Baked Green Falafel with Three Dipping Sauces

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Baked green falafel, studded with fresh herbs and pistachios, are a treat on their own. But for maximum fun, serve with this selection of three dipping sauces - green mint chutney, harissa tomato sauce and tahini yogurt. 

A glimpse inside my head during a typical dinner out:

Woah, check out this menu. I see all my favorite things. How on earth will I make a decision? Mmmm, I want it all. Oh look, the trout is local. I bet it's so fresh. And it comes with pesto too! Sold. Woah woah woah, the pasta has brie AND Brussels sprouts. Definitely getting it! OMG wait! The arugula salad has literally everything I love on it! Gah, but I'm so hungry, then I have to order something else to fill me up. Hold up - the macaroni and cheese comes with FIVE types of cheese?! Oh, case closed. I wonder what Scott is getting. Damnit, he already called the macaroni. Ugh! I wonder how many bites I can get away with stealing before he notices? Okay, okay, back to the menu. What's that lady eating? It looks good! Ohhh and I like her shoes. Those would be perfect with my navy dress. Stop Rachael, focus. Trout or pasta....trout or pasta. I wonder what Scott thinks I should get? Both look good. Well duh. That's no help. Quick Rachael, make a decision. The waiter is coming back now! "M'am, may I take your order?"

"May I have the chicken please?"

Ugh, I should have ordered the pasta. 

I'm so indecisive when it comes to ordering food. Either nothing on the menu looks good (which turns me into a pouty teenager) or I want everything. I seriously wish having a hallow leg was a real thing so I could order all the things and have a place to put it.

When I was trying to come up with a sauce to go with my baked green falafel, I was struck with a similar case of indecision. But lucky for me, at home I can make all the things and no one will stop me. The week before, I created a spicy harissa tomato sauce I was completely smitten with, but I also had some yogurt and tahini to use up. And ever since I made this cilantro and mint chutney last year, I basically throw it in anything that might remotely pair well with it. So, with no one to judge other than my husband (who knows better) and my dogs (who could care less), I gave in and made all three. No regrets! Certainly, you could save time and make just one, but what's the fun in that? Remember "suicide's," the soda fountain drinks made by mixing everything? It's kinda like that, minus the sugar rush.

With these falafel, I found two tricks to getting a crispy texture without deep frying. Falafel is typically made by blending soaked, uncooked chickpeas with the other ingredients then deep frying, creating a perfectly crispy outside and tender, but textured inside. Every baked recipe I've tried calls for canned chickpeas, which creates a totally edible and delicious falafel, but a softer, creamier texture than I would prefer. This time, I cooked the beans al dente (a happy accident), which along with the chickpeas, added great texture.

I served the falafel over a bed of arugula with all three sauces to mix and match, but you could also stuff them into a pita with plenty of cucumbers and greens.

Green Falafel
Author: Rachael Hartley, RD, LD, CDE
Serves: Serves 5-6
Feel free to substitute walnuts, pepitas or even almonds if that's what you have on hand. You could also use cilantro instead of mint.
Ingredients
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 1 cup pistachios
  • 1/2 cup mint
  • 1/2 cup pistachios
  • 3 cups chickpeas, cooked al dente
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon chickpea flour (or any other flour is fine too)
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili flakes
  • 3/4 teaspoons salt
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. In a food processor, blend garlic, shallot, pistachios, mint and chickpeas until finely minced. Add chickpeas, olive oil, flour, spices and salt and blend until combined.
  3. Spray a baking sheet lightly with olive oil. Form golf ball sized balls with the falafel mix and place evenly on the baking sheet. Spray falafel evenly with olive oil. Bake 40-45 minutes, flipping halfway until lightly browned with a crispy exterior.
Harissa Tomato Sauce
Author: Rachael Hartley, RD, LD, CDE
Serves: 1 cup
Ingredients
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons harissa
  • 1 cup tomato puree
Instructions
  1. Heat olive oil in a small pot on medium heat. Add garlic and saute until fragrant, about 30-60 seconds. Add harissa and saute an additional 30-60 seconds until fragrant. Add tomato puree, bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes. Remove to bowl and refrigerate to room temperature before serving.
Tahini Yogurt Sauce
Author: Rachael Hartley, RD, LD, CDE
Serves: Makes 3/4 cup
Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup plain organic yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons tahini
  • Juice from 1/4 lemon (a little more than a tablespoons)
Instructions
  1. Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl. Season with salt.
Mint and Cilantro Chutney
Author: Rachael Hartley, RD, LD, CDE
Serves: 2/3 cup
Adapted from [url href="http://www.mynewroots.org/site/2012/09/whole-roasted-tandoori-cauliflower-with-mint-chutney/"]My New Roots.[/url]
Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 packed cups cilantro
  • 1/2 packed cup mint
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1 dried red chili or 1/4 teaspoon crushed chili flakes
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1/4 cup coconut cream
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon honey
Instructions
  1. Blend all ingredients in a food processor until they form a pesto-like sauce. Season to taste with salt.