This part of my life began when my very sick partner was diagnosed with Celiac. Even the slightest exposure to gluten can make him very ill for several days, so I have pursued gluten-free options with thorough aggression. In the U.S. a recent surge of gluten awareness means we have more choices than ever, but it still means hunting and analyzing and tracking down parent companies. After several years now of doing so, I want to share my tricks and tips with others who are still struggling.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Recipe Box: Baked Falafel with Tzatziki Sauce

I try to walk a line between fresh ingredients and convenience.  Some things (like fresh parsley) make a big difference to flavor and are worth getting fresh whenever possible.  Others (like chickpeas) work just as well from a can, and you don't have to start the day BEFORE you are craving these delicious little patties of garbanzo goodness.

Falafel is one of those foods that are claimed by multiple countries, and which have very loyal adherents to specific ingredients.  Cilantro or parsley?  Egg or no egg?  Coriander or cumin?  There are strong regional differences between Falafels, but no recipe is really "correct."  It's about what tastes good to you.  I like a really strongly-flavored, garlicky falafel.  There's a lot of fudge room in the recipe as well.  If you add more or less onion, it will survive just fine.   


1 small bunch fresh parsley (1/2 cup chopped.  You will need an additional 1/4 cup for tzatziki sauce)
1 can chickpeas or garbanzo beans (they are the same thing.  You will get about 1 cup beans, drained)
1/2 small white onion (about 1/4-1/3 cup, chopped)
2 cloves fresh garlic (you will need an additional clove for tzatziki sauce)
dash lemon juice
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
dash salt, black pepper
1/4 cup gluten-free bread crumbs (I use Udi's, but see below for substitutes)
1/2 tsp baking powder

4 tablespoons olive oil for baking

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Oven rack should be in center of oven or just below.  If it is too high, the bottoms will not brown.

If you own a food processor, this becomes easy.  Just process everything but the baking powder and spices until it is like wet sand, then mix in the spices and baking powder.

If you're like me and don't have the kitchen space, mince the garlic, onion, and parsley.  Add everything but the baking powder together.  Use your hands to knead and squish until you have reduced the chickpeas to mush with pieces in it.  This will be messy, but also kinda fun!  Mix in the baking powder last.

Brush a rimmed baking pan/cookie sheet with 2 tablespoons olive oil.  Form the dough into small flat patties of no more than 1/4 cup each.  Brush the tops with the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil. 

Bake at 375 for 15 minutes, then carefully flip and bake for another 15.  Make tzatziki sauce while baking.  Serve warm with sauce in a gluten-free wrap or salad.

Tzatziki Sauce

1/3 cup sour cream or plain greek yogurt
1/3 cup grated or shredded cucumber (peel on)
1 finely minced garlic clove
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
dash lemon juice

Mix all together and let sit in fridge for at least 20 minutes for flavors to blend.  Keeps well for 2 days, stir before serving.  

*Breadcrumb substitute:  I love Udi brand's bread crumbs, but they're not available everywhere.  A toasted and crumbled slice of gluten-free sandwich bread would work well.  You can also use 1/4 cup sweet white rice flour, 1/4 cup chickpea flour, or 1/4 cup bean flour instead.  Plain white rice flour would not work, as you need it to work as a binding agent.  A gluten-free all-purpose flour blend with lots of starch should work well.  If using gluten-free Bisquick, omit the 1/2 teaspoon baking powder called for in the recipe. 

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