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Being a busy mum I need recipes that taste ace but are super-easy to make. I absolutely LOVE food but I am not the world’s greatest cook. I’m too impatient to lavish the care, time and attention necessary to produce something really spectacular. However, I’m a massive greedy-guts and love nothing more than making something really tasty for dinner and watching everyone enjoy it.

This recipe for Sweet Potato Falafel is a gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian recipe I’ve tweaked and adapted over time to be as easy, healthy and flexible as possible, an amalgamation of various falafel recipes I came across – I really love falafel but too many of the recipes I found were either time-consuming, involved deep-fat-frying or had a million ingredients. This version is oven-baked, has very few ingredients, most of them standard store-cupboard ones (and various interchangeable ones to suit whatever is currently in your cupboards/fridge) and takes hardly any time at all to make. It’s surprisingly filling, really nutritious and sooooooo tasty, great for introducing little people to middle eastern flavours and a perfect finger food.

Also, the only truly essential ingredients are the sweet potato, chickpeas (although you could even do it without these) and some kind of spice/herb – anything else is a bonus and just makes it taste nicer, it doesn’t really matter too much if you’re missing one or two of the other ingredients, you can either just leave them out or substitute with something similar. You can also prepare the mixture and shape the falafel balls in advance so that all you need to do when you want to eat them is whack them in the oven, perfect for weekday family meals. It’s also lovely refrigerated and eaten the next day so takes care of tomorrow’s packed lunches too.

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SWEET POTATO FALAFEL
Serves 4 adults (or a family with several kids!)
15 mins prep time
30 mins cooking time in the oven

INGREDIENTS

Sweet potatoes (3 regular sized or 1 of the massive ones!)
Chickpeas (1 x 400g can, drained & rinsed)
Peanut butter / almond butter (1 dsp of each, or 2 dsp of whatever nut butter you have)
Garlic (2 cloves, chopped finely)
Lemon juice (of half a lemon)
Ground cumin (1 heaped tsp)
Paprika (1 heaped tsp)
Ground coriander (2 tsp)
Fresh coriander / parsley / mint (large handful, chopped – I prefer coriander but any of these works great)
Plain flour (1 tbsp – I use gluten free flour but any plain flour is fine)
Sesame seeds (3 tbsps)
Salt + pepper (to taste)
Oil (any kind) / butter (for greasing the baking tray)

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METHOD

Preheat the oven to 200˚C / 400˚F / Gas Mark 6

Cook the sweet potato whole until soft. You can oven bake them for about an hour, or microwave them for about 10 minutes if you’re short on time (I always intend to oven bake but always end up microwaving them).

– While the potato is cooking, chuck all of the other ingredients into a large mixing bowl, apart from the sesame seeds

– When the potato is cooked, cut them in half and scoop out the flesh into the bowl containing the other ingredients.

Stir the mixture thoroughly then blend it. It doesn’t have to be completely puréed, I quite like it with the odd lump of chickpea in it. You can do this in a food-processor if you prefer, but I always just do it with a hand-blender, it’s much quicker, easier and less of a ball ache to wash up.

– Using a spoon or your bare hands (bare hands! bare hands!) shape the mixture into falafel-sized balls – I tend to do them anywhere between golf ball to snooker ball size. It really doesn’t matter if they are a bit wonky, I think it adds to their ‘rustic’ charm!

If you’ve got sesame seeds, roll the falafel in them to coat them. If you’ve not got any sesame seeds, you can do without them – you might just want to pat the falafel with floury hands to make them less sticky.

– Place all the falafel on an oiled baking tray (I just use either butter or olive oil but any kind of oil/grease would do!) and bake in the oven for 15 minutes until the undersides are golden-brown. Turn them over and cook for a further 15 minutes until golden-brown all over. The beauty of this recipe is that everything is all technically cooked before you even bake it, so the oven baking is just really to crisp them up and brown them, you can always take them out of the oven earlier if you end up caught short on time!

Serve with a couple of any of the following: pittas, wraps, burger buns, lettuce, tomato, cucumber, red onion, houmous, coleslaw, tzatziki, a drizzle of tahini, chopped/roasted veggies, tabbouleh, olives, couscous… whatever you fancy!

Hope you like it!

Do you have any failsafe falafel recipes? Please do share them in the comments below, we’d love to see them!

{Anna}