Sweet potato falafel and not your average tzatziki

So it’s Friday night. Every week for me, that means catching the train from Euston back to Manchester. Ma HOME TOWNNNN. I really do hate the trip though. Just thinking of staring at the departures board, waiting for the platform to flash onto the screen, it makes my tummy knot. Is it really necessary to sprint to the train, even when you have an allocated seat? I don’t believe so.

I could rant on and on about the trains. Ridiculously expensive, always overboked, the last off peak train of the afternoon at 3pm (who even finishes work early enough to be able to catch that), and trying to eat my dinner with someone elses bum in my face. No its not that fun at all.

Anyway, talking of dinner. That’s the one thing that gets me through the journey. Why hello Leon. A London based chain of fast food restaurants. But most definitely not your typical fast food joint, no greasy burgers and soggy chips here. Created by Henry Dimbleby, wanting to provide the hungry london hoards with healthy and nutritious food, but quickly. Not a big ask at all.

Expect warming tagines, meatballs, curries, or a fish finger wrap, a superfood salad, even oven baked waffle fries, Leon provides something for everyone at an affordable price. Sick of Pret and Itsu? Then head on over to Leon for a change, you won’t be disappointed. They cater for all diets: vegetarian, pescetarian, meat eater, even some for vegans. If you like what you see and eat grab one of their cookbooks to recreate the recipes in your own kitchen.

And onto the reason we’re all here. Sweet potato falafel. I’m not usually one to eat the same thing over and over. I always like to try something new, that way I can exerience as much as possible. However that has backfired on me many times. Anyone ever get super hangry, can’t make up your mind about two things and ALWAYS choose the wrong one? Done it! All too often.

The stress from catching the train for me is enough, I like to know that I will at least enjoy my food. So from now on, I’m sticking to what I know is good. Sweet potato falafel salad. It casues a lot of confusion as its not techcincally on the menu but hey, I do try to be special and awkward.

Spinach, broccoli, tomatoes and quinoa topped with, baked not fried, sweet potato falafel, roast peppers and aioli. NEW DISCOVERY: ask for the chilli sauce and slather that on aswell, you will never turn back.

I am a huge falafel fan. If its on a menu it will most definitely end up in my belly. After trying it at The Good Life Eatery, Leon and also at the Mae Deli I’ve been on a mission to recreate some just as good, if not better. And there have been many attemtpts. Nothing has been a failure, but ya know, just not right. Either, too dry so it needs to be somethered in sauce (tahini FYI, it heals all things bad in the world), or too dense, or not enough flavour. Give me the issue, i’ve had it, eaten it, but not been completely satisfied.

So on this lovley sunny bank holiday Monday, instead of enjoying the sunshine I of course spent it in the kitchen. When you bake falafel, of course its not going to be the same crispyness that you achieve from deep frying but we don’t want those oxidised fats anyway. The sweet potato keeps them soft, so no dry and crumbly disappointments. Packed with spices and herbs and some sundried tomatoes to give that deep umami flavour that turns anything from meh, to MEGA!


Sundried tomato sweet potato falafel

Eat hot from the oven, or leave to cool slightly. I prefer them this way, or even cold from the fridge, we all know how I love to eat cold leftovers. Top a salad and some grains with a few of the falafel, wrap up in some nori, lettuce, perhaps socca or nibble as is for a snack when those 4pm munchies arrive. Full of protein from the beans and carbohydrates from the sweet poatatoes they’re a well balanced little ball of goodness. need i say more?

Ingredients

  • 2 small sweet potatoes baked until soft in the oven or microwave
  • Big handful coriander
  • Big handful parsley
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tbsp tomato purΓ©e
  • 8 sundried tomatoes
  • 1 heaped tsp ground cumin
  • 1 heaped tsp groundcoriander 
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1 lemon zested 
  • 1 tin white beans (I used Cannellini but chickpeas or butter beans will work equally well)
  • 2 tbsp gram/chickpea flour (maybe 3 tbsp if your mixture is too sticky)

Method

  1. Peel the cooked sweet potato and put the flesh into a food processor with the two peeled cloves of garlic and blend to a smooth purΓ©e
  2. Add all the other ingredients except the beans and gram flour, with a big pinch of salt and blend again until fairly smooth and well combined
  3. Add your beans and pulse until mixed in but still a little chunky for some nice texture.
  4. Transfer to a bowl and mix in the gram flour
  5. Cover and put in the fridge for 30 mins to 1 hour to firm up slightly
  6. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees or 180 degrees fan and line a baking tray with baking paper
  7. Wet your hands slightly then roll the mixture into 1 inch balls, it will be sticky but this is what ensures a soft and squidgy falafel
  8. Place on the baking tray until you run out of mixture, I got around 16 falafels
  9. Brush each falafel with a little oil, and then put in the oven
  10. Bake for 18-20 mins until they feel slightly firm, still with a little squidge and then leave to cool
  11. Serve as you like, maybe with a dip like tahini, hummus or guacamole

Speaking of dips, how about a bonus recipe. Anyone else ADORE tzatziki? I don’t know what it is about the creamy Greek yogurt combined with grated cucumber and finely chopped mint, not forgetting the lemon spritz…it just hits the spot rather nicely.

I do love me a good yogurt. Not those ones aiming at kids with more sugar than a can of coke, I mean a full fat organic natural yogurt with probiotics, give the tummy some lovin’. I know sometimes I overdo the yogurt and the cheese, it’s easily done, but i now need to think of other ideas. The other day I was really craving some tzatziki, but wanted the creaminess without the dairy. So in steps Mr Avocado. No it’s not traditional, but you’re adding another portion to your 5 a day, and I mean come on, avocado, is anyone really going to be complaining.

Avocado tzatziki

Super fresh and herby, but with that cooling creaminess we all love from avocado, perfect for dunking your falafel into. Or dunking anything into for that matter. Pass me over a spoon, I’m hungry!

Serves up to 4 as a dip or spread, or up to two if eating alone for a snack.

Ingredients

  • 1 avocado, soft enough to mash
  • Small handful dill
  • Small handful mint
  • 1/4 cucumber
  • Sea salt and pepper
  • 1/2 lemon

Method

  1. Grate the cucumber on a coarse box grater onto a plate and add a big pinch of salt. Leave for a couple of minutes
  2. Meanwhile,scoop the avocado out of its skin, put the flesh in a bowl and mash it until really smooth.
  3. Squeeze the juice of the lemon into the avocado and mix it in
  4. Finely chop the dill and the mint, put into the avocado and again mix in well
  5. Go back to the cucumber and squeeze over a sink so all the excess water is squeezed out
  6. Then add the cucumber to the avocado mix, add a good pinch of salt and pepper and taste for seasoning

Serve with smugness

And Enjoy

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