A spin on the classic falafel, grain free black bean falafel bowls are packed with roasted veggies, turmeric cauliflower, purple potatoes and tossed with feta, olives, and tahini.
Thank you friends for sticking with me for two whole weeks FILLED with tomato recipes. In case you missed it I just finished up a series of 5 simple ways to use up 40 lbs of tomatoes. It was a doozy and I’m grateful that y’all were willing to get up to your elbows in tomatoes with me.
Moving on, an action I am suppressing as fall is very much at our doorstep, let’s keep cooking our way through a CSA share. I am holding on to the very last bit of summer by devouring my favorite end of summer veggies. My friend Bethany from Plainsong farm gifted me a bag of veg from her farm and I wanted to show you what I made with it. In the bag were Japanese eggplants, red bell peppers, Hungarian hot peppers, purple potatoes (major heart eyes), and a mix of mizuna greens that were so flavorful. I roasted the hearty veggies up, along with some turmeric cauliflower and made these grain free black bean falafel bowls that are SO swoon worthy.
Grain Free Black Bean Falafel Bowls
You guys, I’m not on a new diet. Seriously, after 12 years of being a strict vegetarian/vegan I am so over strict diets. I’m all about that 80/20 flexibility. But I have been working really hard at eating lots of veggies, lean protein, and experimenting with a lower grain intake than usual. So basically, I’m just skipping the toast in the morning and eating some sautéed veggies with my eggs instead. Or making a salad with some of my favorite roasted veggies and some leftover roasted chicken rather than a turkey sandwich at lunch. I’m curious about what eating a little less grains will do for my body, and I have been granting myself extra permission lately to follow my curiosity.
I have been inspired to make a recipe like grain free black bean falafel bowls because I’ve been hearing some buzz around the internet lately that even vegetarians, like Sarah Britton of My New Roots, are skipping the grains as a means of balancing hormones and healing the gut. “Grain free” is more than just cutting out gluten. It’s avoiding all grains: rice, corn, and oats included. The reason for removing grains is that these carbohydrates peak your blood sugar. This can get in the way of hormone function or cause confusion in the endocrine system. But of course, this only works if you cut sugars out of your diet as well. While I haven’t noticed any major changes in the way my body has felt the past few weeks, I think making more room in my diet for vegetables is kind of a no brainer. Grain free black bean falafel bowls sits nicely in that camp while also being vegetarian and vegan friendly.
Black Bean Falafel?
I have been on a serious falafel kick lately. It was maybe a year ago when I first learned that falafel was made of soaked, uncooked chickpeas (not cooked chickpeas like I had thought, and tried to make with disappointing results), and the best way to process them for falafel was in a meat grinder. Say what? Yeah, like most ordinary people I do not own a meat grinder. But when we moved in with my mom in July, we were blessed with the access to one. So I have been making it religiously. But, once again, my curiosity stepped in and asked, “can you make falafel the same way with other kinds of beans?”. I tested it out, and friends, you can! And don’t worry, I made these without a meat grinder so that mortal humans like us can actually make them.
Making your own falafel takes work. I’m not going to pretend that this is some 30 minute meal. But, it is fairly simple to do. Simply process your soaked beans in a food processor…
until is reaches a course, mealy texture. It should form a ball easily when you squeeze it in your hand.
After the beans are processed you dump them out into a large bowl, wipe out your food processor, and then puree the herbs and seasonings that go in the falafel. The reason I divide this task up is because 1) you need to have a huge food processor to fit the beans in with the onions, cilantro, parsley, and spices and 2) the onions and herbs need to be processed more than the beans do.
Once you mix together your beans and herb mix, you scoop them into little balls. I made them into hockey pucks because I shallow fried them in a small amount of oil. Shaping them into spheres would result in an under and unevenly cooked falafel. Of course, you can always deep fry these babies. I ain’t gonna judge. You. Do. You. While on the opposite end, these baked up really nicely with no oil at all for half an hour at 400 F.
This turmeric cauliflower is my jam right now. It goes well with so many other meals. I really bulked up on these in my grain free black bean falafel bowls which left just a small amount of room for potatoes (which I could eat all day! Why are carbs so good?!). Luckily, this turmeric cauliflower roasted in coconut oil and some garlic is 100%! I’m willing to share a little less room for potatoes for these saffron gems. Just be careful! That turmeric can stain. This here pan of my mom’s is now permanently, 100% yellow. (Use foil or parchment paper and maybe gloves)
I made my falafel bowl with some olives, feta cheese, a dollop of tzatziki, and a drizzle of tahini on top of all my roasted veggies and black bean falafel. But you can dress this up anyway you please. This bowl is like yoga, do what works best for you.
HOW IS YOUR CSA GOING?
All summer long I’ve created recipes for the series I’m doing called “What to do with your CSA Farm Share”. Did you purchase a CSA this year? Tell me how it’s going. What struggles did you have? Did you try out any of the recipes I made for this series? If so, what was your favorite? What other resources have been helpful for you as you cooked your way through the summer? Your opinion and perspective are so valuable to me as I work to improve the content here at POP KITCHEN to meet your needs. Leave a comment below or send me an email through my contact page.
WHAT’S IN SEASON THIS WEEK | SEPTEMBER 13- 19
Here’s what you’re most likely to find in your farm shares or at a farmer’s market this week.
- Loose leaf lettuce*
- Sweet peppers*
- Winter Squash
The asterisked items are featured in this recipe.
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- 2 cups dried black beans soaked for 24 hours
- ½ large white onion
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 cup cilantro, packed
- 1 cup parsley, packed
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- 2 tsp ground coriander
- 1 tsp lemon zest
- 2 tsp sea salt
- ¼ tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
- ½ cup light olive oil (if shallow frying)
- 1 small head cauliflower, cut into florets
- 1 Tbsp coconut oil
- 1½ tsp turmeric (careful, this may stain your hands and pans. Use protection!)
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- generous amount of black pepper
- ½ tsp sea salt
- 1-2 red peppers, seeds and stems removed and cut into large pieces
- 1 japanese eggplant cut into medium thick slices (on an angle if you're fancy)
- 3 cups diced purple potatoes or potatoes of your choice (even sweet potatoes will work here)
- 1-2 tbsp refined or "light" olive oil
- a generous pinch of sea salt
- Handful of Mixed Greens
- Feta cheese
- Extra parsley or cilantro
- Sumac for garnish
- FALAFEL: The falafel is going to take the longest. Make this first or make ahead to waste as little time as possible. Drain the black beans and pour them into your food processor. If your food processor is small you will need to do this in batches. Process the beans until they have obtained a mealy texture that packs easily into a ball when you squeeze it in your hands (see the photo above). Dump out the beans into a large bowl and rinse or wipe it out the food processor for processing the remaining ingredients.
- Add the onion, garlic, parsley, cilantro, spices, lemon zest and salt to the food processor and purée until you have a smooth, green smoothie looking sauce. Mix this in with your falafel until it is well combined. Washed hands are the best tool for this. Using a small ice cream scoop or just your eyeball, make balls about the size of a golfball. Compact the mixture in your hands before rolling into a ball. If you are baking or shallow frying, gently shape the balls into small hockey pucks. If you are deep frying, keep them in spheres.
- At this point your method of cooking your falafel is up to you. You can either bake it in the oven for 30 minutes, turning halfway, deep fry it in light olive oil or shallow fry like I did. Here are the directions for shallow frying. In a heavy bottomed pan like a cast iron skillet add ½ cup light olive oil and heat the oil on medium high. You can test the oil to see if it's ready by dropping a small bit of the falafel mix into the oil. If it bubbles immediately than it is ready. If the oil starts smoking it is too hot. Carefully drop each falafel into the hot oil and cook until it is golden brown, about 3-5 minutes. Flip it over and do the same on the other side. Place the cooked falafel on a paper towel to dry and repeat.
- TURMERIC CAULIFLOWER: Preheat the oven to 400 F/200 C/6 gas. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or tin foil. Place your cut cauliflower on the sheet pan, drizzle it with coconut oil (you may need to microwave it if it is solid), and sprinkle it with turmeric, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Toss together with your hands. Wear gloves if you want to avoid super yellow finger nails. Roast in the oven for 30 minutes, flipping the cauliflower over halfway through.
- ROASTED VEGGIES: On another sheet pan place the sliced peppers, eggplant and potatoes, keeping them separate. Drizzle with the light olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt. Toss each veggie group separately (don't mix everything together) with your hands and spread them out into a single layer. Bake for 30 minutes, turning halfway through.
- BUILD A BOWL: In a bowl or plate, layer your veggies together with a handful of mixed greens, some olives, and feta. Place the falafel on top and drizzle with tahini and/or add a dollop of tzatziki. Add a little sumac for shimmer and tangy flavor.