Baked Falafel + Garlic Tzatziki

Great falafel balls of fire- these little gems are tender yet crispy, deliciously savory, and every bit as mouthwatering as the falafel you’ll overpay for in a small sweaty restaurant where you find a hair in your hummus and the bathroom smells like a rabbit hutch.

Falafel is basically a mixture made of stardust, pieces of heaven, and unicorn giggles. Just kidding, it’s actually a dough made out of mashed chickpeas, fresh herbs, flavorful spices, and fulfilled dreams. That means they’re full of delicious plant-based protein and fiber (just 1 cup of chickpeas gives you 15 grams of protein and 13 grams of fiber) along with a whole host of body-nourishing antioxidants.

While the origins of this dish are heavily disputed, what’s not up for debate is how fantastic they taste in my mouth. I wrap these tasty balls in warm pita bread, throw them over a green salad, or fill my bathtub with them and jump in with a bib. Paired with tart, tangy, cooling, and garlic-y tzatziki, thou and thy fork shalt not go wrong.

Usually falafel is fried but these babies are baked. It’s 2017 guys, chill, it’s legal now.

Speaking of the new year, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about all the inspiring people I have in my little life. My good friend Alex Starr, of over, wait, ew, what? Really?- 14 years??- yikes, is up to some seriously rad stuff. I remember when we used to record Pokemon videos on his front lawn and look at us now, all grow-ed up.

Over a year ago Alex and I recorded a podcast in my apartment over coffee and pancakes and explored topics ranging from self-love and sugar addiction to breaking social norms and the ubiquitous allure of man buns. Alex has a brand new website www.alexstarr.com where he talks to people from all over the world about their perspective on life, love, work, and everything in between.  Each episode includes a healthy dose of Alex’s own charismatic personality, which is every bit as genuine as it is hilarious.

Alex was kind enough to give me a shout out in his latest podcast where he talks with Kamil Ravikant, author of some incredibly inspiring books which you can find here.  Kamil’s latest novel Rebirth helped him cope with the loss of his father– perhaps that’s the next read for me.  If you’ve never checked out what Alex is up to, head to the link above (our podcast is #15 in case you feel so inclined to hear my own voice and nasally annoying laugh for an hour).  Thank you Alex, for always being a supportive friend, for continuously encouraging me to pursue my passions, and for not posting embarrassing photos of me on social media from the 9th grade when I thought I was destined to be a famous bass guitarist. Cheers to good friends and really, really good falafel.

 Baked Falafel + Garlic Tzatziki

Makes ~16 medium falafel balls and 1 1/2 cups tzatziki 

For the Baked Falafel:

  • 1/2 cup loosely packed parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed

For the Garlic Tzatziki:

  • 1 cup plain whole fat Greek yogurt (2% works, too)
  • 2-3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 3 tablespoons fresh dill, finely minced
  • 4 tablespoons fresh chives, finely minced
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/2-3/4 cup cucumber, peeled and finely chopped
  1. Grab your food processor; it’s going to be your right-hand man here. Place ingredients into the food processor beginning with parsley first. Then layer each additional ingredient on top of the parsley in this order: onion, garlic, spices, peppers and salt, lemon juice, baking soda, then chickpeas last. Pulse until falafel dough begins to come together…we want it mixed and not pureed! Do not overmix (ie do not turn your food processor on Low and walk away to pluck your nose hairs)– all you need is a few pulses. The mixture shouldn’t be wet nor should it be crumbly…instead you’re aiming for a semi-sticky balance in between the two.
  2. Once you’re done pulsing, use your hands to grab the dough and roll it into about 16 golf balls. Place on a plate and refrigerate for 20-30 minutes.
  3. While balls are chillin’ preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line a couple baking sheets with parchment paper and then spray lightly with oil to coat pans.
  4. When balls are sufficiently chilled, place evenly spread out on baking sheets. Use your hands to slightly flatten each ball and bake for 10-12 minutes or until lightly golden brown.
  5. While falafel balls are baking, whisk together all Garlic Tzatziki ingredients in a small bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste and set Garlic Tzatziki aside.
  6. Remove falafel balls from oven after the 10-12 minutes are up (or until they look golden brown). Next, flip each falafel ball over, and bake again for another 7-10 minutes or until the other side is golden brown. Remove balls from oven and let cool. Serve warm with Garlic Tzatziki!

*Drool-worthy serving suggestion: Wrap 3 Baked Falafel balls along with a healthy dollop of Garlic Tzatziki, a spoonful or two of hummus, and some pickled veggies inside a warmed pita pocket or lavash flatbread and devour.

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