Love Mexican food? Love falafel? This recipe takes Mexican flavors and incorporates them into crispy baked bean patties, falafel style. They make a great finger food for kids and are wonderfully adult in wraps or salads. Something different and fun for everyone in your family!
I really love falafel. The crispiness and flavor of the little chickpea balls is just right. When I was making them the other night I realized that the same concept could be adapted to incorporate other flavors. And thus, the Mexican falafel was born.
Traditionally, falafel use garbanzo beans, Middle Eastern spices, and lemon juice. So to make the Mexican version, I subbed black beans, cilantro, and lime! I thought they were still so delicious, but the toppings and flavors were something new!
The great thing about falafel
Both regular falafel and this new Mexican version are great because they are made of beans! Beans are such a great source of vegetarian protein and fiber. They’re also packed with vitamins and minerals – including folate and iron. They help you stay full, keep regular, and help growing bodies do their thing!
Plus, these little guys are baked, so they’re not as packed with oil. We’ve flattened them (rather than making them into balls) so that they bake more evenly. It also means that even tiny kids can pick them up and eat them. My 10 month old loves them!
We also love that falafel are full of flavor! Beans alone are bland, but this recipe makes them totally interesting. Helping your kids try new flavors allows them to expand their palate. We often think kids only like bland foods, but many actually love strong flavors! And if not right away, they have to start somewhere. We want our kids to grow up liking lots of foods, so it is important to start early.
How to make Mexican Falafel
This recipe is beautifully simple, and much of it can be made ahead of time. All you need is a food processor, a baking sheet, and an oven.
Preheat your oven to 375* F. In a food processor, puree half an onion, five cloves of garlic, 1 cup of packed cilantro leaves, and 2 tablespoons of lime juice. You want it to get as well blended as possible.
Next, rinse and drain 1 can of black beans. Allow as much water as possible to drain, then add them to the food processor. Also add 2 teaspoons of cumin, 1 teaspoon of chili powder, and 1 teaspoon of salt. Puree until combined and the beans are mostly smashed.
Finally, add 1/2 cup of whole wheat flour and 2 teaspoons of baking powder. Pulse again until the flour is incorporated. If the mixture still seems wet you can add a little more flour.
At this point, you can refrigerate the mixture in a sealed container to cook later in the day, if desired.
Spread 1 tablespoon of olive oil evenly across the bottom of a large baking sheet. Take large spoonfuls of the bean mixture and shape them into disks about 1/2 an inch or so thick. Place them on the oiled baking sheet. Once all falafel are placed, brush the tops with oil – about another tablespoon.
Bake for 25-30 minutes, flipping halfway. You want the outsides crispy and the inside to still be soft.
Serving Mexican falfel + optional white sauce
I made my own white sauce using 1/2 cup of plain Greek yogurt + 1/4 cup of salsa + 1 teaspoon of lime juice. I wanted to have a Mexican white sauce to replace tzaziki and this worked nicely.
Serve falafel as is with a dipping sauce of your choice. Or, roll them up in a tortilla with lettuce and tomato – like a Mexican gyro of sorts. I also recommend accompanying them with some avocado, cheese, and a squeeze of fresh lime juice. Enjoy!