Baked Spinach Quinoa Falafels

In other words: my latest obsession.


It’s taken me way too long to get a falafel recipe right. believe me, I’ve tried almost everything this year from lentils to mushrooms to wild rice. I just could not create a falafel recipe that

a) Didn’t fall apart in my sandwich

b) Wasn’t drier than the Sahara desert

c) Worked every single time

UNTIL this one happened.


Believe me, I’d long given up on the falafel dream, resigning myself to order from the Lebanese lady at the farmer’s market. If you’ve read my vegan carrot cake pancakes post then you’ll know about the abundance of home grown produce in my home. Among these vegetables, we have some leafy green spinach hanging around. To put it to good use, I blindly added it to my food processor with some chickpeas and quinoa. And whoa. And I mean WHOA. These beautiful things came around.


I’m not exaggerating when I tell you that this is all I ate for a week. I could not believe that they were this good and came from my own kitchen. And now, I’m posting the recipe here so that you too can experience heaven in a bite!


Falafels are traditionally eaten in a pita with cucumber and a yogurt sauce. Today we’re keeping it strictly vegan with an avocado sauce that I will also be posting soon. I didn’t have any pitas on hand, but there was some naan dough that I had frozen, so I whipped up a batch of fresh naan and can I just say, BEST LUNCH EVER. So I encourage you today, reader: go forth and make delicious falafel balls!

Baked Spinach Quinoa Falafels                                                              makes about 20 falafel

Ingredients

  • ½ cup dry quinoa
  • 2 cups soaked chickpeas, rinsed
  • ½ cup fresh spinach
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp ground coriander
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper

Method

  1. Start by cooking the quinoa. Add the quinoa to a medium saucepan and cover with a cup of boiling water. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the water has evaporated, about 15 minutes. Remove the cooked quinoa to a bowl and allow to cool.
  2. To a food processor, add the cooked quinoa, chickpeas, spinach and olive oil. Process until combined, about 5 minutes. Remove the vegetable mixture to a large bowl before adding the flour, baking powder, cumin, coriander, cayenne pepper and black pepper. Use a rubber spatula to fold the dry ingredients into the vegetable mixture, stirring carefully to ensure there are no pockets of flour.
  3. Lightly grease a 9×13 inch baking pan or line with parchment paper/aluminium foil. Dampen your hands to make it easier to shape the falafel. Use a tablespoon to portion out the falafel and use your hands to shape into a sphere before adding to the baking pan. Repeat until you’ve used up all the mixture. If the mixture fails to hold together, add flour 2 tbsp at a time until it does. Refrigerate the falafel for 20 minutes whilst you preheat your oven to 180°C/350°F.
  4. Bake the falafel for 15 minutes before gently turning over and baking for another 10 minutes. Serve warm in a pita with cucumber and tomatoes. Enjoy!
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Loaded Quinoa Lentil Burgers with all the Fixings 

Today, I’m pulling out all the stops. 


This week, I felt like putting together something big. Enormous. Sensational. Between experimenting with my new camera and trying out recipes from my vegan cookbook, I thought about what to bring you next. Since the recipes I post usually go with what I’m feeling at the time, I opted for these vegan burgers. I cannot tell you how many burgers I’ve made in the past month. 


I’ve been craving umami a lot since I stopped eating meat. For those of you unfamiliar with the term, umami refers to one of the flavours your tongue can detect, along with sweet, sour and bitter. Umami is what you would call the savouriness of a dish. Unfortunately for me, I tried to replicate that by eating a lot of salt- obviously not a good idea. 


 Good old Google came in handy here, by suggesting that I introduce umami rich foods into my diet, such as mushrooms, sweet potatoes and balsamic vinegar. So what did I do? I incorporated all these elements into the ultimate feel good vegan burger. Mushrooms fried and dressed in a balsamic vinegar reduction, sweet potato fries on the side and gorgeous crispy onion rings, how could one ask for more? 


But wait! There is more!!!! These pickled red onions are about to be your next guilty pleasure. The crisp bitter flavour of the onions just works perfectly with the soft mild avocado, and don’t get me started on what it does for the burger as a whole. It just works and I don’t know why yet- but when I find out, trust that you’ll be getting a post about it. 


I’m working on a couple more science posts to bring you because I realized that I haven’t been doing that a lot lately and I send you all my apologies in the form of this burger. Don’t take my word for it – go out and try it! 

Loaded Quinoa Lentil Burgers with all the Fixings.                                          makes 4 patties

Ingredients

For the burger patties:

  • ½ cup uncooked brown lentils
  • ½ cup uncooked quinoa
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup button mushrooms, sliced thinly
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
  • ¼ cup fresh parsley
  • A handful of fresh rosemary
  • 4 burger rolls

For the pickled onion:

  • 1 red onion, sliced thinly
  • 150ml of white vinegar
  • 2 heaped tbsp granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp salt
  • 250ml water

For the onion rings:

  • Enough vegetable oil for shallow frying (my estimate is 1 cup)
  • 1 large white onion, sliced cross-sectionally to yield rings
  • ½ cup plain flour
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 cup crushed cornflakes
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper

For the sweet potato fries:

  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and sliced into fries
  • 2 tbsp cornflour
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp olive oil

Extras/Toppings:

  • Sliced avocado
  • Sliced tomato
  • Mayonnaise/Vegannaise
  • Barbecue sauce

 

Method:

Make the burger patties:

  1. In a large saucepan combine the lentils and quinoa and cover with the water. Cook for 20 minutes or until you can see the white tails on the quinoa and the lentils are soft. Set aside to cool.
  2. Coat the bottom of a frying pan with olive oil on high heat and fry the mushrooms and garlic until the mushrooms are dark brown and have softened, about 5 minutes. Pour in the balsamic vinegar and reduce the heat to low. Cook, stirring frequently until the balsamic has reduced and most of the liquid has evaporated. Set aside.
  3. Add the lentil quinoa mixture, mushrooms, parsley and rosemary to a food processor. Pulse until you have a thick mixture that holds together and can easily be shaped into patties. This took me about 2 minutes. If your mixture is too heavy for the food processor, then you can add 2 tbsp of water to ease it along.
  4. Shape the mixture into 4 patties and at this point you can either refrigerate them to cook later or cook straight away. This recipe is freezer friendly, separate the patties with parchment paper and seal in an airtight plastic bag.
  5. Heat a skillet on high heat and brush with olive oil. Cook the patties for 5 minutes on either side before flipping. Serve immediately

For the pickled onion:

Dump the red onion at the bottom of a 500ml glass jar. In a measuring cup, stir together the vinegar, sugar, salt and water. Pour it over the onion and fill up the jar with as much liquid as possible. Give the jar a good shake and let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.

For the sweet potato fries:

Start by soaking the chopped sweet potatoes in cold water for 30 minutes. Drain before adding the cornflour, cinnamon, cayenne pepper and sugar and tossing to coat. Lie in a single layer on a baking tray and roast for 25 minutes without turning. Serve hot.

For the onion rings:

Heat vegetable oil in a deep saucepan to 350°F. In a medium bowl, combine the flour and water to make a thick batter. In a shallow dish, crush the cornflakes till they resemble breadcrumbs and stir with the cayenne pepper. Dip the onion rings first in the batter then the cornflakes and fry for 3 minutes or until deep golden brown, turning once halfway. Serve immediately.