Friday, July 26, 2013

Baked Chickpea and Kale Falafels! (Vegan, Gluten-Free)

I had a build-up of kale in my fridge, from getting them several weeks in a row in my CSA farm share. Some of the bunches were starting to look a little sad, so I needed more creative ways to use them up than just in smoothies. (Once they start wilting, they aren't nearly as good for kale chips. They burn faster. Plus the varieties I had weren't the nice ruffly ones that make the best chips.) Due to my inability to organize or plan anything, I also happened to have 5 cans of chickpeas in my cupboard, and was out of all the other types of beans I try and keep on hand. So I googled for kale and chickpea recipes!

These guys are very quick and easy to make. So easy that I made a second batch while the first was cooking, since I could tell from tasting the mixture that I'd want more! I had to change the recipe a bit, because, really. Who has tahini laying around all the time? Plus I don't like the extreme bitterness of lemon juice in store-bought hummus, and the ingredient list looked very similar.
You can often use vinegar instead of lemon juice, and I know I'm happy to eat vinegar "plain," with a little oil for dipping bread or salad dressings. But I don't know anyone who's happy to eat lemon juice straight-up! So I did a little of both, as a compromise.

Baked Kale and Chickpea Falafels Recipe - Simple, gluten-free, vegan

Healthy Baked Chickpea and Kale Falafels

2 cups rinsed and torn kale leaves (stems removed)
15-ounce can chickpeas/garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed*
3 medium or large cloves of garlic (or 3-4 tsp minced)
1 1/2 Tbsp sesame seeds, ground (or use tahini)
1 heaping Tbsp gluten-free oat flour (or whiz up your own from 1 1/2 Tbsp gluten-free quick oats)
2 Tbsp lemon juice (or sub vinegar for half or all for a less sour/bitter taste. I used a clear balsamic)
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper (if desired)
(optional) oil or spray to grease the baking pan and tops of falafels

*draining and rinsing off the liquid in the can helps reduce the amount of gas the beans cause. I hiiiiighly recommend it, even though some nutrients may get lost in the sludge. ("Beans beans the musical fruit - the more you eat the more you toot...")

Preheat oven to 375 F

Combine chickpeas, garlic, ground sesame seeds, oat flour, lemon juice and/or vinegar, cumin, chili powder, salt, and pepper in a food processor, pulsing to mix. (You may need to scrape sides periodically.)

Add in the chopped kale and pulse until all is well combined. This may take a while, with the stopping and scraping to get everything blended.

The original recipe I adapted to make these to suit my taste (and ingredients on-hand!) has you add the oat flour later, at this point, in a mixing bowl. But I'd whizzed them together with the sesame seeds in my coffee grinder (dedicated for grinding gluten-free flours and such) in the hopes the oat flour would help the seed paste not stick and gum up the works (success, by the way!) So the oat flour went in with everything else at the beginning. They turned out fine, so no idea why it would be added later, getting another bowl dirty.

Grease a large baking pan (I used parchment paper and spritzed it a little just to get some oil on the bottoms of the patties.)

Form the mixture into patties and place them on the baking sheet.
The "dough" is a bit sticky, but not too sticky or hard to work with. I was able to make heart shapes by hand, but I'm sure you could roll the dough out on a piece of parchment paper, with another piece of paper on top (to prevent sticking to the rolling pin) and use cookie cutters to make shapes and a spatula to scoop them up and transfer to the baking sheet. Or just form them inside a cookie cutter, right there on the pan. (Be sure to remove cutters before baking!)
You want them fairly thin, no more than 1/4" thick.

I spritzed the tops of my patties with oil as well, but you certainly don't have to. With the parchment paper, you could easily make these with no added oils!

Bake at 375 F for 20 minutes, then carefully flip them. Bottoms should be a nice golden brown. (Teehee. I couldn't even type that without giggling.)
Bake for an additional 10 minutes, then allow to cool slightly before serving.
If you have any left over, store in a sealed container in the fridge for up to a week or so. They pack great in lunches, although split in half easily.

These would be great with a variety of dips, or top them with salsa or a fresh chopped veggie slaw, or anything else you might put on a cracker or tortilla chip. I, however, am not that organized, so we just at them plain the first time I made them (the girls had ketchup for dipping,) and I use a dairy-free Ranch dressing for dipping when packing in my lunches.
Those aren't cookies in the top right compartment! They're leftover Bake Chickpea-Kale Falafels!
 Falafels in upper right compartment under and around the marshmallows. Ranch dressing in Mini Dipper container

The Verdict
These were a success! Hubby and I enjoyed them, and my picky one didn't have any complaints after actually trying hers, which, trust me, is high praise indeed! She liked the slight lemon flavor, and (when asked) said she would not only eat them again, but might also eat them in a lunch sometime. Maybe. "But not tomorrow."
The Baby eats pretty much anything still. I love that age. *sigh*


  1. Wonderful recipe Kendra! We're always looking for more delish ways to enjoy Kale. This is perfect. Thank you!

  2. These really were so easy to make! I've had this recipe pinned forever, and can't believe I just now got around to making it. I love throwing stuff in the food processor and calling it a day. We had a bunch of spinach that needed to be used up, so I subbed that in place of the kale. It blended easily, and I just used a scoop to get my mixture onto the baking sheet, then patted it down with a spoon. Looking forward to eating them for lunch.


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