado oil will also work well)

Dressing

  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) tahini
  • 1/3 cup (90 mL) red wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons (45 mL) freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon (5 mL) dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 – 4 tablespoons (30 – 60 mL) water, as needed to achieve desired consistency

Bowl

  • 1 cup (250 mL) sliced red onion
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) rice vinegar
  • 8 cups (2L) washed kale, stems removed and leaves chopped
  • 2 cups (500 mL) halved cherry or grape tomatoes
  • 2 cups (500 mL) sliced cucumber

Method

  • Prepare the falafel by soaking the chickpeas. Place them in a large container or bowl and cover with water (you want to have 4 inches / 10 cm of water above the chickpeas). Make sure the vessel is large enough to allow the chickpeas to double or even triple in volume as they absorb liquid. Set aside to soak for at least 12 hours (24 is ideal), adding more water as needed so the chickpeas remain submerged.
  • Once the chickpeas are done soaking, preheat oven to 375F.
  • Drain chickpeas and place in a food processor with garlic, onion, dried seasonings, baking soda and lemon juice. Pulse until the chickpeas, onion and herbs are well-minced (but stop before they turn into a puree). Scrape down sides of food processor work bowl once or twice during this process. If it is too dry to pulse well, add a little bit of water (a tablespoon at a time). Resist the urge to add too much water – you want the mixture to be as dry as possible while still sticking together in little balls. Taste the finished minced mixture and add more cayenne, salt or pepper to suit your tastes.
  • With your hands, shape the chickpea mixture into 20 balls, each about 1 1/2 inches (3.75 cm) in size. Gently flatten the balls into thick discs.
  • Note: at this point you can freeze the uncooked falafel. Place the shaped discs on a parchment-lined cookie sheet then put the sheet in the freezer for an hour. Transfer frozen falafel to an airtight container or freezer bag and store for up to 6 months. To thaw uncooked falafel, place in refrigerator to thaw overnight before cooking.
  • When ready to cook, drizzle 5 teaspoons (25 mL) of the olive oil over a medium-sized rimmed baking sheet, tilting to coat evenly. Place the falafel on the prepared pan then use the remaining 4 teaspoons (20 mL) of olive oil to brush the top of each disc. Bake for 15 minutes then flip the falafel over; bake another 10 – 15 minutes until uniformly golden brown.
  • While the falafel are baking, prepare the pickled onion. Place the sliced red onion in a broad shallow dish. Heat the vinegar in the microwave or a small saucepan and pour over the onion. Toss the mixture with two forks and set aside, tossing again every 5 minutes or so.
  • To make the dressing, combine all of the ingredients (except for the water) in a jar with a tight-fitting lid. Shake or stir until combined. Add water a teaspoon (5 mL) at a time until desired consistency (it should be thick but pourable) is reached then mix again. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.
  • Prepare the chopped kale by placing it in a large bowl. Drizzle about a third of the tahini dressing over top and massage it into the leaves thoroughly, to soften them.
  • Divide the kale among four serving bowls. Add the tomatoes, cucumber and pickled onion. Place three cooked falafel on each bowl then drizzle a little more dressing over them or put it into individual little bowls for dipping. Serve while falafel are still warm.

Serves 4, with leftover falafel.

Author: Paula Roy

Welcome to my kitchen! I play with words and with food. I love simple dishes prepared with passion and am always seeking to find new methods to make food as fun and flavourful as possible. I'm also an enthusiastic explorer of faraway lands and cuisines.

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