These baked herb and pistachio falafel are a guilt-free version of the traditionally deep-fried Mediterranean patties. Serve with a spicy tomato chili salsa and tahini sauce, atop collard greens, big butter lettuce leaves, or pita bread for an easy handheld meal.
herb and pistachio falafel

It’s taken me two very introspective, soul-searching, gut-wrenching (eyes bleeding) days to get here.

But after much YouTube-watching, water cooler gossiping, and a little bit of psychoanalyzing…I feel mentally prepared to discuss the VMAs now.

So pull up a chair and a falafel. And let’s get to gossiping.


To be quite frank, I didn’t actually watch the VMAs in real time.

I may know the words to every Top 40 hit, backwards and forwards, and {not so} secretly love dancing to them in my underwear…

…but I have notย refuse to admit to watching a single music video since the days of Carson Daly and TRL. You know, when I used to race home from school to watch N’SYNC’s Bye Bye Bye video hit the number one spot. And dance along since I was totally that cool kid who had memorized the choreography.

And maybe I even recorded it on the days when I knew I wouldn’t get home in time. Or maybe not. That’s totally neither here nor there.

(JT. I will always love you.)


Anyways, my point being that since I have not seen any of the music videos, it didn’t really make sense for me to watch them win/not win awards. So I didn’t.

And then I was accosted by videos of twerking, weird nightmare-inducing oversized stuffed bears, an oddly suggestive foam finger, and a very misdirected youth on facebook the next morning.

It was frightening. All of it.

And it kind of made me sad. Because Party in the USA was THE.SONG of my first of year of med school. We rocked out to it in ALL THE CLUBS, ALL THE TIME. Whereas We Can’t Stop just kind of makes me feel dirty. And not in a good way.

PicMonkey Collage

Let’s just go back to the good ol’ days, Miley, and leave all this LSD-trip-gone-wrong nonsense behind. Mmkay?

Back to a much more wholesome age.

Where the falafel are baked and wrapped in collard leaves, rather than deep-fried in neon eye shadow and strobe lighting.

Because after you hit rock bottom like that, the only place to go is up. And these falafel are definitely definitely up.


One year ago…Vegetable Fried Rice, Summer Fusilli with Zucchini and Heirloom Tomatoes

Three years ago…Soppressata Pizza with Fried Egg and Shasha Sauce

Four years ago…Grilled Eggplant Parmesan Sandwiches

Herb and Pistachio Falafel
These baked herb and pistachio falafel are a guilt-free version of the traditionally deep-fried Mediterranean patties. Serve with a spicy tomato chili salsa and tahini sauce, atop collard greens, big butter lettuce leaves, or pita bread for an easy handheld meal.
Yield: Serves 5
  • 12 sprigs of mint
  • 12 sprigs of cilantro
  • 1 cup shelled pistachios
  • 2 cups cooked chickpeas
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 small yellow onion, quartered
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • salt, to taste
For the tomato-chili salsa
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp fresh oregano, chopped
  • salt and black pepper, to taste
For the tahini sauce
  • ½ cup tahini
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp agave
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • ⅓ cup water
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 375 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In the bowl of a food processor, pulse together the mint and cilantro. Add in the pistachios and pulse again until chopped. Mix in the chickpeas, garlic, onion, oil, cumin, flour and baking soda. Process for 30 seconds, or until mostly pureed, scraping down the sides as needed. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.
  3. Using your hands or a cookie scoop, form the dough into 20 falafels. Put them on the parchment lined baking sheets and bake for 14 minutes. Flip over and bake for another 15 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, make the tomato chili salsa by stirring together the tomatoes, red pepper flakes, garlic, olive oil, oregano, and salt and pepper to taste.
  5. To make the tahini sauce, whisk together tahini, lemon juice, agave (or honey), garlic, water, and salt and pepper to taste. Add more or less water as necessary to get desired consistency.
  6. Serve in collard green wraps or pitas.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: ⅕th of recipe


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80 Responses to Herb and Pistachio Falafel

  1. Girl, you and me both… I was really hoping for a much BIGGER N’Sync reunion. As in a full-fledged concert with crazy outfits and dancing. Instead, we got Miley twerking (I still don’t think I know what that means). Either way, I’m erasing the memories of it by downing one of these falafels. I’ve never had one and this seems like the best way to change that! Yum!

  2. Sues says:

    I totally used to set my VCR to record TRL, too. But more because of the Backstreet Boys. And, you know, the new Ricky Martin video.

    I haven’t made falafel in years, but this is definitely inspiring me! Perfect any time meal!

  3. Oh man! I just watched the Miley on the VMAs yesterday. That deserves a serious WTF. Did you see the Smith family’s reaction?! SO good! Anywaaaaaay, I’ve been waiting for this recipe and here it is!! YUM!

    • Kathleen says:

      The Smith family’s reaction was directed at Lady Gaga’s performance, not Miley Cyrus’s, and the woman sitting next to them with her hand clapped over her mouth was simply yawning. A perfect example of how effective manipulative editing can be!

  4. Jessie says:

    We totally grew up at the same time. And I definitely need something wholesome after hearing about a certain performance – yeah, not my thing. This herb and pistachio falafel, on the other hand, is 100% my thing! Awesome recipe, as always ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. What a great twist on falafel! They sound and look really yummy!

  6. Erika says:

    Girl.. The twerking.. it’s getting outta hand.. I just want her to go some where and sit down..Forever. But let’s talk about this falafel and how you wrapped it in collards greens.. Brilliant! This is a must try! ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. I will always have a soft spot for Miley, despite her controversial dance moves. And those teddy bears; so cute!

    These falafels look delish; I never could have thought to add pistachios.

  8. Monica says:

    I’m with you – the good ol’ days, please! Love these lightened falafels!

  9. Tahnycooks says:

    I didn’t even know what twerking was until I saw it explained to me on the Today Show this morning! I’m scared. And, I’m soo glad I have boys. Now, with that being said…I am pretty upset that girls these days don’t have more respect for themselves and my boys.

    I would like to say “Bye, Bye, Bye” to all these disgusting trends!

    Your recipe looks fabulous! I love it served on that huge leaf! Fun!

  10. Lynn says:

    The VMAs always seem kind of off the wall – this is just another chapter of that to me. (But I’m way out of their age demographic at this point anyway.)

    The falafel looks so good! I haven’t had one in ages.

  11. I have no clue what you are talking about! Great recipe though Joanne ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. bellini says:

    Shall I bake these up while “twerking” in the kitchen:D It’s sad that a 20 year old feels the need to show she has grown in this way, and I would just look ridiculous:D

  13. So many times when you post I think to myself, I wish I was neighbors with Joanne so I could try all these amazing dishes! This looks fantastic ๐Ÿ™‚

  14. Emma says:

    That Miley video is terrifying! I do kinda like the song though..and party in the USA is still a feel-good song for me.
    I actually prefer baked falafel to the fried kind. I’ve made this recipe from the Sprouted Kitchen site before and loved it and made my own baked beetroot falafel recently too.

  15. I would take these falafel over this years VMA’s ANYDAY!
    Love tha ddition of the pistachios!

  16. I like the use of pistachios in falafel!

  17. Lisa says:

    What a fantastic recipe. This one is going on the menu soon.

  18. gloria says:

    we love pistachios Joanne and love your rรฉcipe!!

  19. Beth says:

    I didn’t even know what twerking was until this week. I’m pretty sure I was better off not knowing. Thanks for the shot of wholesome!

  20. This looks superb. I have yet to make some that are baked. The pistachio and mint on these falafels sound great!!

  21. Yeah sexy green herb, pistachio falafel with protein rich chickpeas! That’s a keeper and a must try soon Joanne, thank you so much for sharing!

  22. Suzie says:

    I was badly assaulted on facebook the next day, so much so that I told everyone to knock it off and went on a little rant. I said I’d be back in two days and not sure I even want to go back today, because you know, some people keep posting the same crap until you are half blind!! Lol! Anyways, the food looks great and I’m sure is way better than any VMA show!!

  23. I recorded the VMA’s so I could fastforward and only watch the live performances (mainly because I knew there was going to be an NSYNC reunion, wooo). I wish I could unsee what I saw that young girl do, YIKES. I think this falafel will help console me through this difficult times, it looks like perfection.

  24. Every time I try to make baked falafel, I get a mess and no falafel. It’s sad, because I do love it. I also love pistachios, so I will need to get my butt in gear and make this!

  25. I want this for lunch Joanne!!! I have to say I didn’t watch the VMA’s but I watched a clip of Miley’s bizarre performance and feel pretty similar to you. I also had to shut it off about 1/3 of the way through b/c it was so painful to watch.

  26. Ugh, the VMA’s. I haven’t watched in years, and now I kinda feel too old….I have no idea who half the singers/groups are, I haven’t see a music video since high school and to top it off, I had to ask someone what twerking is because I was totally clueless. This falafel, on the other hand, is totally my speed!

  27. Absolutely love the idea of adding fresh herbs to falafel! Oh man, these pics are making me totally crave this now ๐Ÿ™‚

  28. um yes, take me back to a simpler time where i didn’t have to protect my innocence ๐Ÿ™‚

    We’re having a Mediterranean themed dinner party in a few weeks and this just might need to be on the menu!

  29. grace says:

    i could probably eat my weight in pistachios, they are SO delicious and addictive. this would be a tasty way to keep those urges under control. ๐Ÿ™‚

  30. They look wholesome! Love that you have used pitachio in those falafel.

  31. LOL Very, very apt description of the Miley-trainwreck, and the gross display between her and Thicke. I was watching excitedly for the *NSYNC Reunion (as I am your kin in TRL love and memories, and I miss the chubby Carson Daly days) and was not expecting to see the ridiculousness of that performance. Ugh.
    Falafel, on the other hand, rarely disappoints, and this looks fabulous!

  32. Kate says:

    Such an adventurous falafel!

  33. Shannon says:

    ooh, love the pistachios in here! i didn’t watch the vma’s, and still don’t know what happened, so we’ll consider me in the dark on this one ๐Ÿ˜‰

  34. Eileen says:

    Oh, let’s just ignore the VMAs and just stare longingly at this falafel. ๐Ÿ™‚ Or eat it! That would be even better. I love the idea of using pistachio!

  35. Pam says:

    I really felt old after I watched her “performance” because I was both disgusted & embarrassed. It also made me sad that she needs attention that badly.

    I love the idea of serving the falafel on greens – what a healthy & delicious meal.

  36. Wait, did I just miss the VMAs again??? Wow, I always forget to watch them and that’s a pity because I really have fun with them :((
    Anyway, these falafel look amazing, much better than the fried version! I always find that one too greasy, so you bet I’ll be trying this! ๐Ÿ˜€

  37. Chewthefat says:

    I’m so old I never even watched the ‘innocent’ Hannah Montana on TV. I also remember when MTV showed ONLY music videos.

    Although when I was young l loved fried food, this version of falafel is far more in keeping with the needs of my digestive tract, since I feel so frigging old right now… ๐Ÿ˜‰

  38. SallyBR says:

    Sometimes it is hard to find what to say. Part of me realizes that it is normal for “youth” to shock “the past generation”. But another part of me firmly believes that class never gets out of style. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Now, to your falafel, I only have great things to say, for example: pass me two, and be generous with the sauce, will you?

  39. Cindie says:

    Not going to lie, I was always more of a VH1 Top Ten Countdown fan myself…Savage Garden never really hit it as big on TRL as they did on VH1!

    Mighttt need to run out and get a bag of pistachios now…

  40. Megan says:

    You said exactly what I was thinking! And these look awesome!

  41. CCU says:

    Baked falafel is the best my friend, delicious job ๐Ÿ˜€


  42. cassie says:

    I love this take on falafel! Great flavors, Joanne!

  43. a) These look amazing, I can’t wait to make them

    b) I literally JUST watched Miley Cyrus’s VMA performance for the first time 5 seconds ago, and it made me feel sad and weird and gross too. Also the other day my little sister asked “What’s TRL?” and my soul wept.

  44. Amy says:

    I remember racing home from high school to watch the latest videos on MTV. My mother used to cut me off after an hour. Ah, good times. I understand that Miley Cyrus is trying to break free of her Disney persona, but honestly, whoever her “handlers” are should be fired. That performance was just gross. Unlike these falafels! Love.

  45. I love falafel and love that you served it on that big leaf!

  46. Yet one more reason (as if I need another one) why I am proud to say I don’t watch or follow any of these crazy ‘stars’.. ever.
    This is such a great spin on falafel!

  47. I was appalled too but if her purpose was to get everyone saying her name, she accomplished that! I’m also always surprised when I watch awards shows and realize movie videos still exist – who watches them anymore? Anyways this falafel sounds awesome as always!

  48. Velva says:

    Not sure what I saw on the VMA with Miley it seemed wrong on so many levels. She is definitely not Lady GaGa or Madonna…She can’t pull it off.

    However, this more healthy twist on falafel you totally pulled off. The addition of the collard green leaf is a nice touch.


  49. Hannah says:

    Oh god, I only watch clips of it after the fact, and I still don’t think I’ll EVER be ready to discuss the VMA’s.

    These falafel, on the other hand, are a subject I would love to contemplate for hours on end. I may have to swap out the cilantro for parsley, but otherwise, they sound like a fantastic twist on the typical formula!

  50. Sometimes I wish we could go back to the good ole days. And right about now I wish I can have these!

  51. P says:

    Forget Miley Cyrus….I remember the days of Hilary Duff and jammin’ to the Lizzie McGuire Movie Soundtrack! Haha.

    Who knew you could make falafels out of pistachios? Genius :)!

  52. I love falafel but I’ve certainly never had one like this! Sounds incredible, Jo!

  53. Monet says:

    Ugh, I can’t even let myself think about the VMAs. Makes me too sad/upset! Instead, I’ll think about these flavorful and healthy falafel. Too good, sweet friend!

  54. Love falafel- this looks great! Miley Cyrus, however, did not. My favorite comparison was her to Angelica’s Cynthia doll in Rugrats. Too much partying in the USA


  56. Beautiful colours in this falafel… how does pistachio always elevate everything to another level?
    Ha, completely on the same page with you about the VMAs. Since I just moved to Manhattan, my roommate actually managed to snag some free tickets (although she admitted to staring at One Direction the entire time). Imagine my horror when I saw her cellphone snaps and all the tweaking gifs the next day!

  57. I’ve never baked a falafel before nor have I used pistachios – but I can’t wait!

  58. I haven’t watched music videos for some 10 years or so, but I would definitely be up for these falafel! I love the idea of including pistachios, and that they’re baked.

  59. Kristi says:

    See I watched the VMA’s with my 11 year old daughter and her friends, and Miley’s performance was like a train wreck that I couldn’t help but watch, because it was just an OMG situation. I have to say that I liked her song, We Can’t Stop, but can no longer listen to it due to the images that appear in my head.
    I will now replace it with images of falafel, that I have never tried, but always wanted to.

  60. You are so right – I had to just turn it off. All I could think was “tacky”.
    Can’t wait to try these baked falafel!

  61. Miley at the VMAs was…… disturbing to say the least!

    I had a great falafal wrap on vacation, now that I’m back home on the healthy eating train I need to make this version:-)

  62. I love falafel but have never made it. Yours looks SO good!

  63. tigerfish says:

    I have been toying with the idea of using collard leaf as a wrap or something, and there you have it! Interesting rendition of herb and pistachio falafel over there and best of all they are baked instead of fried.

  64. I couldn’t believe Miley S dance and after watching that- I turned the channel to watch something else. Interesting combo in this recipe. Have to try it some day.

  65. Reeni says:

    Love the idea of infusing pistachio into falafel! What unique flavor they must add! I need these in my life!

  66. sandra says:

    my son’s hair grow long – he had a full head of it when he was born – and he is often compared to JT. Weird, cause I had no idea who he was until the comparison – that’s how out of it I am. I love the inclusion of pistachios and all those wonderful herbs! Your burlap is nice too.

  67. Melissa says:

    Just this week I was thinking about how long it’s been since I made falafel. I like your twist. I think I’ll suggest these for Rosh Hashanah menu next week!

  68. Nutmeg Nanny says:

    My mouth is watering over here, this looks seriously delicious ๐Ÿ™‚

  69. Ashley says:

    Now THIS is a great way to eat your greens. Such a fun spin on the deep-fried, carb heavy falafel that I’m used to!

  70. LOVE this post. I may or may not have recorded TRL also…and I haven’t actually watched MTV in a while. This falafel sounds delicious! The pistachios in it make it sound so good! Definitely added to my “to-do” list.

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  72. Paula says:

    This recipe is scrumptious! I adapted it to be heartburn-friendly (, but you had the flavors perfectly balanced. Thanks for sharing!

  73. I’ve always wanted to make falafels but was kinda scared I would destroy them. that an laziness. Laziness had a big hand in it. I need to give these a red hot go!

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