Falafel, the popular Middle Eastern blend of chickpeas and spices, are usually deep-fried but this recipe proves they taste just as good without frying, not to mention being healthier.
Instead, they are coated in dukkah, an Egyptian spice, nut and seed mix, which gives them a wonderfully fragrant crunchy crust. You can easily make dukkah yourself, or pre-mixed tubs of it are available in delis and supermarkets. If you don’t wish to pickle your own red cabbage, a shop-bought jar will be fine.
For the Falafel
– 50g oats
– 400g can chickpeas
– 100g sun-dried tomatoes (from a jar)
– 2 tbsp peanut or almond butter
– ½ tsp paprika
– ½ tsp ground cumin
– 1 spring onion, roughly chopped
– 1 small garlic clove, peeled and roughly chopped
– Small handful of fresh coriander leaves
– 4 tsp dukkah
For the Pickled Red Cabbage
– 50ml apple cider vinegar
– Juice of 2 limes
– 1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
– 1 red chilli, finely chopped, de-seeded if you prefer less heat (optional)
– 2 tbsp clear honey
– ¼ head of red cabbage
For the Spinach Pesto
– 250g baby spinach
– 50g pumpkin seeds
– Finely grated zest and juice of 1 lime
– 1 garlic clove, roughly chopped
– Large handful of fresh mint leaves
– 125g Greek or natural yoghurt
– 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
– Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the Yoghurt Drizzle
– 25g Greek or natural yoghurt
– Juice of ½ lime
– 4 flatbreads or tortillas
– 10g sprouted peas or salad cress
– Hot chilli sauce, to taste (optional)
– Mandolin (or sharp knife)
– Food processor
1. Half-fill a kettle with water and put it on to boil. Line a tray with non-stick baking paper and set aside.
2. First, prepare the pickled red cabbage. Pour the vinegar and lime juice into a medium bowl or resealable food bag. Add the garlic, chilli and honey. Stir everything together or seal the bag and give it a good shake.
3. Remove the core from the red cabbage and discard. Very finely shred the leaves using a mandolin or sharp knife. Add to the vinegar mixture and give it a toss or shake to coat well. Cover the bowl or seal the bag and chill in the fridge for at least 1 hour or overnight, tossing occasionally. This will keep in the vinegar solution in the fridge for up to two weeks.
4. To make the pesto, place the spinach in a large bowl and pour over enough just-boiled water to just cover, pressing it down with the back of a spoon. Leave for 3–4 minutes until wilted. Meanwhile, blitz the pumpkin seeds in a food processor to a fine crumb. Add the lime zest and juice, garlic and mint. Drain the wilted spinach and refresh under cold running water. Squeeze it dry in a clean, double-layered J-cloth and add to the processor. Blend the mixture until as smooth as possible. Add the yoghurt and oil and blitz again to blend. Season to taste. Transfer to a small bowl, cover and chill in the fridge until needed. This can be made a day ahead and kept in the fridge.
5. For the yoghurt drizzle, place the yoghurt in a small bowl, add the lime juice and 2 teaspoons of cold water and stir to loosen and combine. Cover and chill in the fridge until needed.
6. To make the falafel, blend the oats in a food processor until really fine. Drain and rinse the chickpeas and add, along with the sun-dried tomatoes, nut butter, paprika, cumin, spring onion, garlic and fresh coriander. Blitz to give a moist but not wet mixture. Shape into 20 balls (each weighing about 20g), arranging them on the prepared tray as you go. Sprinkle the dukkah into a wide bowl or resealable food bag and add half the falafel. Give them a gentle toss or shake until all are coated and return them to the tray. Repeat with the remaining falafel. These can be made up to two days in advance and kept covered in the fridge, or they can also be frozen.
7. When ready to serve, fold the flatbreads into quarters and pop each one into a toaster. Toast for 1–2 minutes until beginning to colour. Carefully remove, open them out into halves and flip back to quarters the opposite way around. Pop them back into the toaster for a further 1–2 minutes. The flatbreads should be warmed through, lightly coloured and just turning crispy on the edges, but not crisp all over.
8. To assemble, open up the warmed flatbreads onto serving plates. Spread the spinach pesto into the centre of each. Drain the pickled red cabbage and scatter it over them. Arrange five falafel on each and drizzle with the lime yoghurt. Garnish with the sprouted peas or cress, and serve with hot chilli sauce for an added kick, if you like.
For a Twist
– To make these gluten-free, choose suitable oats and serve with gluten-free flatbreads or tortillas.
Photo Credit: Cristian Barnett
Sharon Hearne-Smith has over two decades of experience of ghostwriting, recipe testing and food styling for high profile cookbooks, food magazines and TV cookery shows.
She has worked with some of the biggest names in the business, including Jamie Oliver, Rachel Allen, Lorraine Pascale, Gordon Ramsay, James Martin, and on BBC’s Ready Steady Cook. Sharon lives in Dublin with her husband and two daughters.
Sharon’s books, No-Bake Baking and The No-Cook Cookbook are available in all good bookstores and online at Amazon and Easons.