I know you’ve all been eagerly awaiting to find out what was on those tortilla/wrap/flatbread sandwiches last week. Your wait is now over.
I’ve never made falafel before, and when the opportune moment arrived I decided to mix it up a bit and add in some more flavours to the little chickpea ’meatballs’. I love mushrooms in any form, so that seemed like quite a good choice, and from experimenting with curries in the past I know that mushroom, spinach and chickpea is an absolutely killer combination. I thought it might be time to try that combination in a different form, and thus the mushroom and spinach falafel was born.
Mushroom and Spinach Falafel (makes 14 falafel):
- 2 small blocks frozen spinach
- 125g button (or other) mushrooms
- 2 spring onions, sliced into rounds
- 1 clove smoked garlic
- 400g tin of chickpeas
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1/4 tsp sesame oil
- 1 tbsp water (taken from the defrosted spinach)
- zest of 1/2 lemon
- salt and pepper to taste
- 3 tbsp brown rice flour (ground in spice grinder from brown rice)
I started by putting the frozen spinach in a little bowl and covering with boiling water. I left that to defrost while I set about finely chopping the mushrooms and sauteeing them with the spring onions and garlic.
When the mushrooms were cooked, I put them into my food processor along with all the other ingredients and processed until a paste was formed. I didn’t discard the water from the spinach straight away, instead keeping some of it to loosen up the falafel mix a little – I figured I may as well keep as much of the spinach flavour as possible.
I shaped the mix into fourteen balls. The rice flour holds the mix together really well – it’s absorbent without being gluey or chalky as other flours can be. Rice flour can be a bit gritty but when it’s mixed in to something like this that’s not a problem. I made my own by simply grinding the grains of brown rice until they were a fine powder – you can see a little more info here.
I put the falafel in a frying pan that I’d sprayed lightly with oil, over a medium heat, and cooked for about two minutes on all sides until browned – for these purposes, you can treat the falafel a bit like dice, so there are six ‘sides’.
When they’re browned all over, they’re ready to eat. You could actually eat them as soon as you shape them, there’s nothing raw in there, but cooking them firms them up a bit and adds some texture. Falafel are usually deep fried but I wanted to take a healthier approach. Plus I’m a bit scared of deep frying.
I served them with the tortilla/flatbread/wraps, some fresh lettuce (grown in Father Rock Salt’s garden), some cauliflower roasted in ginger oil and a quick lemon, coriander and yogurt dressing. A couple of the wraps were a bit on the crispy side, so they got torn up and tossed with the other ingredients to turn the whole lot into a salad.
And there we have it – an interesting and wholly successful experiment in falafel. I like the idea of trying different flavours in future, and possibly experimenting with the texture of the mix – leaving it coarser might be nice, but would they be too crumbly then? I think these particular falafel could stand to have more by way of mushroom flavour – either more mushrooms added to the mix, or a dash of mushroom ketchup might do the trick. I’ve often looked at mushroom ketchup in the shops but never bought it – does anyone have any experience of it?