Israeli Meatballs

February 9th

My first trans-Atlantic trip was to Israel and Palestine in 1999-2000. I was on a journalism internship with the American Jewish Committee. We visited a variety of newspapers and got to see the majority of both countries within 3 weeks. It was a trip I won and the beginning of a life-long love affair with international adventure.

Baked Falafel

One of the things I remember most clearly was the new array of foods we were introduced to. Traveling with a dozen other student journalists, we were immediately taken to a restaurant in Tel Aviv upon arrival and the best of Israeli cuisine was showcased. This was long before I’d be introduced to Pita Jungle, my local Tempe haunt, or even hummus for that matter. There were so many interesting and colorful things to try, including falafel.

Baked Falafel

We soon learned the chickpea is a staple in Israeli cooking because most restaurants keep kosher. No dairy and meat on the same plate or even at the same meal. Imagine how shocking this was to a Christian girl who grew up on cheese burgers? Or even more sacrilegious  for my new Jewish friends — bagel sandwiches with cheese, eggs, and sausage.

Baked Falafel

My love of Middle Eastern food began with gusto. Falafel stands on the streets were far more appealing to me than hot dogs anyway. Falafel — or Israeli meatballs — are fried balls of chickpeas and spice. They were wrapped in warm pita, with salty pickles and a dash of hummus that made your mouth dance. It was just so very good. When I came home, similar to my exuberance after living in Mexico, I wanted to recreate the adventure through food for my family and friends.

Baked Falafel

It’s taken ten years, but I’ve finally gotten around to making a falafel recipe worth sharing. My one beef, so to speak, with falafel is that they are typically fried. I don’t do well with fried food. My stomach cramps and I pay for the indulgence for days to come. So, when putting this recipe together, I knew baking would be crucial.

Lunch with Julez

Baked Falafel

Yield: 18 large falafel


2 cans of drained and rinsed chickpeas (garbanzo beans)

1 handful of spinach (about a cup)

1 handful of parsley (about a cup)

1/2 cup bread crumbs

1/4 cup pepitas

2 eggs

juice from 2 lemons

dash of paprika

dash of cumin

dash of garlic salt

dash of pepper

1 tablespoon olive oil


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Add all ingredients, minus the olive oil, in a food processor and pulse until the mixture is grainy — not runny. Scoop onto greased baking sheets in uniform shapes (an ice cream scoop works well.) Lightly brush tops with remaining olive oil. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until golden, turning at minute 8.

Serve with quinoa, hummus and a nice glass of white wine. These are incredibly healthy and tasty!


Posted in
Domestic Art, Kitchen Talk, Recipes
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11 Responses

  1. That sounds really good, I don’t think I’ve ever had falafel, although I’ve certainly heard of it. And it sounds simple!

  2. Oh I LOVE falafel! I just mastered homemade pitas last year and have been trying to find a good falafel recipe. I’ll definitely be making these! I love them on a warm pita with hummus and veggies!

  3. I’m going to try this!

    I fell in love with falafel when we were first married and we’d frequent a lunch spot, when we could. It was a Greek restaurant run by Egyptians. They put ground green onions on their falafel pitas as a garnish. I’m sure none of my coworkers minded, did they?

  4. Oh how I love Pita Jungle. (And, I bet this homemeade falafel is better than just about any restaurant!)

  5. First of all, YUM. You are a kitchen goddess.
    Also, have I already asked you, have you read Walking the Bible? I think you might like it.

  6. This is really worth a try!

  7. Falafel is a staple at our house. These sound heavenly. Thanks, Kel!

  8. this looks great. i wonder if the eggs were left out, would it fall apart?

  9. oh and what is pepitas?

  10. I made this last night and loved it. Unfortunately I am the only falafel fan in the house. 🙁