I’m always trying to make my lunches more interesting by adding different spices and condiments to my vegetables and grains such as adding paprika to my sweet potatoes, or turmeric to my rice and quinoa, but recently, I’ve been feeling a bit bored with my meals. The protein source of my lunches are what I usually keep relatively simple as I’ll most likely just dump in some canned beans or lentils to my salad bowls, wraps or sandwiches. I’m definitely happy that my taste buds have altered since eating a more plant based diet because I love eating simple foods now, which is great for my digestion and my budget! One of my go-to favourite meals are just rice or quinoa, with steamed vegetables (I’ve been using frozen vegetables here and there) and canned chickpeas. Super cheap, healthy and easy on the gut. But, there are days when I want something a little bit different, especially if it’s a day when the only purpose I have for that day is to eat food… then, I want something more exciting.
Introducing my holy grail, chuck into anything to make it taste good, Baked Sweet Potato Falafel! I’ve been experimenting for a while with these pillows of goodness, trying to get the right ratios, the right ingredients and the right blending/cooking time. Firstly, I tried it with pumpkin, then sweet potato, then beetroot and came to the conclusion that the sweet potato worked the best! I also noticed I was definitely over blending the mixture way too much and making something that definitely resembled hummus. As a result, I left them in the oven for waaaaay too long in hope that they would dry out and they did just that. I ended up with crispy and flakey falafels, not the soft and fluffy one’s I was hoping for. Anyways, after a lot of experimenting and tweaking, I feel confident in the recipe that I’ve generated, with the help of a few recipes I found online to get me started.
Baked Sweet Potato Falafels
1 medium sweet potato (1- 1.5 cups mashed)
2 400g cans of chickpeas
1 brown onion
4 large cloves of garlic
1 cup of fresh parsley (loosely packed)
2 tbsp of tahini
2.5 tsp of ground cumin
2 tsp of ground coriander
pinch of salt + pepper
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius.
Cut the sweet potato into cubs and place into a steamer (or a microwave) and steam for about 15 minutes. Once soft, mash it with a fork or potato masher.
Roughly chop up the onion and place onto a baking try with the garlic (don’t take the skin off of the cloves).
Rinse the chickpeas and place those onto another baking tray. Put both trays into the oven for 15-20 minutes. Check the oven at the 15 minute mark as you don’t want the chickpeas to go crispy.
While the chickpeas, onion and garlic are in the oven, roughly chop up the parsley and get the other ingredients ready.
Once cooked, take the chickpeas, onion and garlic out of the oven and set up your food processor or high speed blender. Remove the garlic from it’s skin.
Place the chickpeas into the food processor first to make a crumb by using the pulse option. Add all of the other ingredients and pulse to combine the ingredients. Be careful when blending! You don’t want to do what I did and over blend the mixture because you may as well just serve it as a hummus rather than a falafel. Just continue to pulse, blend on a low speed or continuously stop and start the blending (if you don’t have the option to pulse) in order to create a texture where you can still see some roughly chopped onion, garlic and parsley.
Use a not stick baking tray or baking paper to line your tray. Use a tablespoon to spoon out a heaped tablespoon of mixture into your hands, form this into a ball and place it onto the tray. This recipe makes roughly 25 falafel.
Change the oven to fan forced and bake for 40-45 minutes. I checked on mine every 15 minutes to swap the trays over so the falafel would cook evenly. The falafel are done when they are golden and crispy on the outside and aren’t too soft to the touch.
Take out of the oven, leave to cool on the tray and store in an airtight container for up to a week. These are also freezer friendly!
Now that I’ve shared the recipe, here’s a great buddha bowl idea that you can make that doesn’t use the typical middle eastern flavours and ingredients that are usually paired with falafel.
Roasted Veg Buddha Bowl with Sweet Potato Falafel
Half of a cauliflower + 1/2 – 1 tsp of turmeric and a pinch of pepper.
12 brussel sprouts + 1/2 tsp- 1 tsp of ground cumin and a pinch of pepper.
1 small- medium Hawaiian Sweet Potato (or any sweet potato, but the one’s with the white skin and purple flesh are my favourite). Optional: add 1 tsp of paprika.
1 cup of uncooked quinoa + 1 tsp of turmeric
2 heaped cups of baby spinach
1/2 cup of canned chickpeas
1 tbsp of tahini
juice of one lemon
salt + pepper
8 Sweet Potato Falafel
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius, fan forced.
Firstly prepare your quinoa by adding 1 cup of quinoa to two cups of water, plus the turmeric into a saucepan. Bring to a boil and then simmer, covered, for 12-15 minutes. Once the quinoa is done, drain any excess water and fluff it up with a fork.
Dice up the sweet potato into chunks, cut up the cauliflower into bite sized florets and cut the brussel sprouts in half. Season each vegetable with their respective seasoning and place on separate trays. I placed my sweet potato straight onto the tray, skin side down, but I used baking paper for the brussel sprouts and the cauliflower.
Leave the sweet potatoes in the oven for about 35-45 minutes, or until the skin is crispy and the insides are soft. Take the brussel sprouts and cauliflower out at around the 30 minute mark.
To make the dressing, place the tahini and lemon juice into a small bowl with a pinch of salt and pepper. It will initially be rather thick so gradually add water, 1 tbsp at a time, to achieve a consistency that is easy to drizzle.
To assemble the bowl, roughly cut up the spinach and place into each bowl with one cup of quinoa and mix together. Place the vegetables and the falafel into the bowls. If you used a large sweet potato then just use as little or as much as you like. Top the bowl with any herbs and spices you like! I used some chilli flakes but coriander or parsley would have done great as well.
That’s it! I hope you enjoyed this falafel recipe as well as the sneaky buddha bowl idea.