I’ve made falafel exactly twice in my life, this here being the second time. And both times I’ve baked it instead of frying it. Now don’t get me wrong, fried falafel is perfectly delicious—I’ve had it a time or two from a restaurant—but baked is obviously the healthier option, right? This falafel is also oil-free and vegan, which means it’s even healthier. Yay!
Aren’t these falafel bites are just gorgeous topped with hummus and homemade salsa?! I impressed myself with this one. I like dainty food, what can I say. Speaking of dainty, these little bites make for a perfect appetizer. But, it’s also just as easy to slather hummus inside a pita pocket, tuck in a few falafel bites, and spoon on some salsa for a main dish. No matter how you serve up this falafel, you and your family will love it.
The falafel mixture comes together in no time, as does the salsa. You use a food processor for both, so it’s all super easy. The falafel is packed with herbs + the garlic, red onion, and cumin pack an extra punch. Coating the falafel patties in panko breadcrumbs takes a little extra time, but the breadcrumbs stick to the falafel just fine, so no worries there. I really only coated both sides of the patties, not so much around the edges.
Oh, and the salsa—it’s like a party in your mouth! You only need grape tomatoes, red onion, and cucumber + cilantro and lime. Few ingredients, tremendous flavor. Yessss! I seriously recommend making a double batch, or at least making it again some other time to pair with tortilla chips. In the words of Gordon Ramsay…wow, wow, wow!
Hellllo, speaking of Chef Ramsay, do you watch Master Chef Junior?! Mind blown. Seriously. The kids on that show are amazing in the kitchen. I was definitely sad to see little Riley go home—that kid has talent and is an incredible inspiration, as are all the kids.
Okay, getting back on track. :)
I used my favorite store-bought roasted red pepper hummus, so feel free to do the same, or make a homemade batch. The combination of the falafel, hummus, and salsa will wow you to bits! Such an incredible flavor profile with so much goodness packed into one little bite. Prepare to be wowed!
Baked Falafel Bites with Hummus & Tomato-Cucumber Salsa
Yields 22-24 falafel bites
For the falafel
- 3 cloves garlic
- ½ cup red onion
- 1/3 cup packed fresh cilantro leaves
- 1/3 cup packed fresh parsley leaves
- 1 (15 oz.) can chickpeas—drained and rinsed
- 2 tbsp. ground flaxseed
- ½ cup panko breadcrumbs + more, if needed—divided use (ensure the breadcrumbs are vegan, if needed)
- ½ tsp. ground cumin
- ½ tsp. salt
For the tomato-cucumber salsa
- 1½ cups grape tomatoes
- ¼ cup red onion
- ½ cup cucumber—seeded and diced
- ¼ cup fresh cilantro
- 1 tbsp. fresh lime juice
- hummus (store-bought or homemade)
- whole-wheat pitas, if using
For the falafel
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with non-stick spray, or lightly coat it with oil.
Set aside a small bowl of water and add ¼ cup panko breadcrumbs to a small plate.
To the bowl of a food processor, add the garlic cloves and pulse a few times until minced. Add the red onion, cilantro, and parsley and pulse a few more times. Add the chickpeas and process until finely ground (like a coarse dough). Pinch a bit of the mixture between your fingers to ensure it holds together well. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl.
To the large bowl with the chickpea mixture, add the ground flaxseed, ¼ cup panko breadcrumbs, cumin and salt. Mix with a spoon (or your hands) until well combined.
Using a melon baller, or a tablespoon, scoop out a bit of the chickpea mixture, roll it into a ball, and flatten it just a bit (like a mini patty). Repeat until the mixture is gone.
Grab the small bowl of water and plate of panko breadcrumbs that you prepared earlier. Working one at a time, use a pastry brush to brush some water on to both sides of the falafel. Quickly coat both sides of the falafel with the breadcrumbs—I press the falafel into the breadcrumbs one side at a time. Place the falafel onto the prepared baking sheet. Repeat until you’ve coated each falafel bite.
Bake for 15 minutes. Gently flip each falafel bite and bake for 15 more minutes. Remove from oven.
For the tomato-cucumber salsa
To the bowl of a food processor, add the grape tomatoes, red onion, cucumber (see note below), cilantro, and lime juice. Pulse until roughly chopped (don’t mince it). Transfer to a bowl.
You can add the diced cucumber to the salsa afterwards, if you’d like. Or, just process it along with the other ingredients, like I did.
As an appetizer: Top each falafel bite with a teaspoon each of hummus and salsa. Arrange on a platter for serving.
As a main dish: Spread some hummus on the inside of each pita half, tuck in 3-4 falafel bites, and top with desired amount of salsa.
Store leftovers in the refrigerator.
Barely adapted from The Oh She Glows Cookbook