Adaptable Baked Falafel Recipe

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You might know by now that I hate wasting food and I’m not a very exact cook (measurements are an enemy to speed in my kitchen). This might make my recipes a bit harder for you guy to follow (I hear you collectively cursing me in your kitchens…), but it might make you better at cooking (or so I tell myself…) by encouraging you to experiment, learning to adapt recipes, and really getting a feel for your food (smelling, tasting, touching – but not if it’s hot!).

Bread is one of our staples food items that we collectively waste more than any other in the UK! I found this scary statistic in an article from the BBC:

“According to research by anti-food waste organisation Wrap, 680,000 tonnes of “avoidable” bakery waste is disposed of each year at a cost of £1.1bn, about 80% of it from packs that have been opened but not finished.”

And there are further frightening stats to be had in the WRAP Food Waste Report.

The horror indeed! Think of how many people we could feed with that much leftover bread! Think of how much money we might have saved if we’d bought less or eaten what we had already! Think of the resources (such as electricity and water) that have gone into producing that loaf or roll that could have been used more wisely elsewhere!  But let me get down from my soapbox before I pull a muscle and let’s talk about food and making use of all this bread that we’re throwing away.

This is my go-to adaptable (non-traditional) falafel recipe which uses old bread crusts (I keep them in their bags in the fridge until I’m ready to use them), a few cupboard staples, and spices to make a delicious (and nutritious) item that you can make a variety of different meals with. Best of all you can freeze them too!

Anyway, let’s cut to the chase; my recipe – I can’t say how many this will serve because you might decide to make more or have them in different types of dishes. When I make them with 2 crusts of bread and a tin of chickpeas, they usually last 2 people for 2 meals and I aim to make an even number so we each get an equal amount! You will need:

Leftover bread (I usually end up using the crusts because that’s what’s left in our house)

Tinned Chickpeas in water (or other beans) – don’t drain, I often use the water to moisten the falafel mixture

Sunflower or pumpkin seeds

Spices: Ground cumin, dried parsley, chilli (ground or flakes), salt

Optional: Lemon juice, harissa spice paste or powder, freshly chopped parsley, and other leftovers (e.g. cooked rice or potatoes)

Preheat the oven to 200 C. Line your baking sheets (depending on how many falafel you’re making) with parchment or baking paper. Tear up the bread and blend until you have breadcrumbs. Don’t bother about them being too fine, but the bread shouldn’t be clumpy.

Add the chickpeas and a bit of the water (don’t add it all in one go otherwise the mixture might get too moist!), the spices (to taste), about half a handful of the seeds for a nice texture (you can always add more later) and any of the other optional ingredients I’ve listed above. Then blend!

The mixture should be slightly sticky, enough to be able to roll it into a ball in your hands, and still have a few chunks in – you don’t want mush. If it’s too dry, add more of the chickpea water and blend up. If it’s too wet, add more bread and blend. And if it’s too smooth, add more seeds. This is where you can practice feeling up your food!

Roll it all into golf ball sized rounds and place onto a lined baking tray. Place your baking tray(s) into the preheated oven and bake the falafel for 15-20 minutes, checking on them halfway to flip them over. They should be a toasty golden brown colour.

I like to use them to make falafel salads for my lunches, or warm falafel pitta sandwiches with hummus for my other half. I also like to include them in mezze plates or even in tagines!

Do you find yourself wasting much food? Do you think recipes like this would help you to minimise your food waste? How would you serve these falafel?

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