Vegan Scene

baked falafel and beet slaw
July 30, 2010, 6:57 pm
Filed under: recipes | Tags: , ,

fragrant falafel, creamy tahini, and slaw piled atop our vegan- grown salad leaves

Before we started messing around with our own falafel recipes, we’d buy dry falafel mix, add water, and shallow fry them with lots of oil in a pan. Even after pat-drying, they were always oily, and the insides were dry and colorless. Hot, freshly made, just-baked falafel is a totally different food altogether, and one of the most comforting additions to a colorful salad.

When we cook, we usually cook a lot of food so that we have more than just one meal available from our efforts. This mix supplied over four dozen small falafel balls, so we’ve enjoyed many quick falafel-and-salad meals this past week. We made up the batter and left it in a plastic, lidded container. Whenever we wanted to eat, we rolled out the balls and baked them. The beetroot slaw and tahini dressing  stay fresh in tupper-ware  for a few days, too.  This dish is great if you happen to be catering for many people and you’ve got access to an oven.  You can pre-roll the falafel balls to bake just before serving, and prepare the salad ahead of time. It’s definitely a ‘cook in bulk’ favorite.

This is not a traditional falafel mix. We have taken the liberty of adding all the flavors we love. Feel free to drop certain spices or herbs. Whatever you want.  We do not actually have a set recipe,  but I want to share the basic structure we follow.  The integral instrument for this dish is the food processor. If you don’t have one, you can try using an electric mixer. Mashing/hand whisking might work too, but will probably require significant time and effort to get everything into a chunky batter.

Falafel Basic Ingredients:

  • 2 chopped onions
  • 7 cloves of garlic
  • lemon juice from one or two lemons
  • these fresh herbs: parsley, basil, oregano, coriander ( aka cilantro outside of UK)
  • olive oil
  • one teaspoon or more of the following spices: paprika, cumin, cumin seed, mustard seed, curry powder
  • about 120 grams dry bulgar wheat
  • about 120 grams graham flour
  • 2 cans of cooked chickpeas (or if you’re re-hydrating, about 250 grams dry weight)
  • salt n peppa

The procedure is as follows:

  1. First, set your oven to 200 degrees Celsius, or 392 degrees Fahrenheit. Next, cook the bulgar. Simply place it in a pot, cover in water, sprinkle with salt, boil, reduce heat to the bare minimum, and cover until all the water is absorbed and the grains are tender. This should all take about 5 minutes. Cook the chick peas if you’re re-hydrating them yourself.
  2. Put the fresh herbs, stalks and all, into the whizzer. If you don’t have one, you will need to chop the herbs finely. Be generous! Blend/Stir/Mix.
  3. Add 2 or 3 (or 4?) tablespoons of olive oil. Add the garlic- it’s  nice but not essential to quickly roast it for 5 minutes or until soft before incorporating. Again, if you don’t have a processor, you will need to mince this stuff up.
  4. Toast A few tablespoons of cumin and mustard seeds in a dry pan set to low-medium heat on the stove.  This only takes a few minutes. You can stop when they are popping.
  5. Add the popped spices along with the powdered spices (paprika, cumin, curry powder). Stir it up for a moment.
  6. Add the other ingredients (the cooked bulgar, chickpeas, graham flour, onion, salt, pepper,  and lemon juice), gradually, blending as you incorporate bits of each ingredient. Blend it ’til it is a goopy paste that is thick and form-able. You probably won’t need to add water, but do so gingerly if you do. Beware the fatal mistake of adding too much liquid.
  7. Now you are ready to roll the batter into balls and bake them. Use non-stick baking paper. After about ten minutes, turn the balls over. Bake for another five to ten minutes, at which point they should be ready. Test one by cracking it open if you want. Now they are ready to eat!

As for the slaw, you’ll need to peel three or four medium sized beet roots. Next grate the beets with a large red onion.  A food processor is excellent for this step.  Add lemon juice and whatever seeds you have on hand. Tinker with the dressing ingredients or add new veggies to the slaw to make a new creation. Pile up on salad leaves or by itself to serve along side pretty much anything!

We also used a tahini dressing for the falafel and salad, which keeps fresh when sealed in a container and chilled. Simply whisk a few heaped table spoons of tahini paste, six or seven minced garlic cloves (slightly roasted is nice here, too!),  a few table spoons of lemon juice, salt and bit of water.

The above will make enough for two people to eat three or four light meals. It may sound involving, but it only took about 45 minutes to prepare everything and get our first servings on the table.