Spicy Cauliflower Falafel with Beet Dip

Since my weight-loss surgery last May, my cooking has focused mainly on getting the most protein as I can from whatever I eat. I'm a happy carnivore but if you put your mind to it, you can easily make your protein quota from vegetables and grains as well.

So when I saw a falafel recipe on one of my favorite food blogs, Cook Republic, using cauliflower and butter beans, I knew I'd be able to take a break from meat for one meal and still get my protein needs met. Beans (in the falafel) and nuts (in the beet dip) are excellent sources of protein, as well as almond flour. Sneh (of Cook Republic) uses spelt flour in her falafel, but I substituted that for chickpea (garbanzo bean) flour which has more protein than spelt does - but if you're not overly concerned with your protein intake, feel free to use spelt flour. The goal here was to use gluten-free flours.

I've enjoyed a few good falafel which have usually been fried, so that's how I cooked mine. I've included Sneh's instructions on baking the falafel below her frying technique, but if you fry these hot and fast (they only take a few minutes to cook) and drain them well, frying up a few falafel is not going to kill you.

I was a little short on pine nuts so I tossed in some pecans for good measure.

I was a little short on pine nuts so I tossed in some pecans for good measure.

The beet dip is lovely and I can think of dipping lots of tasty things into it (including the leftover cauliflower I had which I roasted). I found it needed the help of a couple tablespoon fulls of water to help get it to the right consistency, but it's a cinch to whip up. You can make both the falafel mix and the dip in advance and fry the balls up at your leisure. The cooked falafel will also freeze well.

I chose to eat mine "sammy" style with pretty red lettuce, store-bought pita bread (gasp!) and some micro-broccoli greens with a drizzle of that gloriously purple beet dip.

Let me know what you do with yours!

Spicy Cauliflower Falafel with Beet Dip

Recipe slightly adapted from Sneh Roy of www.cookrepublic.com

Serves 4

Ingredients

for the falafel

2½ cups cauliflower florets
1 14oz can butter beans, rinsed and drained
½ cup (35g) flat leaf parsley
½ cup (60g) almond meal
80g chickpea flour
3 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon chili flakes
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1½ teaspoons sea salt flakes
¼ teaspoon baking powder

for the beetroot dip

1 14oz can whole baby beet, rinsed and drained
1 garlic clove
2oz toasted pinenuts
sea salt flakes and black pepper to taste

salad leaves and/or pita to serve

Instructions

  1. Place cauliflower, butter beans, parsley, almond meal, chickpea flour, garlic, chili, cumin, salt and baking powder in the jug of a food processor and process until coarsely chopped and mixed.
  2. Shape the mix into 20 golf ball sized balls.
  3. Heat sunflower or vegetable oil in a small saucepan on high (oil height in pan at least 1-2 inches).
  4. Carefully drop 3-4 falafel balls in the oil and fry for a minute or two until cooked and golden. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Repeat for remaining balls.
  5. To make the beetroot dip, place all ingredients in a small food processor and blitz for a few seconds until smooth. I added water, one tablespoon at a time, to help loosen up the dip.
  6. Serve falafels on a bed of greens and/or with pita and beet dip.

Notes

For a healthier version you can bake the falafel. Preheat your oven to 400F. Line a baking tray with baking paper. Place rolled, uncooked falafel balls on baking tray. Spray with cooking oil and bake in the oven for 30-45 minutes turning the balls once to ensure even baking. Falafels are done when they are dark and golden all over.