Baked Falafel and My Middle Eastern-Inspired Abundance Bowl

In keeping with my intention to share more of my "everyday" recipes, today I'm writing about my most favourite meal, this Middle Eastern-inspired abundance bowl. Well, I guess If I'm being truthful, my most favourite meal might be beef cheek with ricotta gnocchi, slow roasted lamb or Sicilian swordfish...but for an everyday favourite, this meal is everything. And by everything I mean nourishing, fun to eat and crazy delicious.

Why "abundance bowl"? I believe it was the lovely Sarah who coined the term. It refers to bowls that are jam-packed, positively brimming (!) abundant with goodness. This version contains falafel and spiced eggplant with a tahini sauce, so I labelled it "Middle Eastern". Please forgive any deviation from true Middle Eastern preparations or sensibilities, the emphasis is on "inspired", as I do not hold any real authority on the matter. But I do love me some cumin and tahini. And my hope is that this recipe does just that - inspire some wholesome comfort eating. Bowl food is perfect for Friday night couch + movie dates. With a generous glass of wine. So let's get at it.

They key components of my abundance bowls are a roasted vegetable of some earthy variety + a protein (falafel, grilled prawns, marinated tofu or, at a pinch, boiled eggs or tinned fish) + loads of interesting, textured vegetables (leftover roasted kale or cabbage, grated beetroot or carrot, spinach leaves or rocket, fresh herbs) + dressings/sauces/dips/olives. Vary the particulars as you wish, play with the seasons and your cravings and "leftovers" situation. Try as I might, I find it difficult to stick to eggplant season (they're more of a Summer/Autumn food) and I do purchase them year round. Ben and I just cannot get enough. And as they travel well across many different dishes, cuisines and cravings, they tend to feature in many of our "abundance bowl meals". I intend on returning soon with my Mexican-inspired abundance bowl. It involves creamy spiced corn and prawns and is everything you want in a lazy, late-Summer meal with a cold beer and salty hair.

But for now, soak those chickpeas and grab your jar of tahini.

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Middle Eastern-Inspired Abundance Bowl

Inspired by My New Roots

Serves 2

10-12 Baked Falafel (see recipe below)
2 spiced, baked Eggplant halves (see recipe below)
1 handful Kale (baked into chips or raw and massaged with lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil)
1 small-medium Beetroot
2 tablespoons Olives
2 heaping tablespoons Hummus or Tahini Yoghurt Sauce (see recipe below)
1 handful Greens (rocket, baby spinach, more kale, whatever you like)
1 handful Fleatleaf Parsley, chopped
Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Lemon Juice, Sea Salt and freshly cracked Black Pepper

Method: place the leaves and kale in a bowl along with the baked eggplant and baked falafels. Grate the beetroot and add this as well. Scoop the hummus/tahini sauce and olives. Then drizzle with extra virign olive oil and/or lemon juice, and season to taste. Scatter fresh parsley and serve.

Baked Falafel

Makes ~40 falafel (bake all then freeze any leftovers in a snaplock bag, or store them in the fridge and eat over a few days. You can easily half the batch. Any frozen ones I defrost then re-bake with more olive oil to warm through, or try them cold if you wish)

Adapted from Chocolate and Zucchini's Oven-Baked Falafel.

Begin this recipe 8 hours prior to preparation.

2 cups Dried Chickpeas
1 Brown Onion
4 cloves Garlic
4 tablespoons Chickpea Flour*
3 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 teaspoons Sea Salt
2 teaspoons ground Cumin
1 teaspoon Smoked Paprika
1 teaspoon Sweet Paprika
1 teaspoon ground Coriander
2 handfuls Flatleaf Parsley leaves

* Chickpea Flour is available from Supermarkets in the Indian section or Indian grocers

1. Soak the chickpeas for at least 8 hours (or overnight) in a bowl, covered generously with water (they expand! so do be generous with the water).
2. After soaking, rinse the chickpeas well then add to a food processor along with the onion (roughly chopped) and peeled garlic. Pulse until finely chopped. Add the chickpea flour, olive oil, salt, spices and parsley and pulse to combine. It should look like Clotilde's instruction example (see here).
3. Cover and let sit in the fridge for at least 1 hour.
4. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius and line two baking trays with baking paper. Put on a show or podcast and get ball rolling. Form them into walnut-sized balls using your hands and place them on the baking sheet.
5. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes until golden, flipping halfway through and rotating the pans if browning unevenly.

Spiced, Baked Eggplant

2 large Eggplants (note, this allows for leftovers - future salads!)
6 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 cloves Garlic, crushed
1 & 1/2 teaspoon ground Cumin
1/2 teaspoon Smoked Paprika
1/2 teaspoon Sweet Paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground Coriander
1 heaped teaspoon finely diced Preserved Lemon (optional) 
Option: replace the spices with Harissa

1. Wash then cut the eggplant in half lengthways. Sprinkle generously with salt then leave for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius.
2. Mix 5 tablespoons of the oil with the garlic, spices and preserved lemon in a small mixing bowl. Stir well to combine then set aside.
3. Use a paper towel to remove the water that has come to the surface of the eggplant faces. Place the eggplant on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Rub the spice oil mixture over the face of the eggplant, massaging it in. Drizzle the extra oil over the top if it's looking a little dry (they may be super big eggplants).
4. Bake in the oven, spiced face up, for 15-20 minutes. Remove the tray them flip them over and roast them bottom side up for 10 minutes, then flip again and roast for a further 10 minutes until golden and bubbly.

Tahini Yoghurt Dip

1/4 - 1/3 cup Hulled Tahini (to taste)
2 tablespoons Greek or Natural Yoghurt  
1/2 clove Garlic
1 juicy Lemon
1/2 teaspoon ground Cumin
1 tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 tablespoon Water (or more, depending on tahini/yoghurt thickness)
Sea Salt to taste

Method: blitz all the ingredients in a food processor. Taste, and adjust for seasoning/thickness as desired. It often takes me a couple of alterations to get it juuuuust right. Also, I like a thicker sauce so add more oil/water for a thinner version.

Heidi xo