I discovered falafel when I was a young adult. Friends brought me to a restaurant called Jerusalem Garden that is known for its excellent falafel. The restaurant was located in a tiny house, where you sat across the counter from the kitchen and could watch the cook in action. The cook had a gadget that looked like my grandmother’s coffee percolator, of all things! He used that to shape balls of a greenish paste, which he then deep fried. Brown falafel balls emerged, which he served tucked into pita bread with lettuce, tomatoes, and a creamy white sauce, all wrapped up in a piece of foil so that you could hold it in your hands to eat it. It was delicious!!
When my family couldn’t eat gluten and dairy, I figured that falafel was lost to us forever. But happily I was wrong! This gluten-free, vegan falafel recipe is one of our favorite recipes at our house. Even my pickiest eater happily scarfs them down.
This recipe easily mixes together in the food processor. Then you scoop blobs of dough onto a cookie sheet, and bake. A quick rinse of the food processor, and the sauce mixes together quickly in it. Add toppings, and you have a satisfying meal.
I’m a big fan of Isa Chandra Moskowitz. Her cookbooks have some of the funniest text that I have ever seen in a cookbook (her description of falafel — and singing about it at summer camp — is hilarious!), and her recipes always turn out well. Back when I was a leader of a Girl Scout troop that had kids with food allergies, special diets, and picky eaters, I would often find recipes for baked goods in Moskowitz’s blog, The Post-Punk Kitchen, and make them as snacks for the Girl Scout troop. Her recipes always turned out well. Someday I will post my gluten-free version of her Marbled Banana Bread recipe. It is always a big hit — it looks beautiful and tastes great. And her Green Lasagna Rolls — the recipe is currently on the front page of her website — are truly excellent. They have quickly become a favorite recipe around here.
Anyway, onward to falafel!
- 4 cans cooked chickpeas, rinsed, or 6 cups of cooked chickpeas
- 1 1/2 cups of gluten-free breakfast cereal, such as Erewhon's Crispy Brown Rice cereal
- 6 tablespoons gluten-free flour (such as brown rice flour and potato starch)
- 1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder (or 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda plus 1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar)
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon ground coriander
- 3/4 cup parsley
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 3 tablespoons canola and/or olive oil
- a little black pepper, ground
- chopped tomatoes or grape tomatoes
- chopped avocadoes
- tahini dressing (see recipe below)
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Place all falafel ingredients (but not the toppings!) in a food processor. Blend until smooth.
- Place blobs of dough on two nonstick cookie sheets or on parchment paper on cookie sheets. The blobs should be about 1 1/2 tablespoons. I use an OXO Good Grips Medium Cookie Scoop, but it will also work fine to use one dinnertable tablespoon to scoop up blobs of dough and another dinnertable spoon to push the dough off of it. The dough doesn't usually spread while it bakes, so it is okay to put the blobs close together.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes, until the falafel is starting to turn brown.
- While the falafel bakes, make the tahini sauce, chop the avocado, etc.
- To serve: Place some lettuce on a plate. Mound eight pieces of falafel in the center. Top with tahini sauce, tomatoes, and avocado pieces. Yum!
Here is the recipe for tahini sauce. This is my version of the recipe from Vegan With A Vengeance. The sauce is really good on other things, too. For example, it is delicious mixed with spaghetti and veggies for dinner.
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- optional: 3 cloves of garlic
- 1/2 cup tahini (Look for a brand that doesn't taste bitter, such as Once Again or Maranatha)
- 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- juice of 1 lemon
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika or smoked paprika
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley
- 1/2 cup hot water (not boiling, just hot)
- Tip: If your tahini is chunky, the easiest way to measure it is to put the 1/2 cup water into a glass measuring cup, then add tahini until you reach 1 cup.
- If you are using the garlic, chop it and cook it in the oil for 2 minutes -- don't let it burn. (I always leave out the garlic, because we have a person with a garlic allergy. I love garlic, but the sauce is still good even without it.)
- Place all ingredients into a food processor or blender, and blend until smooth.
- Serve warm on falafel or other food.