Do you like felafel? Do you have a favorite veggie “burger” or “meatball?”
Over the years, I’ve experimented with many variations on mudpies made with vegetables. I am, after all, a potter, and we like nothing better than a good mudpie. Cook’s illustrated’s Ultimate Veggie Burger is very, very good, but quite a project to make. Their Black Bean Burgers are also very good. I make both often. And I’m not immune to the occasional charm of a Boca burger when I’m in a hurry. But, still, the search continues…
Most people like a good felafel, including me. But…and correct me if I’m wrong…so often felafels are dry and kinda funky. And not so healthy because of all the frying. If I’m going to eat something deep fried, it better be mindblowing. Like those Belgian fries in NYC across the street from Blue Man Group. Or was it Stomp? Don’t even get me started!
I tried making my own shallow fried or pan fried felafel, and they just weren’t that good. Even if I was willing to eat a deep fried felafel, I’m not willing to make them. I am simply not interested in the mess and smell and inherent danger in a big pot of roiling oil. And again, if I were willing to deep fry, I’d be frying potatoes, not chick peas. You see my problem.
I don’t know what inspired me to try this combo of lentils and sweet potato. Oh, now I remember! Leftovers. How often leftovers inspire us to brilliance!!!
So, I threw these together and then posted the results on Instagram, asking for suggestions as to whether to call them Falentil or Lentilafel. The winner was virtually unapposed. So, here, without further discussion, easy, truly delicious, vegan, gluten free, versatile, and healthy: Falentil.
These are naturally vegan. If you use gluten free panko, they are GF, too!
Makes 9 falentils, serves 4 as a main course. Or whatever…
1 cup lentils
1 sweet potato
1 celery rib, minced
1 scallion or 2 fat, wild chives, sliced thinly
1 large jerusalem artichoke, diced (optional)
3 tbs olive oil
1/3 cup panko, regular or gluten free
1/4 cup salted toasted almonds
cumin, to taste
cayenne, to taste
salt and pepper
If you have time, brining lentils improves their flavor and texture. Cook them in simmering water until they are tender. 5-7 minutes if they’re brined, 15-20 if not. Drain very well.
Cook the sweet potato in the microwave for 6 minutes or conventional oven for 50-60 minutes, until very soft.
Sauté the scallion or chive, celery, and jerusalem artichoke, if using, in 1 tbs. of the the oil for 5 minutes or so, until the vegetables soften.
Place the almonds in the bowl of a food processor and buzz until finely ground; stop before you make almond butter. Add the remaining ingredients and process until everything comes together in a mass and is uniformly pulverized. It’s ok if you have some texture, but you don’t want whole lentils or big chunks of veggies. You’ll want to stop and scrape the bowl a few times. Taste for and adjust seasoning.
Scrape this lovely paste into a big bowl, cover, and refrigerate for at least an hour and up to a day. Form into 9 patties, roughly 2 inches across and ¾ inch thick.
Preheat the oven to 350°. Heat the remaining 2 tbs. oil in a heavy, large, nonstick skillet. Cook the falentils over med-high heat until browned, about 5 minutes; flip and brown on second side. Slide the pan into the oven for 15 minutes until the patties are heated through. Serve immediately, or refrigerate and reheat in conventional or microwave oven; they reheat beautifully!
There are so many ways to serve these! They’re great with traditional felafel accompaniments like hummus, or my variation, Hummole; tomatoes, olive oil, lemon, lettuce, pita…Or you could treat them like any other burger, top with mayo, ketchup, mustard, tomato, onion…Zucchini Fries are a natural go-with.
Try them with my Tzatziki, Sriracha Lime Sauce, Peanut Sauce, or Tahini Sauce with Herbs. I made Bob a wrap for travel with a couple of patties, arugula, cilantro, and Tahini Sauce with Herbs (see picture). While he was away, my supper was sautéed asparagus, tomatoes, tahini-apricot ketchup, fresh herbs and flowers, and a couple of Falentils. Yum!