These falafel are a colorful and fragrant twist on the Middle Eastern staple. Unlike traditional falafel, these are baked and contain different vegetables, taking on their colors, flavors and nutrients. Beet-pickled turnips make a great topping for this dish but can be served on many other sandwiches and salads.
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Pink Pickled Turnips
1 1/2 cups water
2 1/2 tablespoons sea salt
1 pound turnips—spiralized or peeled and sliced into sticks or any other way you prefer
1/2 small beet, peeled and sliced
1 bay leaf
1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
Few sprigs of fresh dill or dill flower (optional)
Dash of red pepper flakes (optional)
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
4 tablespoons flax meal, divided
3 tablespoons sesame seeds
1/2 cup pecans
1 1/4 cups cooked or canned chickpeas, drained well and dried with paper towels
3 tablespoons sesame tahini
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons coconut sugar
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt, or more to taste
Large handful each parsley and mint leaves (optional)
1/2 tablespoon cumin seeds
2 cardamom pods, crushed, green shells discarded (optional)
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds (optional)
2 cups loosely packed spinach leaves
1 small or 1/2 medium sweet potato, peeled and finely shredded
1 small or 1/2 medium beet, peeled and finely shredded
How to Make It
Step 1 Make the pickled turnips
In a small saucepan, heat 1/2 cup of water with the salt to dissolve. Let cool.
Place the turnips, beet, bay leaf, garlic, dill and pepper flakes into a clean glass jar.
Add the vinegar and the remaining 1 cup of water to the salty water, and pour the brine over the vegetables. Cover and let sit at room temperature to pickle for one week. Refrigerate until ready to serve and use within one month.
Step 4 Make the falafel
Preheat oven to 375°. Combine 3 tablespoons of flax meal with the sesame seeds and set aside for coating the falafel.
In a food processor, grind the pecans into a coarse meal. Add in the reserved 1 tablespoon of flax meal, chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice, olive oil, coconut sugar, garlic, red pepper flakes, salt and herbs (if using).
Grind the cumin, cardamom and mustard seeds with a mortar and pestle or a designated coffee grinder, then add to the food processor.
Divide the mixture into three even portions, leaving one in the food processor. Add the spinach to the food processor and combine well. Remove from the processor into a designated bowl and wipe the machine clean.
Put the second portion of the chickpea mixture into the food processor, along with the shredded sweet potato, and process to combine. Remove the sweet potato/chickpea mixture into a designated bowl. No need clean the food processor this time.
Repeat the same with the shredded beet and the last portion of the chickpea mixture.
Form falafel balls of three different colors, rolling each ball in the flax and sesame coating as you go. Place them on a parchment paper-covered baking tray. If the spinach and/or beet mixture turned out too moist for handling, simply add about 1/4 cup of ground rolled oats to absorb the extra moisture.
Bake for 15 minutes, turning the falafel every 5 minutes to achieve even color. Let cool.
Serve wrapped in any favorite green leaves (lettuce, collard greens or cabbage) or in pita bread pockets. Garnish with pink pickled turnips, fresh radish and cucumber slices, Greek-style yogurt with lime juice to taste mixed in, herbs and/or hummus.
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