Love falafel but wish it was a bit healthier? Baked rather than fried, this cauliflower falafel will make all your healthy falafel dreams come true. They're a delicious lunch served with flatbreads, dips and salad, can be popped into lunch boxes and are brilliant for baby led weaning.
What is falafel?
Falafel is a middle-eastern dish of spiced mashed chickpeas or fava beans (broad beans), rolled into balls or patties and deep fried. They're usually eaten with a pitta bread or in a flatbread wrap with salad. Falafel is thought to have originated in Egypt, where it's usually made with fava beans.
Falafel are usually made with dried chickpeas, which are soaked overnight and then blended with the other ingredients. They are then deep fried, which cooks them so there's no need to boil them.
How to make falafel with canned chickpeas
Many recipes will tell you that you can't use canned chickpeas to make falafel and that you must use dried pulses. And this is probably true if you want to be authentic.
However, I prefer to make my falafel with canned chickpeas because:
- I am never organised enough to remember to soak the chickpeas overnight.
- I am terrified of deep frying.
- It's just so much easier.
- I can save the aquafaba (chickpea water) to make vegan meringue.
Is falafel healthy?
Sadly traditional falafel isn't really very healthy, as despite containing great ingredients it's usually deep fried. By making baked falafel you won't get that amazing crust on your falafel but you'll still get a very tasty meal that's much healthier.
If you make this baked cauliflower falafel it's even better for you as it has a portion of veg added.
What to eat with falafel
The most common way to eat falafel, at least in my experience, is in a wrap. We are lucky enough to live near a brilliant falafel shop (Falafel in Camberwell - check it out if you're in the area).
Their falafel wraps are legendary. The lunchtime queue sometimes stretches out of the door and onto the street outside.
For just £3.50 (at the time of writing) you get a falafel wrap stuffed full of shredded lettuce, onion, tomato, tahini sauce, garlic, chilli and - of course - falafels.
You can also serve falafel as part of a mezze-style meal. They are lovely with hummus and other dips such as baba ganoush, butternut squash or roasted red pepper dip. Lots of different salads on the side are essential - try my quinoa tabbouleh - and a bean dish (try these baked Greek beans) also works well.
Is falafel vegan?
Yes! Falafel is nearly always suitable for vegans and my baked cauliflower falafel are no exception.
More falafel recipes
Can kids make this recipe?
Absolutely. This is one of my favourite recipes to make with toddlers at my healthy snacks workshops.
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How to make baked cauliflower falafel
Make sure you leave enough time to roast the cauliflower before making this dish. You will need a food processor to make these cauliflower falafel.
You really do need the breadcrumbs to help these falafel stick together so don't be tempted to leave these out. Use gluten free breadcrumbs if needed.
Baked cauliflower falafel
- 1 small cauliflower washed and broken into florets
- 2 tbsp olive oil divided, plus more for brushing
- 400 g tinned chickpeas
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1 tbsp fresh parsley chopped
- 50 g breadcrumbs
- salt optional
- Pre-heat the oven to 180°C (fan)/200°C/gas mark 6.
- Place the cauliflower florets into a baking tray and drizzle with 1 tbsp olive oil. Roast for 20-30 minutes until soft and turning brown.
- Allow to cool.
- Place all the ingredients, including the cooled cauliflower, into a food processor. Pulse until well combined, pausing several times to scrape down the sides.
- With lightly oiled hands shape into balls and place on a lined baking tray. Brush lightly with oil.
- Roast for 20-25 minutes, turning carefully halfway, until golden brown.