You'll rarely meet a vegetarian who doesn't enjoy falafels, which are delicious and easy to make - usually with chickpeas. But have you ever tried using any different types of beans instead? Obviously different beans contain different nutrients, and so it makes sense to vary ingredients as much as we vary our meals. I made these falafels for my recent Picnic Alfresco, as they make a wonderful little bite-sized addition to a picnic. They are just as tasty cold as they are hot, and can be eaten as they are, or with a dip, or in a sandwich, etc. They're a perfect vegetarian and healthy alternative to cocktail sausages for picnics and parties, particularly for children who are often spoilt with too many hard-to-digest processed foods rather than anything beneficial for health. Children don't need junk food to have a fun picnic, and neither do we, so let's try make our picnics this summer as nutrition-packed as possible!
One tip for preparation - rather than frying my falafels, I always bake them in the oven. Many times I've fried them, and they always begin to disintegrate. I find baking much more effective for lovely falafels - slightly crunchy and cracked on the outside, and the perfect fluffy 'dryness' through. That's the other things about frying them - they soak up some of the oil and even if it's a healthy oil it still means the falafels are a little oily, which I don't like so much.
1 400g can/carton aduki beans, or 230g cooked (from dried)*
1 red onion
4 cloves garlic
150g ground hazelnuts/almonds
1 large free-range egg
2 tblsp fresh coriander
1 tsp parsley
1 tblsp cumin
1 tblsp paprika
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp baking soda
* I always have a stash of cooked-from-dried beans in the freezer... divided up in little portion-sized jars so that I can simply take them out to defrost the night before or morning before I need them. It's really handy if you do a lot of vegetarian cooking. Check out my past post on 'Batch Cooking and Freezing Beans from Dried - the Easiest and Most Efficient Method'.
Drain the aduki beans and rinse them thoroughly under running water until it runs clear.
Put the beans into a bowl and mash them.
Mince the red onion and garlic using a veg chopper or food processor.
Add the onion and garlic to the bowl, along with all the other ingredients. Mix everything up really well - I just use my hands to squeeze the mixture... and it's fun to get a little messy, no?
Shape the mixture into ping-pong-sized-balls and place onto a baking tray. I like to use silicone as it prevents sticking. Pop them into a preheated oven at 180 degrees Celsius for 20 minutes until firm to touch.
Eat hot, cold, any way you want. Enjoy!
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All photos in this post are my own original, taken with my Fujifilm Finepix S8200.