This recipe for vegan oven-baked lentil and beetroot falafels sort of came about by accident last week. I was doing a quick check of what food I had in my cupboard to see what needed to be used and what needed to be tossed. I sadly don’t have a fancy walk in the pantry where everything is stored at eye level, so a lot of things seem to disappear into the depths unless I do a regular rotation.
I found two half-used packs of dried lentils so decided to cook them up. They are from Woolies and the lentils only take 20 minutes to cook. I had a pack of Ina Paarman’s new roasted beetroot in red wine vinaigrette, and since I adore beetroot falafels, I thought I would make a healthier oven-baked version. Normally I would use chickpeas because I actually prefer these to lentils, but I thought I would give lentils a bash. I’m sure chickpeas would work as well and I always prefer to soak and cook them myself when I make hummus.
The texture of the mixture rolled perfectly into balls and didn’t crumble while baking at all. They roasted until slightly crispy around the edges but were soft on the inside. They were, however, a little dry but I was happy to forego the deep-frying for this healthier version and decided to eat them with two different sauces. I always love veggie-loaded pita bread or sandwiches, so it was a giant salad bowl with whatever salad things I had in my fridge which got stuffed into the toasted pita pockets. Lots of in-season slices of avocado helped add additional creamy texture and a batch of my zucchini tzatziki was the business.
*Cooks notes ~ if you can’t get hold of Ina’s roast beetroot or don’t live in SA, use any cooked beetroot. I made a second tahini dressing with yoghurt to temper it, but also drizzled a little of the runny tahini over the balls. This is entirely optional. I find tahini very strong on its own so tempered it with yoghurt and lemon juice
Recipe ~ makes about 16 – 18 baked falafel balls
- 2 cups of cooked lentils (according to the pack instruction but so that some texture of the lentils still remains) PS – I added 2 cloves of bruised garlic to the cooking liquid when I cooked the lentils (optional)
- 150gms drained Ina Paarman roasted beetroot in red wine vinaigrette (reserve the vinaigrette to add to the salad or use in other salads) – or any cooked beetroot
- 20 gms coriander/cilantro leaves stalks and leaves (a decent handful)
- ½ – 1 jalapeno (seeds removed to make it milder)
- 1 clove crushed garlic (this is very mild so add more if you like it garlicky)
- ½ tsp ground cumin
- ½ tsp salt
- a few grinds of black pepper
- 2 – 3 Tbsp tahini
- 2 Tbsp lemon juice
Serve with a giant bowl of salad with anything you like in it like lettuce leaves, sliced red onion, sliced avocado, shaved fennel, sliced radish, shredded carrots/beetroot, fennel leaves, sliced cucumbers and tomatoes or baby tomatoes.
And toasted pita bread
- 4 medium zucchini, grated
- 1 cup plain yoghurt (full-fat Greek style is better)
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- 1tsp dried oregano
- 1tsp chopped fresh mint
- Juice of ¼ lemon
- Drizzle olive oil
- Salt & freshly ground black pepper
- 2 Tbsp tahini
- ¼ cup (60ml full-fat Greek yoghurt)
- 1 – 2 Tbsp lemon juice
- salt and pepper to taste.
Preheat the oven to 180C /350F
Place all the ingredients into the bowl of a food processor and grind up until you have a sticky texture. You don’t want to mash this up too much but you want it mashed up enough that when you roll a falafel ball together, the mixture doesn’t fall apart.
Using a heaped tablespoon, measure out the falafel mixture and roll it into balls. Place them on a lined baking tray and roast in the oven for about 20 minutes until they start to get crunchy on the outside.
While the falafel balls are roasting, make your tzatziki and tahini sauce:
To make the tzatziki:
Place the grated zucchini on a clean kitchen towel or muslin and wring several times until all the liquid has been squeezed out. If the zucchini are very dry and you are eating them immediately, you can skip this step. When drained, place it in a bowl with all the other ingredients and mix. Season to taste.
To make the tahini dressing:
Mix all the ingredients in a small bowl, stir to combine and season to taste.
A few other recipes with beetroot: