Breaking the Rules

Though I wouldn’t necessarily call myself out-and-out rebellious, I just hate rules. Especially when those rules are so pointless that following them only leads to close-mindedness. Sound a bit out there? Bear with me.

Every case of food snobbery I’ve witnessed thus far has revolved around certain unwritten commandments against preparing food differently than it is traditionally, or “properly” done. Just think about that for a minute… Doesn’t that sound ridiculous? Where would we be if no one deviated from the recipe, whether it be with an additional pinch of nutmeg or by switching out the flours for something different entirely? What about modern fine dining? Do you think these chefs learned how to use methylcellulose from their grandmothers, that knowledge passed down through the generations? I could be wrong, but I think not.

Of course, when confronted with such revolutionary concepts and approaches, it may still take some time for me to warm to the idea. Gazing into the refrigerated cases recently at a vegan cafe, something on the top shelf caught my eye: Raw falafel. Defined as “a fried ball or patty made from spiced chickpeas and/or fava beans“, it was hard to grasp how this creation before me was related, as it was neither fried nor made of chickpeas. In fact, it wasn’t even cooked at it; It was raw.

However, at the end of the day, the question was not, “Is this a falafel, or isn’t it?” but “How on earth did they make this thing?!” It was simply delicious, no matter what you called it. And that is the reward of successfully breaking the foods rules.

Rushing home to recreate this new found delight, I was already breaking the rules again in no time.

Drawing inspiration from those revolutionary bean-less falafel, but tweaking the execution to my liking, my spiced spheres are actually baked, but could just as easily be made raw if desired. Just slightly crispy on the outside, but lusciously tender and moist on the inside, they’re a welcome change of pace from the typically heavy, often grease, fried variety.

I served mine up in a quick little salad with a drizzle of tahini dressing, but they’re perfectly at home in a traditional pita bread as well, if you must.

Sunflower Seed Falafel

1 1/2 Cups Raw Sunflower Seeds, Soaked Overnight (or at least 8 hours)
2 Tablespoons Dried Parsley
2 Tablespoons Fresh Chopped Chives, or 1 Scallion
2 Tablespoons Tahini
1/4 Cup Fresh Lemon Juice
1 – 2 Cloves Garlic
1 Teaspoon Ground Cumin
1 Teaspoon Salt
Pinch Black Pepper


Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with either parchment paper or a silpat.

Pull out your food processor or blender, and toss in everything but the paprika. Pulse, pausing to scrape down the sides of the bowl to get everything incorporated, until the mixture is the consistency of a rough pate, or chunky peanut butter.

Using a small cookie scoop, or two spoons, portion out 1 rounded tablespoon of the sunflower paste per falafel onto your prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle just a tiny pinch of paprika on top of each raw falafel, and bake for about 20 – 25 minutes, until lightly browned.*

*To make these raw, simply pop them into a dehydrator instead. I’m no expert on these things, but it could take between 6 – 10 hours. Just keep checking on them (and let me know about your results!)

Serve warm, or let cool and store in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to 1 week.

Makes About 30 Falafel

Printable Recipe