Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Sweet Potato Falafel and a Green Salad

This is my kind of cooking.  We eat mostly vegetarian at home so I am always in search of hearty vegetarian recipes, meals that come together into something greater than the sum of their veggie parts.  Now, it`s not really falafel, having eaten incredible falafel in Jerusalem, and fine specimens in many European countries where they take their falafel very seriously, I should tell you, this recipe is something different.  This sweet potato based falafel is served with chopped tomatoes and pickles, a garlicky sauce and fresh pita bread for scooping it all up.  The sweet potato mixture is baked, so it doesn't have the crunchy falafel crust but it is still very satisfying.  The cumin, garlic and cilantro is there, and the use of chickpea flour to bind it all together, makes it legit.  I originally saw this recipe on the 101 Cookbooks website.  After tasting this peculiar but delicious dish, I was hooked and have been making it regularly ever since.  I immediately ordered the Leon cookbook, where the recipe originally came from.  As I said, this is my kind of cooking and I needed more of it.  The book comes from a chain of restaurants in the UK, called Leon.  They serve healthy, fast, flavourful food, as stated in their clever motto, "food should taste good and do you good".  The book delivers many satisfying, wholesome recipes and lots of food information, all wrapped up in a pretty package with lots of style, gorgeous photos and thick matte pages.

Sweet Potato Falafel

Notes:  Leon serves this dish with a garlic mayo sauce called Aioli.  It is an absolute must with this falafel.  Here is a recipe to make your own from scratch, or you can simply mix a small, minced garlic clove with 1/2 cup of mayonnaise, a little salt and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.  Mmmmm.


2-3 sweet potatoes, about 1 1/2 lbs total
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 small cloves of garlic, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 big handfuls of fresh cilantro, chopped
Juice of half a lemon
a scant cup (120g) chickpea flour (gram flour)
a splash of olive oil
a sprinkling of sesame seeds
salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
Roast the sweet potatoes whole (in tin foil or on a baking sheet) until just tender, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Turn off the oven, cool the sweet potatoes, then peel.

Put the sweet potatoes, cumin, garlic, ground coriander, cilantro, lemon juice and chickpea flour into a large bowl. Season well with salt and pepper, and mash until smooth with no large chunks. Chill the mixture in the fridge for an hour to firm up (or the freezer for 20-30 minutes). After chilling, the sweet potato mix should be sticky but not wet, you can add a tablespoon or so more of chickpea flour if necessary.

Reheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Scoop the falafel using 2 tablspoons, put a rounded spoonful of mix in one spoon and use the other spoon to shape the balls, scraping the mixture off of one spoon onto the other until a "quenelle" or an oval shape forms.  Transfer them to an oiled tray. Sprinkle sesame seeds on top and bake in the oven for around 15 minutes, until the bases are golden brown.

Makes about a dozen. Serve with chopped tomatoes and pickles, pita bread and Aioli (see notes above). Serves 2-4 people.

Paula's Favorite Green Salad
Origin: Oprah

Notes:  I've been making this green salad for a few years now.  I don't really remember who Paula was or why I tried her favorite salad.  But I did, and it works.  I love the simplicity of it, and it pairs well with anything when you need to add a little green to your meal.


1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
salt and freshly ground pepper3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

8 ounces mixed baby greens
1/2 cup mixed fresh herbs, such as chervil, mint, basil, parsley, dill, cilantro or tarragon leaves (I used a mix of parsley and cilantro this time to compliment the falafel)
2 medium scallions, thinly sliced
1 avocado, peeled and thinly sliced

In a large bowl, whisk together lemon juice, mustard and vinegar, season with salt and pepper. Slowly whisk in olive oil until blended. Add greens, herbs and scallions to the bowl and toss just before serving.  Top with avocado slices and serve.


  1. i love these falafel! and i am definitely adding your salad idea to the next batch. i tweak my recipe a bit by adding parsley and some sumac. here's my version

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