Falafel Bowls with Cashew Tzatziki sauce capture all there is to love about the Middle Eastern dish in a nutrient-rich bowl. Featuring baked falafel (made with canned chickpeas!), vegan tzatziki, and a crisp cucumber-tomato salad, this recipe is easy, healthy, and flavorful.
Why You'll Love these Falafel Bowls
Falafel is a Middle Eastern dish made from dried chickpeas and/or fava beans. Traditionally, falafel is deep fried to yield a crispy texture, and served in a pita with all the fixings. Classic falafel also typically calls for dried chickpeas that need to be soaked overnight.
This version, however, leans on canned chickpeas for convenience, and is baked rather than fried. Yet the end result still yields fluffy falafel that's crispy on the outside and tender on the inside.
Also in the mix is a vegan tzatziki sauce made from cashews, cucumber, garlic, lemon, and fresh herbs. It's every bit as creamy and crave-worthy as the classic, and makes for a fantastic dipping sauce.
Although this recipe has a few components to it, it's quite simple to make. Plus, it's rich in plant-based protein, dietary fiber, and a slew of other nutrients.
Recipe Ingredients and Substitutions:
- Chickpeas: Most classic falafel recipes call for dried/soaked chickpeas, however this one leans on canned chickpeas for convenience. It's important to make sure your chickpeas are as dry as possible before adding them to the food processor. If they're coated in water or brine still, the falafel won't come out as crispy.
- Parsley: Fresh parsley leaves are a staple in falafel. They add bright, lemon-y flavor, and an herbaceous backbone to the chickpea mixture. You can also use cilantro in a pinch.
- Spices: I love a mix of ground cumin, smoked paprika, salt, and pepper for falafel. This combo creates an earthy, slightly smoky flavor profile that's more dimensional than cumin alone. You can also add a pinch of cardamom or coriander, if desired.
- Flour: You need about 3 tablespoon of all-purpose or chickpea flour to help the falafel crisp up.
- Tahini: While tahini isn't a classic falafel ingredient, I love the extra "oomph" of nutty flavor it provides. Alternatively, you can use 1 teaspoon of toasted white sesame seeds.
- Vegan Tzatziki: This recipe leans on soaked cashews to lend superior creaminess. Also in the mix is grated cucumber, lemon juice, garlic, fresh dill, and parsley.
Step 1: Soak Cashews
Place cashews in a small bowl and cover with ½ cup boiling water. Let cashews stand for 30 minutes.
Step 2: Pulse Falafel Ingredients in Food Processor
Add chickpeas, parsley, red onion, garlic, tahini, and spices to a food processor or blender. Pulse to combine, scraping down sides as needed, until thoroughly combined. You’re looking for a crumbly dough, not a paste (as shown in photo).
Add flour 1 tablespoon at a time and pulse/mix to combine until no longer wet and you can mold the dough into a ball without it sticking to your hands. (I use 3 tablespoon total.)
Step 3: Bake Falafel
Preheat oven to 400ºF, and lightly coat a rimmed baking sheet with olive oil. Scoop out 2 rounded tablespoon amounts of falafel mix and gently form into 12 discs. Arrange discs on prepared baking sheet, spacing about 2 inches apart.
Bake falafel for 25 to 30 minutes, gently turning once halfway through, until golden and crisp.
Step 4: Prepare Vegan Tzatziki
While falafel bakes, begin preparing tzatziki. To start, partially peel the cucumber and slice it in half. Grate half the cucumber on a box grater into a clean kitchen towel. Press to expel as much moisture as possible, and transfer cucumber to a small bowl.
Transfer soaked cashews and water to a high power blender, along with lemon juice, garlic, and salt. Blend mixture on HIGH until smooth and creamy. Transfer tzatziki to the bowl with grated cucumber, and mix in black pepper, dill, and parsley. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.
Step 5: Assemble Falafel Bowls
Chop up remaining half of cucumber and place in a bowl. Stir in 1.5 cups of halved cherry tomatoes and ⅓ cup diced red onion. Drizzle mixture with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
Divide baked falafel evenly between four bowls. Add a scoop of the cucumber-tomato salad, a handful of greens, sliced avocado, and the cashew tzatziki. Serve with extra fresh herbs and/or pita, if desired.
More Ways to Serve Baked Falafel:
There are countless ways to serve this crispy baked falafel. Here are a few of my favorites:
- Falafel sandwiches/wraps: Wrap falafel in warm pita along with lettuce, tomato, red onion, and a swoosh of sauce (cashew tzatziki, hummus, baba ganoush, or tahini sauce).
- Falafel salads: Crispy falafel are a delicious salad topper! Try them on top of this Vegan Kale Caesar Salad for a one-two punch of protein and fiber.
- Dippers: You truly can't beat falafel simply dipped in a sauce! I especially love it dipped in homemade tahini sauce, like this Tahini-Caesar or Green Tahini Sauce.
How to Make-Ahead, Store, and Reheat:
- Make-Ahead: Cashew tzatziki can be made 1 to 2 days ahead. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to use. Uncooked falafel patties can be refrigerated on a parchment-lined baking sheet, wrapped tightly in plastic wrap, for up to 3 hours before baking.
- Store: Wrap leftover falafel tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Falafel can also be frozen up to 3 months.
- Reheat: My preferred way of reheating falafel is in the toaster oven. This helps them re-establish some crispiness, and ensures they're warmed through. In a pinch, you can also reheat falafel in the microwave.
More Healthy Greek Recipes to Try:
If you give this recipe a try, snap a pic and tag #dishingouthealth so I can see your beautiful creations. I’d also love if you could leave a recipe rating and review!
Falafel Bowls with Cashew Tzatziki
- Food Processor or High Power Blender
- Rimmed baking sheet
- Mixing bowls
- ⅔ cup raw cashews
- 1 large English cucumber
- 3 Tbsp. lemon juice
- 1 garlic clove
- ½ tsp. kosher salt
- 2 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh dill
- 1 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh parsley
- ¼ tsp. black pepper
- 1 (15.5-oz.) can chickpeas, rinsed, drained and patted dry
- ½ cup roughly chopped red onion
- ½ cup packed fresh parsley
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 Tbsp. tahini (sesame seed paste)
- ¾ tsp. ground cumin
- ½ tsp. smoked paprika
- ½ tsp. each kosher salt and black pepper
- 3 Tbsp. all-purpose flour (sub chickpea flour)
Additional Bowl Ingredients
- 1 ½ cups halved cherry tomatoes
- 1 medium avocado, peeled and diced
- ⅓ cup finely chopped red onion
- 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
- 4 handfuls fresh arugula or greens of choice
- Warm pita for serving (optional)
- Place cashews in a small bowl and cover with ½ cup boiling water. Let cashews stand for 30 minutes while you prepare falafel.
- Begin preparing falafel by adding chickpeas, red onion, parsley, garlic, tahini, cumin, smoked paprika, salt, and pepper to a food processor or blender. Pulse to combine, scraping down sides as needed, until thoroughly combined. You’re looking for a crumbly dough, not a paste (as shown in photo).Add flour 1 Tbsp. at a time and pulse to combine until the mixture is dry enough to mold without it sticking to your hands.
- Preheat oven to 400ºF and lightly coat a rimmed baking sheet with olive oil. Scoop out 2 rounded Tbsp. amounts of falafel mix and gently form into 12 discs. Arrange discs on prepared baking sheet, spacing about 2 inches apart. Bake falafel for 25 to 30 minutes, gently flipping once halfway through, until golden and crisp.
- While falafel bakes, begin preparing tzatziki.To start, partially peel the cucumber and slice it in half. Grate half the cucumber on a box grater into a clean kitchen towel. Press to expel as much moisture as possible, and transfer cucumber to a small bowl. Transfer soaked cashews and water to a high power blender, along with lemon juice, garlic, and salt. Blend mixture on HIGH until smooth and creamy. Transfer cashew mixture to the bowl with grated cucumber, and mix in dill, parsley, and black pepper. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.
- Prepare cucumber-tomato salad by chopping up remaining half of cucumber and placing in a bowl. Add tomatoes, avocado, red onion, and olive oil. Gently toss to combine, and season to taste with salt and pepper. To assemble bowls, place 4 falafel, a handful of arugula, and a scoop of cucumber-tomato salad into each of 4 bowls. Serve with cashew tzatziki and warm pita (if desired).