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This baked butternut squash and chickpea falafel recipe ticks a lot of boxes. It’s…

Vegetarian
Seasonal
Packed with plant protein
Rich in vitamins and minerals
Baked rather than fried
and
Easy to Veganise or make Gluten-free (just swap out the butter and/or breadcrumbs!)

Share your favourite seasonal recipe in the comments!

butternut squash falafel

For the baked butternut squash and chickpea falafels

1 tablespoon rapeseed oil
500g (prepared weight) butternut squash, peeled, deseeded and roughly diced
1 teaspoon ras el hanout
300g canned chickpeas (rinsed and drained weight)
150ml vegetable stock
1 tablespoon tahini
1 tablespoon chopped mixed fresh herbs (such as thyme, chervil and chives)
120g dried breadcrumbs (preferably panko)
50g linseeds
sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper

For the butternut squash purée

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
300g (prepared weight) butternut squash, peeled, deseeded and diced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
100ml vegetable stock
finely grated zest and juice of 1 lime

For the salad

500g butternut squash, skin left on, cut into 5mm-thick slices, seeds removed
1 tablespoon rapeseed oil
1 teaspoon ras el hanout
150g canned chickpeas (rinsed and drained weight)
a small sprig of fresh thyme, leaves only
seeds from 1 pomegranate, to serve

First, prepare the falafels. Line a baking tray with non-stick baking paper and set aside. Heat the rapeseed oil in a saucepan, add the butternut squash, ras el hanout and salt and pepper, then cover and sweat over a low heat for about 10 minutes or until just before the squash starts to colour. Add the chickpeas and stock, cover the pan and cook over a low heat for a further 10 minutes or until the squash has started to break up and the mixture is thickened and fairly dry.

Remove from the heat and add the tahini, then mash to form a coarse paste. Transfer the mixture to a bowl, stir in the herbs, then cover and chill for 2 hours. (The falafel mixture can be made in advance up to this stage and will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Mix the breadcrumbs and linseeds together in a bowl. Scoop the falafel mixture into walnut-sized balls and roll each portion in the crumb mixture, then shape each one into a ball. Place the coated balls on the prepared baking tray and keep chilled until you are ready to serve.

While the falafels are chilling, make the purée. Melt the butter in a saucepan, add the butternut squash, cumin and salt and pepper, then cover and cook over a medium heat for 8 minutes. Add the stock, then cover and cook for a further 8 minutes or until the squash is completely soft. Remove from the heat and add the lime zest and juice, then purée in a blender or food processor until smooth. Set aside. When you are ready to serve, reheat the purée in a saucepan over a low heat for 3–5 minutes or until it is hot.

In the meantime, prepare the salad. Preheat the oven to 180°C/Gas Mark 4. Line a baking tray with non-stick baking paper. Place the butternut squash on the prepared baking tray, season with salt and pepper, then drizzle over the rapeseed oil and sprinkle with the ras el hanout. Roast in the oven for 20–22 minutes or until the squash are tender. Bake the falafels in the oven at the same time for about 12 minutes or until they are crispy on the outside and hot all the way through.

Remove the falafels and roasted squash from the oven, then stir the chickpeas and thyme leaves into the roasted vegetables to complete the salad.

To serve, spread a spoonful of the purée on each plate, then arrange the hot falafels and warm roasted squash salad on each plate, scatter over the pomegranate seeds and serve.

Serves 6 as a starter or serves 4 as a light lunch

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