Dinner

This Epic Salad Proves That Falafel Doesn’t Need to Be Fried to Be Tasty

We're skipping the deep fryer – but still bringing the flavor – with these oven-baked, sesame-crusted falafel served over salad with a zesty tahini dressing.

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A Middle Eastern staple, falafel are typically deep fried as small croquettes so that the chickpea-and-spice mixture becomes hard and crusty on the outside and perfectly moist on the inside. But as tasty as falafel are, frying isn’t the healthiest culinary technique. But don’t worry, these baked falafel patties deliver the same satisfying flavor as the deep-fried versions.

Baked falafel is possible

Our recipe is a twist on the traditional with a delicious, not-fried alternative – you simply form the chickpea mixture into patties and bake them on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Our version is crusted with sesame seeds, both for added crunch as well as adding flavor to the final dish. We also snuck some spinach into the falafel mixture for added fiber and phytonutrients.

Traditionally, falafel are accompanied by tahini, another staple of Middle Eastern cooking that is used to make hummus while also used as the star ingredient in dressings and dipping sauces. Made of ground sesame seeds, tahini can be found in most supermarkets, health food stores and Middle Eastern markets. Tahini comes in various consistencies from liquidy to a thick paste. We prefer to use the liquidy varieties as they are easier to work with for dressings and sauces. In this dressing recipe, we lighten the tahini paste with lemon juice while adding a kick of garlic and the delicacy of chopped dill.

The baked falafel are served over a salad to round out the meal with the cool crunchy texture of baby spinach, grated carrot and red onion, topped with nutrient-packed sunflower seeds. A squeeze of fresh lemon juice adds a brightness to the mix.

The whole recipe takes just 40 minutes to prepare, and when assembled, all the elements create a healthy, colorful lunch or dinner for two.

Baked Falafel Spinach Salad with Lemon Dill Tahini

Servings
2
Prep Time
20 min
Duration
40 min

Ingredients

Falafel

  • 1 15-oz BPA-free can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup baby spinach
  • ¼ red onion, roughly chopped
  • ½ cup fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • ¼ cup fresh cilantro
  • 1 clove garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp each ground cumin and coriander
  • ¼ tsp each sea salt and ground black pepper
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • ¼ cup sesame seeds

Tahini sauce

  • 3 tbsp tahini
  • ½ lemon, juiced
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped dill
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • sea salt, to taste

Salad

  • 3 cups baby spinach
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • ¼ red onion, sliced
  • 3 tbsp sunflower seeds, toasted
  • 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ lemon, juiced

Preparation

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Prepare falafel: To a food processor, add all falafel ingredients except sesame seeds. Process until combined but still has some texture, about 40 seconds.
  3. Place the sesame seeds in a small bowl. Using a ¼-cup scoop, shape the falafel into small patties, about ½-inch thick. Sprinkle each patty with the seeds on both sides, pressing to adhere if needed. Place onto prepared sheet (the mixture is fairly wet at this point). 
  4. Mist falafels with cooking spray. Bake for 25 minutes, flipping halfway through, until the falafel is golden and firm to the touch. 
  5. Meanwhile, make tahini sauce: In a small bowl, whisk together all ingredients, adding 2 to 3 tbsp water to reach a thin consistency.
  6. Prepare salad: To a bowl, add spinach, carrot, onion and sunflower seeds. Drizzle with oil and lemon juice. Top with falafels and sauce.   

Nutrition Information

  • Serving Size ½ of recipe
  • Calories 669
  • Carbohydrate Content 56 g
  • Cholesterol Content 93 mg
  • Fat Content 42 g
  • Fiber Content 19 g
  • Protein Content 26 g
  • Saturated Fat Content 6 g
  • Sodium Content 806 mg
  • Sugar Content 9 g
  • Monounsaturated Fat Content 18 g
  • Polyunsaturated Fat Content 15 g