An Obsession with All Things Handmade and Home-Cooked

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

Author: Hannah (BitterSweet)

Author of My Sweet Vegan, Vegan Desserts, Vegan a la Mode, and Easy as Vegan Pie.

64 thoughts on “Breaking the Rules

  1. Ooooh, gorgeous! These sound delish. :)

  2. I totally agree with you! Sunflower seeds as falafel base may not be traditional but I bet delicious!

  3. Let that rebellious side run free! Especially if it means delivering more goodies like these. YUM!

  4. Oh waouw !
    Just perfect darling !

  5. OMG … this sounds SOOOOOOOOOO good!! I don’t know if I can stand waiting 8 hours for the sunflower seeds to soak!!

  6. What a great idea! I don’t have the ingredients right now, but I’m totally going to try this in the dehydrator. Thank you!! I will report back.
    Eco Mama

  7. It looks so good! Melody, who doesn’t eat anything these days due to her pickiness, just said “Mmmmmmm!” when she saw the picture on the computer screen. LOL!

  8. great inspiration! I’d pick this healthy version over the fat fried ones any day!

  9. Hannah, Hannah! let’s break more ruiles! lol!

  10. Sounds delicious as always Hannah. I absolutely adore Falafel. One of my guilty pleasures is going out to the local Kabob House at lunch and ordering a yummy pita sandwich with Falafel, lettuce, and tomato and copious amounts of their yogurt dressing. Just thinking about it, I’m salivating.

  11. Your recipe sounds wonderful. But unfortunately, Don wouldn’t. When we have hummus at our house, we call it “bean dip”, and he loves it. I wonder if your recipe would freeze. I would like to make it, but 30 seems a lot for just me.


  12. Good for you! This is the part of the pollan debate I’m a bit confused about since if I ate like my granny ate I’d be eating white bread sandwiches, lots of cake and no dinner!

    Anyways, looks like a delicious recipe, since I’m trying to lose weight I’m a little concerned about the calories but I may give it a try, I’m guessing they are rich enough to satisfy with a small amount…

  13. Ahh this is SO my kind of recipe!! Sounds delicious, I can’t wait to try it!! I want to incorporate more raw recipes into my rotation and this would be perfect!! Keep up the rule breakin’ :)

  14. i love any twist on falafels, and your raw ones sound/look great!

  15. You rebellion seems to have produced amazing results! I wish I were there to try those.

  16. Always looking for new raw food recipes and this looks awesome. I will have to make them! I even have sunflower seeds already soaked!

  17. Oh, it looks SOOOO good. I am going to be making them this weekend.

    Thanks, Hannah!

  18. Wow, I never thought I’d see a raw falafel! It looks good & when it warms up I’ll give ’em a whirl!

  19. My husband loooooooves falafel. Haven’t tried making it raw yet (I did start once, but ended up with raw cookies instead, haha).

  20. You’re absolutely right… Most rules are meant to be broken at some point otherwise life would become … well, boring probably! And these falafels looks absolutely delicious! I’ve never made ‘real’ falafel myself but I might just have to start with these instead. They look better then the fried ones to me!

  21. Wow! This is a great idea! Way outside the box! Excellent!

  22. Wow! Those look absolutely amazing. I’m so gonna have to make them.

  23. wow, I love this recipe. Im allergic to chickpeas so this is a great falafel type recipe for me :) It looks delicious in the salad too.


  24. Typically, I try to make a recipe according to the recipe the first time. Just so I know what it would be like if I didn’t tweak it. If it’s just delicious the way it is, fine…but that doesn’t mean I won’t tweak it, anyway! Breaking the rules is half the fun of cooking, isn’t it?

  25. I’ve decided that I shouldn’t look at your blog when it’s too late for me to want to cook! These look really, really good. And your photography is stunning.

  26. Ohhh man. If only every time I broke the rules it turned out this FABULOUS. I think this is pure genius and I can’t wait to give it a try. They look so delicate and beautiful, but I bet the flavor packs a real punch. Thank you!

  27. what!? this sounds awesome and i absolutely love anything sunflower seed-tasting! i’m ridiculously excited about trying this one. what a great alt-falafel recipe!

  28. Those look and sound delicious! I absolutely have to try making them — thanks for experimenting on behalf of all the falafel lovers but fried food haters out there!

  29. It’s so true. I love mixing up recipes!! Rules are dumb.

  30. Pingback: Sunflower Seed Falafel – BitterSweet | Happy Happy Joy Joy

  31. Sometimes breaking the rules is necessary and highly recommended. I think this might just be one of those times. These sound amazing! I love falafel.

  32. Here, here to the raw rebels!

    I am so making this recipe.

  33. so those raw falafels looks better than real ones!! just fabulous !

  34. I love it, Hannah. I’m a rule-breaker too ;)

  35. Oh, delicious. I am definitely making these this week!

  36. Hey, if breaking the rules means this delicious treat, I’m game!

  37. Funny, I recently read about raw falafels and thought, “Wow, I’d love to try those!” Your recipe sounds delicious and that photo–stunning!

  38. i just bought some falafel sunburgers, and these remind me of those a lot!

  39. wow– these look delicious!!! I must give them a try!

  40. Great idea – they look delicious!

  41. I can’t wait to try my hand at making something like these! Yum!

  42. wow, those look fantastic, and a great take on falafel. i’ll have to give them a try sometime!

  43. Wow, that looks so delish that my mouth is watering. I love the idea of healthier falafel. There’s a part of me that always feels guilty for eating fried food, even if it’s in a blue moon.

  44. Absolutely agree about the “rules”. There are no rules in cooking, as far as I’m concerned – only the taste test. Your stuff always passes mine and everyone I cook for.

  45. nice! i love the concept ;)

  46. yum they sound awesome.

  47. Just ate them. Delicious!

  48. You’re the coolest :) This looks ever so pleasant. I’m going to have to get my hands on sunflower seeds (or I can pick them out of my trail mix bag. Ha ha).

  49. These are absolutely amazing! I made them today and wow….thank you so much for this great recipe. I’ll be blogging about them later today :)


  50. These were great! I dehydrated them for ~8h and OH MY they are tasty. I had them on top of a wonderful green salad and a balsamic vinaigrette.

  51. Hannah, what a great idea. I completely agree with you about the importance of thinking outside the square with food. You hear and read so many instances of people insisting there is only one way to make a dish. When this is actually rubbish. There are few really meaningful rules around food. Instead, there are always several different ways of cooking something, as well as opportunities to adapt a recipe and make it your own.

    Little baked falafels made from sunflower seeds – lovely, lovely idea.

  52. Ooo yum I love falafel and love sunflower seeds so this definitely sounds exciting! Great discovery.

  53. Pingback: Sunflower Seed Falafels on a Salad « Seattle Farmette & Baby

  54. Hannah, you’ve done it again! I’m unable to eat “traditional” (deep fried chickpea) falafel, and I MISS IT!!! (I have Crohn’s and for whatever reason, traditional falafel sets it off viciously) Just made a batch of these and they are delicious, and I can enjoy falafel whenever I want–yay!!! Not to mention these are much lighter in taste and nutrionally, not being deep fried. THANK YOU!!!! The oven toasts these up really nicely and deliciously.

  55. Pingback: You just can’t win them all, I guess…* « My blank page

  56. Just made an altered version of this with fresh herbs and a few extra spices and OMG!!!!! DELISH! Thanks for the inspiration!

  57. Pingback: Deconstructed Falafel Salad | WhyVeg? powered by Squidoo

  58. I recently made a salad with these raw falafel because I needed a way to use up all the frozen sunflower seeds I had. I was really surprised how well they held together. They were a great addition to my lunch. :)

  59. Pingback: A Raw Lunch, and Cheese Sauce | Ahimsa

  60. Pingback: Sunflower Seed Falafel

  61. Hanna,
    I have to say that I have now made these over 20 times and they are officially my favorite recipe of yours! Thanks!

  62. Pingback: Sunflower Seed Falafel Sandwich | Kamila's Kitchen

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