The Jew And The Carrot

Baked Falafel for Meatless Mondays

By Molly Yeh

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In college, Mondays meant falafel. It started when Soom Soom, an amazing Kosher eatery on 72nd St., had falafel happy hour. Two sandwiches for the price of one. My fellow students and I would pair up and walk over for dinner. We’d cram into the tiny joint, bask in half-price falafel yumminess, and enjoy the break from school.

When I graduated and moved out to Brooklyn, I lived within a mile of enough falafel places to keep me on my toes for months: an Israeli bar and restaurant, a gourmet falafel place with delicious doughy pita, and a bright green falafel truck parked right in front of my brownstone whose smells seeped into my living room (in the best way possible), to name a few. I loved them all and always looked forward to Monday dinners.

Living on the farm, I miss my many falafel places. But, since moving away from New York, I have loved making my own. With its basic ingredients being items that I always have on hand (garbanzo beans and various spices) that can be paired with whatever fresh herbs or green leafy vegetables I have at the moment, a homemade falafel is never out of reach. Served with a salad or rice and tahini sauce, it makes for a trusty and tasty meal.

The following recipe takes a cue from one of my favorite New York Israeli restaurants, Nanoosh, and calls for baking the falafel balls. It’s a healthy delight with an easy cleanup, and it won’t leave you in a food coma like many of my college Monday nights were. Kale adds nutrients (although any leafy greens will do), minced shallots add a bit of sweetness, and ground cumin and coriander give you that familiar falafel taste.

So embrace the Meatless Monday (or any day), grind up some chickpeas, and get your falafel fill, right in your own kitchen.

Baked Falafel with Kale, Shallots, and Sumac Tahini Sauce

Makes 2-4 servings

Falafel

1 packed cup of kale (other leafy green vegetables, like spinach, will work too)
1 tablespoon olive oil
Juice from 1/2 lemon
A pinch of Kosher salt
1 15.5-ounce can or 1 1/2 cups of cooked chickpeas, rinsed
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 large shallots, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
A few turns of black pepper
A pinch of crushed red pepper

Sauce

1/4 cup tahini
1/4 cup water
Juice from 1/2 lemon
3/4 teaspoon sumac
A pinch of Kosher salt

For serving: Fresh pita or a salad of greens, chopped tomatoes, and chopped onions or shallots.

1) Preheat oven to 425. Line a baking sheet with parchment, spray it with cooking spray, and set aside.

2) Add the kale, olive oil, lemon juice, and salt to a food processor and process until the kale is ground into tiny flecks (this shouldn’t take more than 30 seconds). Add the remaining falafel ingredients and pulse quickly, about 40-60 times, until the mixture is combined, but still slightly granular.

3) Form the mixture into 2- to 3-tablespoon-sized balls and place them on the baking sheet, 1 to 2 inches apart. Spray the balls with cooking spray or brush them with olive oil and bake for 35-40 minutes, until the tops and edges start to brown.

4) To make the sauce, stir together all ingredients with a fork or whisk. Add more water if you’d like a thinner consistency. Drizzle on the falafel and serve immediately.

Photos by Molly Yeh


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