A healthier (but no less delicious) take on falafel! This quinoa falafel is baked instead of fried, and stuffed into pita loaves with creamy hummus and your favorite veggies!
Falafel is one of my favorite foods of all time. Okay, fine, I know I've probably said that about a half a dozen dishes on this blog by now. That's why I say "one of." I've got lots. Falafel is definitely one of my top ten.
The first time I tasted falafel was around 1999 and I thought I'd died and gone to heaven. That happened at a Middle Eastern restaurant located at the intersection of 13th and Pine in Philadelphia, which is sadly no longer there.
Fortunately, by the time I moved into the city in 2002 it was overrun with places where I could get delicious falafel. Amazing how just a few years prior I was totally unaware of the existence of this amazing treat, only later to find an average of four falafel joints located within every one block radius.
The unfortunate consequence of living in falafel paradise for eight years was falafel withdrawal when I finally left the city. I couldn't find falafel anywhere! Oh, I could drive forty-five minutes to some random pizza place out in the country with no clue as to the quality of the falafel I would get, but then why not just drive back into Philly where the good stuff is a guarantee?
I eventually took matters into my own hands. The results were not pleasing. Maybe it was my refusal to include eggs in the recipe. I don't know, but in any event, the texture wasn't quite right, the falafel didn't quite hold together during cooking, you get it.
This falafel is baked instead of fried, which, along with the quinoa, ups the healthiness of this recipe. I dressed my sandwiches with some roasted red pepper hummus, which worked out perfectly. You can use traditional hummus instead, but if you're feel like something extra special, give the red pepper stuff a go. It really compliments the falafel nicely.
One other awesome thing about this recipe: the mixture freezes great! I made a big batch, formed and baked just enough falafel balls to make a couple of sandwiches, then froze the rest for use on a later dinner occasion.
If you want some quick weeknight dinners close at hand, freeze this in portions just the right size to create one sandwich (or multiply by the number of people you typically feed). Bust it out of the freezer in the morning, then roll and bake in the evening.
Tips for Making Awesome Quinoa Falafel Sandwiches
- Got some leftover quinoa on hand? Feel free to use it in this recipe instead of cooking up a new batch. You'll need ⅔ cup.
- Want to make this recipe gluten-free? Just use gluten-free pitas or your favorite gluten-free bread.
- Make ahead option: prepare the falafel mixture (up to step 4 of the recipe) in advance, then store it in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 3 days, or in the freezer for up to 3 months. When you're ready, thaw (if frozen), roll and bake your falafel according to the recipe.
- Not into sandwiches? Quinoa falafel is also great on it's own, with a dipping sauce, or on top of a salad.
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Baked Quinoa Falafel Sandwiches
For the Falafel
- ⅓ cup quinoa
- ½ cup vegetable broth
- ⅔ cup cooked or canned chickpeas, drained
- 1 small onion, diced
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
- 1 ½ tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus a little extra for brushing
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 pitas, cut in half
- Hummus and/or tahini
- Greens, tomato, cucumber, and/or onion slices
Rinse the quinoa well under cold water, then place it in a small saucepan, along with the broth. Place over high heat and bring the liquid to a simmer. Cover, lower heat and allow to simmer for about 15 minutes, or until all of the liquid is absorbed.
Remove the pot from heat and allow it to sit for another five minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350° and lightly oil or line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Place ⅔ cup cooked quinoa (you should have at least this much and probably a little more) and all other falafel ingredients except for the salt and pepper into food processor bowl. Pulse until well blended, taste test, and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Remove the falafel mixture from food processor and roll as much as you want to use into 1-inch balls (about 12-16 of them). Arrange on the prepared baking sheet or in the skillet, then lightly brush with oil.
Bake for about 35 minutes, flipping every ten minutes or so to get browning on all sides.
Stuff into pita halves, and dress with hummus and veggies.
Nutrition information includes 2 tablespoons of hummus per serving. 1 serving = 1 sandwich, or ½ pita with 3-4 falafels.
The video above shows me making a double batch!