Baked Sweet Potato Falafel
No, this is technically not a Thanksgiving post. I know the whole blog world (and who am I kidding? the whole country in general) is buzzing with festive Thanksgiving posts and ideas, and even though I do have a couple plans of my own in mind, I’m not going to blog about them ahead of time. Don’t get me wrong, I love the holidays. I’m buzzing with festivity! Just today my boyfriend told me, “if there were such a thing as being overly festive, you would be it.” (He means it lovingly, don’t worry.) But the thing is, I have not been eating cranberry chutney, wild rice stuffing, or a pumpkin roulade around here–at least just yet.
So, today I am instead going to share what I have been munching on this past week: baked sweet potato falafel. I don’t think I’ve ever tried regular falafel–you know, the deep-fried, only-chickpea version–so I hardly feel qualified to draw a comparison on these. But what I can tell you is that though these may not be crunchy, nor filled with fat, they have that immensely satifsying texture that only smoothly soft carbs can achieve. And like Katie says, the fact that they’re not deep-fried allows for the flavors of the sweet potato to really stand out, while still being able to showcase the large dose of middle eastern spices, garlic and cilantro.
The simplicity of the recipe only adds to this comfort-food appeal–the whole process, though involving a little patience, relies on not much more than a little oven time, a little stirring and shaping, and then a final last bit in the oven again. It’s basically a one-bowl deal (and the importance of this should never be underestimated). As shown in the picture, I served mine with a serving of couscous, some sauteed kale, and a large glob of tzatiki sauce. However, I think these little falafel wrapped in some warmed-up pita with a drizzle of a lemon-tahini sauce would be best. If you end up making them you might want to play around with how you serve it–I thought the zing of the tzatiki, though delicious, almost overpowered the falafel.
This dish would require more than a stretch to try and be able to fit it in with the flurry of Thanksgiving-themed dishes flying around on the internet, so I’m not going to try (I respect the holidays too much anyway to try and attempt that). It is, however, a simple, comforting meal that deserves attention in its own right. It’s a dish easy enough to fall back on when the coming season’s chaos–or has that already happened? Either way, Happy Thanksgiving.
2 medium sweet potatoes (yams), around 700g or 1 1/2 pounds in total
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 small cloves of garlic, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 handful of fresh cilantro, chopped (optional)
Juice of half a lemon
1 cup (120g) chickpea flour
a few tablespoons sesame seeds, for sprinkling
salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees and place whole sweet potatoes directly on oven rack for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until just tender. Once removed from the oven, let them cool until manageable. Peel and discard skins–they should come off easily.
Mash together the cooled and peeled sweet potatoes, cumin, garlic, coriander, cilantro (if using), lemon juice and chickpea flour into a large bowl. Season for salt and pepper. Once well mashed with no large chunks remaining, stick in the fridge to firm up for an hour, or the freezer for 20-30 minutes. At this point, your mix should be sticky-smooth rather than wet. If necessary, add a tablespoon or more of chickpea flour (this varies depending on the water content of the sweet potatoes).
While chilling, preheat the oven to 400 degrees and oil a baking sheet (I used parchment paper but would go without it next time in order to develop a golden crust on the bottom). Using a couple of large spoons, scoop up a mound of the falafel mixture and shape it back and forth between the concave sides of the spoons to form a football-like shape. Press sesame seeds along the outside of the falafel and place on prepared baking sheet. Bake in the oven for around 17 minutes, until the bases are golden brown.