Spinach Falafel| Oven-baked, healthy alternative
I love Falafel. Packed with proteins and carbs they make a filling yet healthy meal option. This is my version of making healthy Falafel. Traditional Falafel is deep-fried, but I tried to bake them in the oven and I must say it was not disappointing. Also, opted for Spinach along with other ingredients to make it more healthy by increasing its calcium, iron, and folate content among other many health benefits of spinach. To learn more about the health benefits of spinach, click here. Ingredients (This recipe easily makes 25-30 falafel balls depending on size.) 1 lb or approximately 2 1/2 cups dried chickpeas (Do not use pre-cooked or canned chickpea) 4 cups water (for soaking chickpeas) 2 cups chopped spinach ¼ cup chopped cilantro/parsley 3-4 Tbsp oat flour (ground from gluten-free oats) 1 small onion, chopped 3 garlic cloves, minced 1 ½ teaspoon ground cumin 1 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon baking soda/ Fruit soda or Eno is fine too. 1 1/2 tbsp tahini 1 1/2 tbsp lemon juice Pre-Prep Soak the chickpeas in water with 1 tbsp of baking soda overnight or for at least 6-8 hours. Soaking for 24 hours is best. Instructions 1. Add spinach, cilantro, chickpeas, garlic, tahini, lemon juice, cumin, and a healthy pinch of each salt and pepper to a food processor and mix to combine. 2. Once well incorporated, transfer to a mixing bowl and stir in oat flour 1 Tbsp at a time until the mixture is thick enough to handle – about 3-4 Tbsp. 3. Add baking soda and lemon juice on top of the soda and mix well. 4. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Oven Baking Process 5. With an oven rack in the middle position, preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. 6. Prepare a baking tray with butter paper or spray the tray with oil of your choice to avoid the falafels from sticking to the tray. 7. Using your hands, shape the falafel into small patties. Place each falafel on your oiled pan. 8. Add some sesame seeds on top for more flavor (optional) 9. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, carefully flipping the falafels halfway through baking, until the falafels are deeply golden on both sides. These falafels keep well in the refrigerator for up to 4 days, or in the freezer for several months. Serve warm with pita bread and hummus. Bonus Recipe EGYPTIAN FAVA BEAN FALAFEL: Use 1 lb. dried fava beans instead of chickpeas; cover them with cold water, soak them for at least 24 hours, then drain, rinse and peel them. You can also use a mixture of soaked fava beans and chickpeas if you wish; just make sure the weight of the dried beans adds up to 1 lb. After the beans are soaked and rinsed, add the Classic Falafel ingredients to the processor along with the following ingredients – 1 leek, cleaned, trimmed, and quartered; ¼ cup chopped dill; ¼ cup chopped cilantro; and an additional ¾ tsp cayenne pepper. When mixture is processed to a coarse meal, pour into a bowl. Stir 2 ½ tbsp sesame seeds into the mixture with a fork until it’s evenly dispersed throughout the mixture. Refrigerate and proceed with frying. If mixture seems too “wet” when making the falafel balls, add additional flour by the teaspoonful until the mixture sticks together better. Continue with frying.