And your vegetarian life just became a little better. ??
What? Not vegetarian? Well neither am I but this does not stop the awesomeness that is these little veggie balls of yum!
You’re still not convinced, are you meat-lovers?
That’s fine, by the end of this post you will not want nothing else but zucchini & chickpea falafels in your life so read on (for all the vegetarians out there, I know these falafels have already spoken to you in the only food-seduction way awesome food can, so skip on down to the recipe write your shopping lists. Or you can stay for a bit, that’s totally cool too!)
Fellow meat-lovers I get it, the prospect of a meal without meat feels weird. It feels as though there is something fundamentally missing from your life, as if you’re being cheated out of something; like receiving too little change from the grocery store, or having apple pie without ice cream, or watching TV without Netflix…
It doesn’t seem right.
But I have to be honest to you – from one meat-lover to another – somehow, these little balls of zucchini and chickpea goodness manage to act as a perfect substitute for meat in so many ways. Not that I was convinced of this the first time I made them, a week or so ago, because back then I was still in a “meat with every meal” state of mind.
But then I did make them and one bite – with that distinct chickpea-ness of falafel smoothed over but the cool and health-boosting of zucchini – and I was hooked. So much so that I used them as a form of “meatballs” in a curry the very next day and I went the entire day without eating meat. (Hey Mum, I’ve become vegetarian like you!)
And this was really good because, in the life-long attempt to try and eat healthier and move towards a diet that contains less meat and more of the other great things the food world can offer, these falafels give me the enthusiasm I need.
And now all I can think about is using these falafels in every recipe I make. I want to stuff them into pita breads with tabouleh and hummus; or inside a sourdough baguette, smothered in marinara sauce like some kind of vegetarian meatball sub.
I want to cook them in my 5 Minute Roasted Red Pepper sauce and throw them on top of spaghetti; and even just have a big plate of them – preferably with hummus or some other awesome dip (hint: looking for dip suggestions peeps!)
The possibilities are endless.
So these chickpea and zucchini falafel are ticking all the eating-healthier-with-less-meat boxes right now but, despite their awesomeness, I do have a little problem with them.
I mean, they are quintessentially falafel – with the added zucchini – but the name falafel is just a bit ordinary – a bit cliche – and labels them as a middle eastern type recipe. But they are so much more than just a another food bloggers take on the traditional Middle Eastern snack (as I mentioned before, I used them in a Indian-inspired curry for dinner last week and they worked like a charm). Although there’s nothing wrong with pairing them with hummus, tabouleh, pitas and other such beautiful things, I feel they need a name that suggests they can be used in so many other ways.
The other alternative name I could come up with – scouring the inter webs for inspiration – was the label of “vegetarian meatballs” which makes me cringe to no end. How can something be vegetarian and meat at the same time?
The vegetarian meatball title is just false advertising, right? It tricks us into thinking we are getting one thing, when, really, we are getting something totally different. It’s along the same lines as nonalcoholic beer/ wine, vegan cheese or decaffeinated coffee.
So, my fellow foodies, apart from printing off this recipe and making vegetarian greatness, you also have the task of putting your vivid foodie imaginations into gear and coming up with a kick-ass name for these falafels/ veggie meatballs.
Oven-Baked Chickpea And Zucchini Falafel
Prep Time: 20 mins || Cook Time: 35 mins || Makes: 18 – 22 (ish)
- 250g cooked chickpeas
- 1/3 cup bread crumbs (gluten free breadcrumbs work too!)
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley (firmly packed)
- 1/4 cup fresh cilantro (firmly packed)
- 5 cloves garlic
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp ground black pepper
- 300g zucchini, grated
- Preheat your oven to 200°C/ 390°F
- Spread the grated zucchini out across a baking sheet or large plate and sprinkle over the salt. Allow to sit for 10 – 20 minutes to draw out as much moisture as possible.
- Place all the ingredients except the zucchini into your food processor and blitz until a tacky dough like consistency is formed (you should be able to take it out of the food processor and knead it on the bench top without it sticking too much.) If it is too dry – its crumbles apart – add a tbsp or two of water. If it is too wet, add a tbsp or two of breadcrumbs.
- Place the grated zucchini in a piece of muslin cloth (a thin tea towel or your bare hands also work) and squeeze out as much moisture as you can. Stir the zucchini into the chickpea mixture until well combined.
- Scoop out a heaped tablespoon measure of the mixture and roll into a ball. Place on a lined baking tray and flatten slightly with the palm of your hand. Repeat with the rest of the mixture. Place in the oven for 25 – 35 minutes, flipping the falafels over half way – or until they are lightly browned on either side.