Vegan Pub Fare: Falafel Balls & Baked Fries

One of the things I’m always trying to do is find ways to take the greasy foods I love and make them a little bit healthier and more calorie friendly. Thanks to my trusty air fryer, that’s now a possibility. But there are some days when you want to just pop some stuff into the oven and call it a day.

Right?

When it comes to falafel, you usually end up with a lot of oil for frying so this was a challenge. Let’s see if you like what I’ve come up with!

This is a relatively easy dish to make and even more so if you don’t have to stand in front of the stove, turning the vegan falafel balls so each side gets nice and crispy. If you have your own vegan falafel mix recipe, feel free to use it, or just grab these ingredients from the pantry:

Garbanzo beans
Onion (grated)
Parsley (optional)
Nutritional yeast
Soy sauce
Garlic
Flour (whole wheat or chickpea)
Water (only if the mix is too thick)

I prefer to pulse the chickpeas alone in the food processor first so they break down and get crumbly but you can always do everything all at once if you’re a lazy vegan. Season with salt, pepper and smoky paprika, or whatever else you feel like using and form into balls.

You might need to let it rest in the fridge for about 10 minutes and if you have time, I suggest you do that…maybe while the oven preheats (or the oil heats up if you decide to deep fry).

Form the falafel mix into balls and lay on a lightly greased parchment paper, cook for about 20 minutes or until the vegan balls start to crisp up. If you find that it’s taking too long, turn on the top heat and crank up the heat for an extra 5 minutes.

The good thing about this recipe is that you can bake the falafel and fries at the same time!

For the potatoes, just cut into the desired shape/width/length and season. We went for a spicy cajun-masala blend because of the creamy lemon & dill veggiegurt dipping sauce (which I forgot to photograph) so they came out a little on the spicy side.

Bake for about 30 minutes or until crispy and you’ve got easy vegan pub food in 30 minutes or less!

I haven’t had falafels in a long time and this was a good, pita-free, way to enjoy them without sacrificing my love of potatoes!

If you decide to try these vegan falafel balls, please share the recipe with me!

Jerk Spiced Cauliflower Steaks & Bulgur ~ Easy Vegan Dinners

Since discovering Midnight Tokyo Diner on Netflix, we don’t often do a lot of meal planning per se, we just grab what is fresh and what looks delicious, plus a good helping of pantry staples and favorites. It has been working for us, especially during the lockdown, so there’s no point in changing anything. Right?

So of course when I set eyes on a beautiful head of cauliflower, I knew what I wanted to do with it…and I just had to do some Jedi mind trick to get the Hubs to request cauliflower steaks. Turns out, great minds think a lot and I got to keep my Jedi tricks for another day. His request was simple: cauliflower steaks, seasoned for any style of cuisine I chose.

Gotta love a man who knows you!

The cauliflower steaks will take the longest to cook so I recommend that you season it first and set aside to let the flavors marinate. If you want to be a lazy vegan, may I suggest a good Jerk seasoning spice pack. It’ll make sure you have all the right ingredients to make it authentic without having to worry about it. But if you want to use individual ingredients, here you go: cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, ginger, scallion, scotch bonnet peppers, garlic and thyme.

I used vegan yogurt instead of oil to marinate the cauliflower, letting it get good and flavorful while I prepped the vegetables and grains.

When you’re ready, cook the cauliflower steaks on 180ºC for 30 minutes, adding more time if it’s not cooked all the way through.

The hardest part is out of the way…yay!

For the veggies you can keep it simple. Onion, bell peppers, garlic, ginger and chickpeas. I used a splash of oil (about 5 grams) for the veggies and chickpeas, otherwise I didn’t want to muddy up the flavor profile.

Finish it off with a grain of your choice, I chose bulgur because it has surpassed rice as my favorite short grain in recent years. And that’s it. Pretty easy, right?

Now all that’s left is to plate everything up!

You might notice the eggplant on the left and you’re probably wondering, doesn’t she dislike eggplant…a lot? Yes, I do. A lot.

But this wasn’t my plate, ti was the Hubs and he LOVES it, so I scored it and added the rest of the veggiegurt-jerk seasoning and popped it in the oven. It was a tad overcooked so I suggest adding it during the last 15 minutes of cooking because–DUH–cauliflower and eggplant doesn’t have the same cook time.

Next time you think there’s nothing to be done with cauliflower, think again. This is a quick and easy vegan dinner that you can cook again and again, switching up the seasoning and the grains to go from Jerk spice to Mexican, Indian, French or whatever else floats your boat.

This vegan meal was delicious, it was healthy and well-balanced.

Enjoy!

Plant Based Chickpea Salad Sammie

I’ve made no secret out of the fact that going vegan wasn’t a huge challenge for me, beyond re-learning to pay attention to the ingredients in the products I buy and trying to be a better, more conscious consumer. But there was one area that proved problematic for me from the outset.

Lunch.

This is how I used to think vegan lunch looked…

I work from home as a writer which means I can’t (or don’t) always set aside actual time for lunch. I like to be able to grab something quick and easy that I can eat while I work if possible, and yes I do know all about how bad that is for weight loss, but it is what it is. I tried vegan lunch meat, mostly soy based because it is the most pervasive in Germany which is where I lived at the time, and it was horrible. I couldn’t find any that I liked and that probably had to do with the fact that I wasn’t a fan of animal-based lunch meat even before going vegan. So of course there would be problems with that. Duh.

But I stayed on this track for a few months and there were a few products made from seitan or lupine that I found pretty tasty but they required special trips to out of the way stores so it became more of an indulgence once in a while and salads became my go to lunch meal. Add lentils or beans and you can make a quick and easy lunch.

And boring after a while.

Then I remembered my old friend, tuna. Whip up some tuna salad and pop it in the fridge and I could nosh on sammies every day for lunch. That’s when I had my light bulb moment. You can turn just about anything into a tuna salad sandwich with a bit of creativity.

 This is a REALLY easy recipe and if you make a bigger batch you can get away with not cooking for a few days!

All you need is:

Chickpeas (smashed a bit)
Scallions
Purple cabbage (or is it red?)
Red & green bell pepper
Garlic
Ginger
Cayenne pepper
Salt & pepper

 

Now all that’s left is the creamy sauce that makes this perfect between the right kind of bread. It’s no secret that me and mayo are not friends and we never have been so I used vegan yogurt instead, but feel free to use what you like. Toss in some mustard, fresh dill, along with cumin and any other herbs & spices you prefer and voila, you’ve got a chickpea salad sandwich…almost.

Mix it up well and if you need to loosen the sauce (which you might if you use vegan mayo) add a splash of apple cider vinegar or lemon juice, it’s also a nice splash of acid with all the creamy goodness.

Stack it and you’re good to go!

Sometimes though I’ll add lettuce & tomato, spicy banana peppers, jalapenos, pickles, olives, artichokes or any other sandwich fixing I’m jonesing for at the moment. The point is you can add plenty of other vegan options without sacrificing taste.

Add a handful of chips and be sure to check for the pernicious “milk powder” found in SO many potato chip brands for some reason and you’ve got an easy vegan lunch that’s satisfying and nutritious.

And if you’ve got company, add an icy beer to the and enjoy!