If you love falafel, but need a break from the beans, try my easy, baked pepita falafel! In addition to being bean-free, they are naturally vegan, Paleo, grain-free, gluten-free, high in protein and fiber, and ideal for a meal or a snack on the go.
Happy New Year, everyone! I hope you enjoyed the holidays and are off to a happy, healthy start! I’ve been enjoying time with my family, but I am happy to be back to posting and sharing ideas with you.
My back-in-the-saddle recipe is the result of a request from a friend who cannot eat beans but misses the days when she could eat falafel without a care. Hence, in place of the typically chickpeas, I devised this simple recipe, subbing pepitas (green pumpkin seeds) for the usual chickpeas.
I am an equal opportunity falafel lover, and this new variation does not disappoint!
No matter what kind of eating resolutions you may have made for the New Year (including “Must eat more delicious food!”), these falafel will more than likely fit the bill.
Low in sugar? Absolutely!
High in protein? Sure thing!
Vegan? Yes, indeed!
Loaded with vitamins? You better believe it.
They are easy-to-make, too. The pepitas get a 10-minute soak in hot water, then (a short list of) everything goes into the food processor. Shape into patties, bake, and you’ve got falafel, my friends.
In my first tests of the falafel, I used all seeds, save for some spices and a bit of cilantro and green onion. It was tasty, but really dense and more like a thick, heavy cracker. After further experimentation, I settled on the a healthy addition of carrots, which balances the pepitas to create a more traditional falafel texture.
Now that you have a basic formula to work with, feel free to experiment with flavors as much as you like.
I have not tried it yet, but I am guessing that other hard vegetables, such as parsnips, broccoli, or even beets, would be delicious swaps for all or some of the carrots.
And don’t feel wedded to pepitas, especially if you have trouble sourcing them. Shelled, raw sunflower seeds, almonds, or a combination of nuts and seeds (clean out the cupboard!) should work just fine.
Here’s to a brand new year of healthy eats and happy living!
- 1-1/4 cups pepitas (green pumpkin seeds)
- 1 cup boiling water
- 2 medium-large carrots, trimmed, cut into chunks
- 1 big handful cilantro leaves (about ¾ cup)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil (or oil of choice)
- 1-1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon cracked black pepper
- Cooking spray (e.g., olive oil, avocado oil or coconut oil spray)
- Optional: extra pepitas for pressing on top of patties
- In a small bowl, cover the pepitas with the boiling water; let stand for 10 minutes and then drain.
- Preheat oven to 400F. Line a rimmed baking pan with parchment paper.
- In a food processor, finely chop the carrots and cilantro. Add the drained pepitas, oil, cumin, salt and pepper. Process the mixture, stopping to scrape down the bowl periodically, until mixture is thick and comes together into a shapeable "dough."
- Scoop out 2 tablespoons of mixture at a time and shape into ½-inch thick patties; place on prepared baking sheet. Spray tops of falafel with cooking spray. If desired, press a few extra pepitas on top of each patty.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes until golden brown and edges appear crispy. Serve hot, warm or chilled, in salads, tucked into wraps, as a main dish, or solo as a portable power snack!
Troubleshooting: If the processed "dough" seems too wet, add some additional pepitas (unsoaked) and process until finely chopped. If dough is too dry, add a small amount of water at a time until it is pliable.
Cilantro Sub: An equal amount of parsley can be used in place of the cilantro.