These vegan gf pumpkin lentil falafel are savory, spiced, and incredibly satisfying. Split red lentils and pumpkin purée serve as the base in these festive fall patties. They get pulsed with a flavorful mixture of fresh herbs, aromatic spices, oat flour, lemon juice, red onion, and garlic. Once the pumpkin falafel dough is prepped, you'll form it into patties and bake to crisp, golden-hued perfection. I recommend serving these beauties drizzled with tahini and alongside a generous dollop of pumpkin hummus.
It might be all those trips to Whole Foods' salad bar I've been making after prenatal appointments, or perhaps it's just good ol' fashioned pregnancy hormones, but I've been craving (and devouring) falafel for the last two months straight.
And tahini? Ooh, girl, don't even get me started. I'll happily enjoy allll the nut and seed butters right now, but especially tahini. A drizzle there, a spoonful here.
The thing about falafel though is that it's not the most reliable food to source.
For instance, the falafel in Whole Foods (WF) salad bar is decent but a little on the dry side. Which, by the way, is a great excuse for more tahini and hummus.
The WF by us also carries another brand of falafel in the pre-made/refrigerated meals section. They look beautiful, but they taste like nothing and have the texture of a sandy desert. I'm not sure whose cup of tea that is, but it's certainly not mine.
Ordering falafel at restaurants can also be a bit risky, because it's usually tasty when piping hot and fresh but leftovers quickly deteriorate into dry, flavorless discs.
Miss, would you like a gallon of water and a vat of tahini with your leftovers?
Again, not my cup of tea. Other than the vat of tahini, that is.
If you share similar sentiments about store-bought and restaurant falafel, then I've got just the thing for you:
These ↑ homemade vegan gluten-free pumpkin lentil falafel.
These baked beauties are crisp and golden on the outside and moist (←ack, dislike that word so much) and tender on the inside. They can be enjoyed warm from the oven, reheated, or chilled straight from the fridge.
Plus, they're excellent on their own or generously drizzled with tahini. You know where my vote lies.
To make these festive fall falafel patties, you'll start by simmering one cup of split red lentils until tender. Red lentils cook up much quicker than green, brown, and black varieties, so this shouldn't take more than a speedy 10+ minutes.
While the lentils simmer, you'll add raw sunflower seeds to a food processor and process until ground into a coarse flour.
Then, add the cooked lentils to the food processor along with canned pumpkin purée, a bit of oat flour, lots of fresh parsley and cilantro, garlic, red onion, a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, a few trusty spices (read: coriander, cumin, smoked paprika, and cinnamon), and sea salt.
Pulse several times to thoroughly mix, chop, and mash. Then, scoop about about 1 ½ tablespoons of the falafel dough (a cookie scoop works great here), drop it on a lined baking tray, and lightly press down to flatten into a patty. The dough will be quite damp and loose, but this is the key to moist falafel. Sandy, gritty, desert-dry falafel, be gone.
Repeat with the remaining falafel dough, forming about 28 patties total.
Bake the falafel patties for 20 minutes, or until their exteriors are golden and their tops begin to crackle.
Once the falafel patties have cooled a bit, serve them on their own with a drizzle of tahini and dollop of hummus, tuck them into collard wraps or warm pita pockets, or nestle them alongside a bit of millet tabbouleh.
Vegan GF Pumpkin Lentil Falafel
- 1 cup dried split red lentils
- 2 cups water
- ¾ cup raw sunflower seeds
- ½ cup canned unsweetened pumpkin purée
- ¾ cup oat flour
- ½ cup parsley leaves, stemmed
- ¼ cup cilantro leaves, stemmed
- ½ medium red onion, roughly diced (about 1 cup)
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
- 1 ½ tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 ½ teaspoons ground coriander
- 1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 ½ teaspoons smoked paprika
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 ½ teaspoon sea salt or to taste
- Preheat the oven to 350F and line two large baking pans with parchment paper.
- In a medium saucepan, combine the lentils and water, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the lentils are tender but not yet mushy. Strain off excess water and set aside.
- Add the sunflower seeds to a food processor and process for one minute, or until ground into a coarse flour.
- Then, add the cooked lentils, pumpkin purée, and all remaining falafel ingredients to the food processor. Pulse 10 to 15 times to coarsely chop and mix. You want everything to be well-incorporated but be careful not to over process or you'll end up with hummus.
- Use a cookie scoop to scoop out a heaping 1 ½ tablespoons of the falafel dough (it will be quite damp and limp), drop on the pan, and gently press the top down to form into a small patty (about ¾-inch thick), place on one of the lined baking trays, and repeat. (Note: If the dough is sticking to your hands, lightly grease them with oil before pressing.) You should have about 28 falafel patties.
- Bake for 18 to 22 minutes, or until the exteriors are just beginning to appear crisp and golden. Do not overbake.
- Let the patties cool on the pan slightly before moving or serving.
- Leftovers can be refrigerated for up to 1 week or frozen for up to 1 month.