Falafel Circles with Tahini and Tomato Salsa or Pickled Cucumber

Falafel are a Middle Eastern ‘fast food’ made of dried chickpeas and fresh herbs. The round patties are traditionally fried, but here I am not only baking them, but also making them unconventionally flat. I hope knowledgeable falafel lovers will forgive me, but the oven baking is to keep the method as simple as possible and the shape is to allow the toppings to stay put and not land on the floor. They are great as part of a canapé selection or as part of a mezze platter and as they are vegetarian, gluten free and (with a suitable yoghurt substitution) vegan too, everyone can enjoy them. Made a bit larger they can be stuffed into pitta pockets with the toppings for a tasty and healthy lunch.

Ingredients - makes approximately 20

100g dried chickpeas soaked in cold water over night. Tinned chickpeas are too wet.

1/2 tsp baking powder

20g parsley

20g coriander

1/8 tsp chilli powder

1/2 tsp cumin

Zest of one lemon

Method

Drain the chickpeas and dry a little with a clean tea towel or some kitchen paper.

Chop the herbs roughly and put them in a food processor with the chickpeas and the rest of the falafel ingredients. Whizz together until the chickpeas look like coarse sand - you need some texture, don’t let it get too smooth.

In your hands, make small balls of the falafel mixture (mine were about 12g each). Flatten the balls to make rough circles and place them on a lined baking sheet. Put in the fridge while the oven heats up to 190°c or leave longer in the fridge if more convenient. They are fine left covered for 24 hours or longer.

When the oven is hot, smear a baking sheet with olive oil and heat it up in the oven for 5 minutes.

Quickly place the falafel on the hot sheet and spray or brush the tops of the falafel with olive oil.

Cook for 10 minutes, until the bottoms are beginning to acquire golden patches. Flip the falafel over and cook the other side for another 6 or 7 minutes.

Cool and store in the fridge if not needed immediately. To serve, bring to room temperature and then top with the tahini and tomato salsa or pickled cucumber. They will keep in a cool place for several hours.

Tomato salsa

Ingredients

1 medium sized tomato

Salt

1/4 small red onion

Half a lime, juiced.

1 dessertspoonful chopped coriander

Method

Make a criss cross cut in the skin on the top of the tomato. Plunge the tomato into boiling water and leave for a few seconds, until you see the skin on the cross slightly lift. Take the tomato out of the water and peel off the skin. Deseed the tomato and chop.

Put the chopped tomato into a small colander and sprinkle salt over. Leave to drain for at least an hour.

Add 10g (or according to taste) of chopped red onion, the lime juice, salt and the chopped coriander. This will keep several hours in the fridge.

Pickled cucumber

Ingredients

4cm length of cucumber

1tbsp white wine vinegar

1 tbsp caster sugar

1/2 tsp salt

1 small red chilli

Method

Mix the vinegar and sugar together until the sugar dissolves.

Peel and deseed the cucumber and cut it into small cubes.

Put the cucumber and red chilli into the pickling solution and leave. The longer it is left, the stronger the cucumber will become, but an hour is fine.

Pat the cucumber dry on kitchen towel. Put a small spoonful of tahini sauce on each tahini circle and sprinkle the pickled cucumber on top. Chop some of the pickled chilli and sprinkle over. The pickled cucumber keeps really well in the fridge.

Tahini sauce

Ingredients

1 tbsp Greek yoghurt (or vegan substitute)

1 tsp tahini

1/2 tsp lemon juice

Salt

Method

Mix everything well together and store in the fridge until needed.

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