Get ready to freshen up your vegan falafel recipe with these delicious green chickpea falafels!
Falafels were one of the first vegan recipes I made. I hadn’t ever tried falafels in a restaurant, as growing up in Newfoundland there wasn’t a wide offering of cuisines at the time. So, how did I happen upon trying falafels?
Well, it was through my first vegetarian cookbook, The Moosewood Cookbook (now a 40th-anniversary edition, how remarkable)! That cookbook was charming. It didn’t have full-color print or photographs, as most cookbooks now have – and are expected to have. Rather, it was hand-written, illustrated, and first self-published by Mollie Katzen in 1974.
I loved the personality and intimate feel of that book. It didn’t need photos. It was inviting and engaging through her beautiful illustrations and handwriting. It wasn’t fully vegan, but I wasn’t either when I first picked up the book. Still, I tinkered with some fully vegan recipes, including her falafels.
A Vegan Falafel Story
I remember making them once when extended family was at my mother’s house. My uncle walked in and joked with my sister “looks like baby shit“.
I kid you not.
At the time it was hurtful and insulting. Afterward, I realized it came from a place of lack of knowledge – and perhaps feeling threatened.
Regardless, I made them and they were delicious! And those that were open-minded enough to try them that day also enjoyed them.
That recipe converted me. I loved the new flavors I was experiencing with the cumin and cilantro, the hit of spice that was intriguing but not overpowering.
Later, I tried falafels in a restaurant. They were (are) very different than homemade! Mostly because they are deep-fried, but also because they can be too salty.
And, every time I’ve bought pre-made falafels I have the same experience: too salty, heavily spiced.
So, I make falafels at home. And, until now, I always used regular cooked chickpeas in falafels.
What are Green Chickpeas? Why Green Chickpea Falafels?
And then one day I discovered frozen green chickpeas. I was intrigued and excited to try them in recipes.
Green chickpeas do not have a noticeable ‘beany’ flavor. They have a more subtle, neutral taste. Akin to potato or water chestnut, but with a texture somewhere between green peas and edamame.
Vegan Falafel Q&A
Yes, traditional falafels do not have any animal ingredients. However, sometimes they are served with sauces that include dairy. Also, packaged falafel mixes can sometimes contain dairy, so always read labels (plus those packaged mixes don’t have a very fresh flavor).
Falafels are made with chickpeas (and authentically dried chickpeas), as well as herbs and spice. Those ingredients are very healthy. Traditional falafels are deep-fried, which, isn’t particularly healthy (but okay for an occasional restaurant meal).
Most often, falafels are enjoyed in pita bread with tomatoes, cucumbers, and sometimes pickled onions or olives, and paired with hummus and/or tahini sauce. However, you can also enjoy falafels on top of greens with the additional veggies, and drizzled with tahini sauce.
Sometimes falafels include flour to hold them together. This recipe doesn’t need any flour to bind!
Falafel lovers will tell you that authentic falafels should be crispy (deep-fried) and green on the inside. That green color comes from fresh herbs like cilantro and parsley. These green falafels are green through and through and also include those fragrant fresh herbs.
They are harvested at different times. Green chickpeas are immature chickpeas and flash-frozen to seal that freshness. They offer some differences in nutritional profile, but mostly in color and flavor.
Think of them along the lines of frozen green peas. How you might use green peas in dishes, try substituting green chickpeas. I like them fresher, either just warmed in boiled water and drained to use in salads or other dishes, or briefly cooked. When cooked for longer times they lose their vibrant green color (much like other green vegetables like broccoli and green beans).
Not to worry, I offer a variation substituting a combination of green peas and shelled edamame.
Tahini is the puree made from sesame seeds, much like almond butter is made from almonds. Read more about tahini and my preferences for brands here. Traditionally, falafels are served with tahini sauce. If you don’t care for it, you can always serve with another condiment of choice. A cashew cream or vegan sour cream would be delicious. However, if you haven’t tried my SMOKY TAHINI SAUCE, well, it’s a bit of a game-changer. Give it a go!
These green chickpea falafels bring the best of both elements together: the freshness and color of the green chickpeas with the alluring flavors of falafels. Definitely serve them with the Smoky Tahini Sauce – the pairing is divine!
I think you will enjoy this new falafel recipe. Do report back after trying these Green Chickpea Falafels! x Dreena
p.s. Just over a month to pre-order DREENA’S KIND KITCHEN and receive your FREE gifts and the chance to 1 of 4 big prizes!
- 5 cups frozen green chickpeas thawed (see note)
- 1 cup loose packed fresh cilantro leaves
- 1/2 cup loose packed fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
- 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
- 2 1/2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 3 medium-large cloves garlic
- 2 tbsp coconut milk from can, thick cream
- 1 tbsp ground cumin
- 1 tbsp ground coriander
- 1 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 tsp lemon zest
- 1/4 – 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (optional; adjust to desired heat
Smoky Tahini Sauce (see note for recipe link)
- In a food processor, add all ingredients and process until mixture breaks down and then begins to come together. The falafel mixture will look rather uniform in color/texture, and should hold together when pressed. Preheat oven to 400 degrees while mixture chills. Take small scoops of the mixture, about 1 – 1 1/2 tbsp (using a cookie scoop is helpful). Place falafel balls on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Press down lightly to flatten slightly. Bake for 13-15 minutes, turning once through baking, until falafels begin to firm (they will still be tender inside) and golden in spots around the edges. (See note for pan-frying option.) Remove, and serve drizzled with the tahini sauce. Makes about 34-38 small falafels.
falafels images credit: Angela MacNeil