Brain-Boosting Falafel Bowl with Lemon Tahini Dressing

Deep-fried falafel can be a total calorie bomb. But this baked falafel still gets crispy with equally satisfying results. It's super easy, full of flavor and a really healthy, protein-filled vegan lunch!

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Photography by Bailey Larue

You may know that a Mediterranean diet — rich in fruits, vegetables, olive oil, legumes, whole grains and fish — offers many heart-healthy benefits. But a Mediterranean diet may also benefit your brain. Studies show people who closely follow a Mediterranean diet are less likely to have Alzheimer’s disease than people who don’t follow the diet.


4 to 6
Prep Time
25 min
Cook Time
20 min
45 min



  • 4 cloves garlic

  • 1 small red onion, cut into chunks

  • 1½ cups dried chickpeas, soaked overnight in the refrigerator, drained

  • ½ cup fresh flat-leaf parsley

  • ½ cup fresh cilantro

  • 3 tbsp olive oil

  • ½ tsp ground cumin

  • ½ tsp Za’atar (Tip: If you can’t find this Middle Eastern spice mix, you can use ¼ tsp each dried thyme and oregano.)

  • ¼ tsp ground coriander   

  • ¼ tsp ground cayenne pepper
  • 1½ tsp sea salt

  • 6 cups romaine lettuce or salad greens

  • ¼ head red cabbage, thinly sliced

  • 1 cucumber, thinly sliced

  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved

  • sea salt, to taste


  • ½ cup tahini

  • ½ cup fresh lemon juice

  • 1 tbsp olive oil


  1. Preheat oven to 375°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Prepare falafel: Place garlic in a food processor and pulse to chop. Add onion and pulse to chop. Add soaked chickpeas, parsley, cilantro, oil, cumin, Za’atar, coriander, cayenne and salt. Process until smooth, stopping to scrape down sides of bowl as needed.
  3. Take 2 to 3 tbsp of mixture, roll it into a ball and then pat it flat; place on prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining mixture. Bake for about 25 minutes, flipping halfway through, until golden.
  4. Meanwhile, make dressing: In a small bowl, combine tahini, lemon juice, oil and ¼ cup water, or as needed, adding water a bit at a time to get desired consistency. Season with salt.
  5. To a large bowl or platter, add lettuce. Top with falafel patties, cabbage, cucumber and tomatoes. Drizzle dressing over top or serve alongside.

Read more about the Mediterranean Diet:

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