Gluten-free living is short on quick, portable lunches. It’s not like the corner deli can offer to put your sandwich filling inside an arepa. Luckily, in New York, for every corner deli, there is also a freakishly fragrant halal truck sitting right outside its door. As I mentioned in my guide to eating out gluten-free, Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisines are great go-to’s. It might not be quite as portable without the requisite pita pocket, but you can still easily pick up a plate of schwarma or halal with rice and condiments on a whim in Manhattan.
Falafel in theory is a great gluten-free item from this culinary repertoire. A lot of recipes don’t use flour. But you have to be careful. I like to stick to Taim, my favorite falafel of all time, which I already went on about in last week’s post. Taim offers three types of falafel, all gluten-free. The spicy harissa flavor is the one I crave on a daily basis. I attempted to recreate it earlier this summer in Josh’s kitchen while he was still at work. In general, I try to avoid deep frying at all costs, and this experience did nothing to quell my fears. Upon contact with the hot oil, my falafel balls fizzled and spattered until they were reduced to nothingness, leaving me with a thick skillet full of hot oil and burnt falafel particles.
Fool me once, shame on you, fried falafel. The next time, I turned to my oven.
Of course, nothing really tastes quite as good when it’s baked instead of fried. But these falafel did the job. The chickpea mixture, packed with fresh herbs and laced with spicy red harissa paste, was so flavorful, you didn’t miss the extra crunch of the fried exterior. I served them as part of a casual weekday dinner for Essie alongside Israeli salad. And to make up for the un-fattiness of the baked falafel, I decided to whip together tahini with a little bit of mayonnaise, and drizzle the aioli over the top of each cute little pattie.
This falafel didn’t exactly turn out to be the answer for that portable lunch or dinner I’m always after. But in the comfort of your small, gluten-free kitchen, it doesn’t need to be.
From my kitchen, baking not frying, to yours,
Phoebe, THE QUARTER-LIFE COOK
Spicy Baked Falafel with Tahini Aioli (Gluten-Free)
Makes 20 small balls (serves 2-4)
1 large shallot, roughly chopped
4 cloves garlic, peeled
1 can chickpeas, drained
¼ cup cilantro leaves
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons harissa
2 tablespoons chickpea flour (you can use regular flour in you’re not GF)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
In a small food processor, pulse the shallot and the garlic until finely chopped. Add the chickpeas, cilantro leaves, cumin, coriander, salt, and harissa. Blend until the chickpeas are coarsely chopped and the other ingredients are incorporated. You don’t want it to be completely smooth and paste-like.
With a spatula, transfer the chickpea mixture to a medium mixing bowl. Add the flour and stir until incorporated. Form the mixture into 1 inch patties and place them on an oiled, parchment-lined baking sheet. They wont expand like cookies, so you don’t have to worry too much about spacing them out. You should have 16-20 patties.
Bake in the oven for 20 minutes, flipping them halfway through the cooking process so both sides brown. Serve alongside Israeli Salad (recipe follows) and drizzle with Tahini Aioli (recipe follows) and Green Harissa.
Makes 1/2 – 1 cup aioli
¼ cup tahini
¼ cup mayo
1 lemon, juiced
1 garlic clove
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ cup water
Combine all ingredients in a small food processor and blend until smooth. Aioli will keep in the fridge for up to 2 weeks in an airtight container.
2 tomatoes, cored, seeded, and diced
1 seedless cucumber, diced
2 tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
Combine all ingredients in a medium mixing bowl. Toss to combine. Taste for seasoning and add more salt as needed. Allow to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes to an hour, stirring occasionally. Serve alongside falafel and tahini aioli.