Tuesday, 17 May 2011

You're having a falaf

In other news I have been getting better at remembering about lunch. This is a big step towards being a normal person, or so I have been told.
At work, lunch is usually an irritating pang of hunger that is often ignored or quenched by downing a quick bowl of soup. Quite often, in fact, breakfast and lunch are usually combined - unfortunately not in a relaxing brunch kind of way, more like toast and marmalade at half eleven. The thing is, for me lunch is never a meal to get excited about unless I'm on holiday and it includes some chilled rosé and charcuterie in the sunshine.

The last 2 weeks have been different because I actually took time off work (shock!) and the days seem to be longer when you don't have a million things to do.  My plans for the time off consisted of sewing, watching crappy films and generally eating what I wanted as the other half was sadly at work (ha ha!).  This meant crappy films with subtitles and lots of yummy vegetables, hurrah!  For lunchtime I really want to have something that requires very little prepping and cooking, for me that means a variation of a mezze platter.  Tasty salad, yogurt dressing, soft pillowy flat bread, babagonush or hummus, grilled chicken or...

Butternut Squash and Goats Cheese Falafel

Falafel is the perfect snack, starter or flat bread filling and is getting so popular that McDonald's is now serving the "McFalafel" in some countries, a wonderful wikipedia fact that I couldn't wait to share with you.  This variation on the classic falafel includes two of my favorite ingredients, sweet butternut squash and zesty soft goats cheese.

Also this recipe, as well as being delicious, is also very cheap to make. I used dried chickpeas and soaked them overnight because in the past I've used tinned for hummus (humous, houmous?? I never know) and all it tasted of was the fousty brine. Lovely. Plus dried are cheap, 500g was only 97p and more than double in weight once soaked for 24 hours.

I made A LOT of these falafels with the thought that I could could freeze a big batch and lunch would just be a case reheating and munching, this is possible but they are so much better fresh from the pan.  I would recommend either only making as much as you will eat (and this an easily adjusted recipe) or make a large batch of the mixture and freeze, then defrost and fry.

This recipe is adapted from the Abel and Cole site which has some cracking recipes that celebrates the wonderful world of veg.

makes 20 - 25 falafel

1/2 small to medium-sized butternut squash, deseeded
4 spring onions, cut finely
2 cloves of garlic, chopped finely
2 tsp of cumin seeds
1 tsp of chilli seeds
400g soaked chick peas
20g fresh mint
20g fresh coriander
100g Abergavenney goats cheese
100g fresh breadcrumbs
1 egg yolk
1 tsp baking powder
salt and pepper
plain flour (for rolling)
olive oil (for frying)

The day before soak the chickpeas, at least 24 hours in advance.  They will double in size so for the sake of this recipe soak 200g of dried chickpeas.  If, after soaking, there is a little more than 400g chuck them in a salad or stew, if its a little less don't worry.  Rinse thoroughly once soaked.

The next day preheat the oven to 200c/390F/Gas Mark 6.  Cut the squash into 2-3cm chunks, no need to peel as the skin becomes lovely and chewing when roasted and adds texture to the falafel.  Place in a roasting tray and sprinkle over 1 tbsp of olive oil, the cumin seeds, chilli flakes, a good pinch of sea salt and a proper grind of black pepper.  Toss it all together and place on the middle shelf of the oven.  Roast for 20-30 minutes, turning occasionally.  Once soft and caramelly, cool to room temperature.

Add all the remaining ingredients and the squash (plus any juices) to a food processor and blitz together to make a rough paste.  Test a small amount of the mixture by taking a small piece and form a ball, if the paste falls apart too easily add a tablespoon of plain flour and blitz again.  Season with salt and pepper.

Scoop the paste into a large bowl with a spatula and cover tightly with clingfilm.  Chill in the fridge for a minimum of 2 hours.  To shape the falafel; dampen your hands, take about a tablespoon of the mixture and shape into a ball.  Dip the ball into plain flour and place on a plate lined with greaseproof paper.  Repeat.

Heat some olive oil in a pan, it needs to have a depth of about 1 inch.  Test the temperature with a piece of bread, once the bread fries to a golden colour the oil is ready.  Cook 5 falafel at a time, making sure not to crowd the pan, for about 3-5 minutes until golden and crispy.  Drain on kitchen paper.

Have a perfect lunch.

A salad dressing made with natural yogurt, lemon juice and very good extra
virgin olive oil.  Goes beautifully with a salad of crisp, thinly cut veg.


  1. Ohhh, I love falafel. Love it. I must confess I've never tried to make them at home though. And you're quite right - made my lunch look rather limp in comparison!

  2. Oh thanks Rosie! Was very yummy too. Always been a huge fan of falafel but making it at home was really an excercise in thrifty-ness as its SO much cheaper than buying them ready made