Baked Winter Squash Falafel – 2 Ways

Sometimes you feel like a (chick)pea. Sometimes you don’t. This could be a mantra when it comes to falafel. Or, could it?

The moment I came across the Baked Sweet Potato Falafel over at the Pink Apron, I immediately added them to my “to make” list. I’ve eaten falafel plenty of time, though not recently as I just haven’t ventured to find the great falafel near where I live (I’ve heard it does exist, though.) And as you probably figured, there’s not much frying going on in my home, in the 51 weeks per year that it’s not Hanukkah. This wasn’t even the first time I’d seen a recipe for baked falafel, but it was the first time I was enticed enough to try. Other recipes for baked falafel had me thinking, “there’s no way these could come out close enough to the real thing to be worthy of my time.” These sweet potato falafel, however, were already deviating enough from the norm, that I wouldn’t necessarily be expecting “real” falafel, so it would be worth a shot. That, and the fact that Kelly’s falafel looked deliciously crisp.

So I made the falafel, almost the same way Kelly did, with one semi-minor change. As I often do, I swapped butternut squash for the sweet potato. Sweet potato has many things going for it, but squash has a lot less calories and carbohydrates per serving, so it fits my nutritional needs a little better. I thought about using canned pumpkin puree, since that would be easier – there would be no need to peel, seed, and roast a squash to get required one cup of mashed veggie. But I had a slight fear that the pumpkin would be too wet, so I went ahead with roasting the squash. As promised, these turned out really darn good. The spice combination was perfect, and they had a crunchy exterior and tender inside. We had them for dinner atop a big chopped salad of romaine, onions, tomatoes, cucumbers, roasted beets, and chickpeas, all drizzled in a yogurt-tahini dressing. And later that week my husband enjoyed them wrapped inside a Joseph’s low-carb lavash for lunch.

And I still had some of that yogurt. And some pumpkin puree in the fridge. Which made me wonder – should I give it another shot with the pumpkin? Try and make this recipe one (well, actually a few) steps easier?

I mentioned the recipe to my good friend and cooking partner-in-crime, who happened to be coming over that weekend, and who also happens to eat a gluten-free diet. I thought I’d do my re-make of the recipe to share with her, but then I realized on little problem: it calls for bulgur. Not ok for celiacs. I had been so excited about the idea of incorporating winter squash into my falafel and baking it, that I didn’t even notice it lacks the traditional falafel ingredient – chickpeas! So I went back to the drawing board and decided to try a different route altogether, to test out my pumpkin idea, to achieve crunchy baked falafel, and have it be gluten-free too. I pretty much took a classic falafel recipe and added pumpkin, and followed the instructions for baking from the first recipe.

The result? Also very delicious! And a bit more reminiscent of classic falafel, with a slightly sweet and earthy undertone. I added a step of cooking the pumpkin a bit on the stove top to dehydrate it, but I’m not even sure that was necessary, because I found myself adding a little bit of water to help the mixture work through the food processor. So next time (and there will be one) I’ll just skip that.

These recipes are very similar nutritionally (although the chickpea version has a bit more fiber and protein), and we honestly really enjoyed them both. I didn’t bother to take a picture of the second because it looks almost just like the first. Which one you make might just depend on whether you have bulgur or chickpeas in the pantry, and whether you want the falafel to be gluten-free or not. I’d probably stick with the second one because I do really love chickpeas, but I’d never even have thought to make these had I not come across the bulgur and sweet potato recipe first!

Printable Recipes

Baked Winter Squash Falafel
for when you don’t feel like a (chick)pea!
Adapted from
The Pink Apron

1/2 cup bulgur wheat
3/4 cup low sodium chicken or vegetable broth
1 cup cooked, mashed butternut squash

2 tablespoons nonfat milk
1 garlic clove, minced
3 tablespoons fresh Italian parsley, divided
2 tablespoons chickpea flour
3 tablespoons panko breadcrumbs
1/8th teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Combine the bulgur and broth in a saucepan. Set aside for 10-15 minutes, or until bulgur has absorbed some of the broth. Heat mixture over medium heat and once a boil has been achieved, turn the heat to low and cook until no water remains, stirring occasionally.

Stir together the milk, roasted squash, garlic and parsley.

In a food processor, pulse together the chickpea flour, breadcrumbs, and seasonings. Add the squash mixture and the cooked bulgur and pulse until evenly combined.

Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper. Use a small cookie scoop to portion the mixture, and roll into balls with wet hands. Drop the falafel onto the baking sheet. Bake 40-45 minutes, flipping the falafel halfway through.

Nutritional Info
Servings Per Recipe: 4
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 159.9
Total Fat: 1.1 g
Cholesterol: 0.2 mg
Sodium: 128.4 mg
Total Carbs: 33.7 g
Dietary Fiber: 5.2 g
Protein: 5.1 g

Baked Pumpkin Falafel
For when you feel like a (chick)pea!

1 can chickpeas, drained & rinsed
1 cup pumpkin puree
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 tbsp chopped parsley
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1/4 cup chickpea flour
generous pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Combine the chickpeas and pumpkin a food processor, and pulse a few times to combine (larger chunks of chickpeas may remain, but this is ok because you are going to pulse some more.) Add remaining ingredients and pulse several more times, until mixture is evenly combined.

Use a small cookie scoop to portion the mixture, and roll into balls with wet hands. Drop the falafel onto the baking sheet. Bake 40-45 minutes, flipping the falafel halfway through.

Nutritional Info
Servings Per Recipe: 4
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 148.8
Total Fat: 2.9 g
Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
Sodium: 323.5 mg
Total Carbs: 29.0 g
Dietary Fiber: 10.4 g
Protein: 8.4 g

Yogurt Tahini Sauce

1 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
3 tbsp tahini
juice from 1/2 lemon
2 tbsp finely chopped parsley
1 tsp ground cumin
freshly ground salt, to taste

Whisk or blend all ingredients until smooth; adjust seasonings to taste.

Nutritional Info
Servings Per Recipe: 8
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 52.6
Total Fat: 3.1 g
Cholesterol: 1.9 mg
Sodium: 17.9 mg
Total Carbs: 2.9 g
Dietary Fiber: 0.6 g
Protein: 3.9 g

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19 Responses to “Baked Winter Squash Falafel – 2 Ways”

  1. 1

    TJ — February 4, 2010 @ 3:59 pm Reply

    I recently made some chick pea patties-but they are really crumbly and hard to cook without breaking them. Yours look firmer. Thanks for sharing the recipe! :)

  2. 2

    Joanne — February 4, 2010 @ 6:19 pm Reply

    Falafel is possibly the only deep fried food that I will touch with a ten foot pole. It's just that good and that worth it. I love this version of it! Definitely need to try it to fuel my winter squash addiction.

  3. 3

    Jennifer — February 4, 2010 @ 8:46 pm Reply

    I know what I am making ASAP!!!

  4. 4

    Elina — February 4, 2010 @ 9:23 pm Reply

    I saved that falafel recipe from Kelly's blog awhile back. It did look amazing. I'm saving your version now too. Can't wait to make these.Have you ever tried Oleana's spinach falafel. It's out of this world!!!Oh btw, they sell pureed squash in cans too. Maybe you can make your life easier next time if you go for the remake of that first recipe.

  5. 5

    brannyboilsover — February 4, 2010 @ 9:25 pm Reply

    Yum x2!

  6. 6

    preventionrd — February 5, 2010 @ 1:58 am Reply

    That's going on my "to make" list, too! And that tofu I see down below! YUMMM! Thanks for the recipes! : )

  7. 7

    preventionrd — March 28, 2011 @ 8:53 pm Reply

    That's going on my "to make" list, too! And that tofu I see down below! YUMMM! Thanks for the recipes! : )

  8. 8

    brannyboilsover — March 28, 2011 @ 8:53 pm Reply

    Yum x2!

  9. 9

    Elina — March 28, 2011 @ 8:53 pm Reply

    I saved that falafel recipe from Kelly's blog awhile back. It did look amazing. I'm saving your version now too. Can't wait to make these.Have you ever tried Oleana's spinach falafel. It's out of this world!!!Oh btw, they sell pureed squash in cans too. Maybe you can make your life easier next time if you go for the remake of that first recipe.

  10. 10

    Elina — March 28, 2011 @ 8:53 pm Reply

    I saved that falafel recipe from Kelly's blog awhile back. It did look amazing. I'm saving your version now too. Can't wait to make these.Have you ever tried Oleana's spinach falafel. It's out of this world!!!Oh btw, they sell pureed squash in cans too. Maybe you can make your life easier next time if you go for the remake of that first recipe.

  11. 11

    Joanne — March 28, 2011 @ 8:53 pm Reply

    Falafel is possibly the only deep fried food that I will touch with a ten foot pole. It's just that good and that worth it. I love this version of it! Definitely need to try it to fuel my winter squash addiction.

  12. 12

    TJ — March 28, 2011 @ 8:53 pm Reply

    I recently made some chick pea patties-but they are really crumbly and hard to cook without breaking them. Yours look firmer. Thanks for sharing the recipe! :)

  13. 13

    Jennifer — March 28, 2011 @ 8:53 pm Reply

    I know what I am making ASAP!!!

  14. 14

    preventionrd — March 29, 2011 @ 2:06 am Reply

    That's going on my "to make" list, too! And that tofu I see down below! YUMMM! Thanks for the recipes! : )

  15. 15

    Joanne — March 29, 2011 @ 2:06 am Reply

    Falafel is possibly the only deep fried food that I will touch with a ten foot pole. It's just that good and that worth it. I love this version of it! Definitely need to try it to fuel my winter squash addiction.

  16. 16

    preventionrd — April 5, 2011 @ 1:22 am Reply

    That's going on my "to make" list, too! And that tofu I see down below! YUMMM! Thanks for the recipes! : )

  17. 17

    Elina — April 5, 2011 @ 1:22 am Reply

    I saved that falafel recipe from Kelly's blog awhile back. It did look amazing. I'm saving your version now too. Can't wait to make these.Have you ever tried Oleana's spinach falafel. It's out of this world!!!Oh btw, they sell pureed squash in cans too. Maybe you can make your life easier next time if you go for the remake of that first recipe.

  18. 18

    Brianna — June 19, 2012 @ 12:59 am Reply

    We made falafel tonight … my 2 year old son was eating the yogurt tahini sauce by the spoonful. Thought you should know it was a hit :)

    • 18.1

      Cara — June 19, 2012 @ 9:13 am

      aww, thanks for sharing!

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