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Spicy Vegan Sunflower-Lentil Falafel with Spicy Tomato Aioli
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5 from 3 votes

Spicy Vegan Sunflower-Lentil Falafel with Smoky Tomato Aioli

These baked vegan falafel pack a kick of heat and lots of plant-based protein. They're made with a base of greens lentils and ground sunflower seeds and are both grain-free and gluten-free. Enjoy them all on their own or tuck them into wraps, top with veggies, and generously drizzle with smoky tomato aioli.
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time40 mins
Total Time1 hr
Course: Bigger Bites
Cuisine: Gluten-Free, Grain-Free, plant-based, Vegan
Servings: 18 patties


Spicy Sunflower-Lentil Falafel

  • 1 cup dried green lentils, rinsed and picked through
  • 3 cups water
  • ½ cup raw sunflower seeds
  • ½ cup parsley leaves, stemmed
  • ¼ cup cilantro leaves, stemmed
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chopped chipotle pepper in adobo sauce
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 ¼ teaspoon sea salt or to taste
  • ⅛ to ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper, more or less to taste

Smoky Tomato Aioli

  • ½ cup raw cashews or shelled hemp seeds
  • ½ cup filtered water, plus more if needed
  • ¼ cup diced fire-roasted tomatoes (from a can)
  • 1 tablespoon finely diced chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, more or less to taste
  • 1 clove garlic, smashed and peeled
  • ½ tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ¾ teaspoon sea salt or to taste

For Serving

  • Destemmed collard leaves, large romaine leaves, pita pockets, or wrap of choice
  • Shredded cabbage
  • Cilantro leaves
  • Lemon wedges


For the Spicy Sunflower-Lentil Falafel

  • Preheat oven to 350F and line a large baking pan with parchment paper.
  • In a medium saucepan, combine the lentils and water, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes, or until tender but not yet mushy. Strain off excess water and set aside.
  • In a food processor, process the sunflower seeds for one minute, or until ground into a coarse flour. Add the cooked lentils and all remaining falafel ingredients. 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.
  • Scoop out a scant 2 tablespoons of the falafel dough (it will be quite damp as opposed to sticky), gently form into small patties (about ¾-inch thick), place on the lined baking tray, and repeat. You should have approximately 18 falafel patties.
  • Bake for 18 to 22 minutes, or until the exteriors are rich golden and the tops begin to crackle (no need to flip). They'll continue to firm as they cool. Let the patties cool slightly before moving or serving.

For the Smoky Tomato Aioli

  • While the patties cook, add all the aioli ingredients to a high-speed blender, and blend on high until smooth.
  • Transfer to an airtight jar or container and refrigerate until serving.

To Serve

  • Tuck the falafel into pita pockets, collard or romaine leaves, or wrap of choice. Alternatively, serve on their own. Drizzle with the aioli and top as desired. Serve with lemon wedges for spritzing.
  • Refrigerate leftovers in separate airtight containers for up to 4 days.