Braised vegetables with falafel and yogurt sauce

Braised vegetables with falafel and yogurt sauce

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1hr30min


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About this recipe: As a change from rice, pasta or couscous, try little falafel with a simple vegetable casserole. Made with canned chickpeas and baked rather than deep-fried, these falafel are quick and easy to prepare.

Norma MacMillan

Ingredients
Serves: 4 

  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 500 g (1 lb 2 oz) onions, sliced
  • 2 large yellow, red or orange peppers, seeded and sliced
  • 250 g (8½ oz) courgettes
  • 300 ml (10 fl oz) vegetable stock, preferably home-made light or rich
  • 340 g (12 oz) cherry tomatoes, halved
  • salt and pepper
  • fresh mint sprigs to garnish
  • Falafel
  • 2 cans chickpeas, about 400 g each, drained and rinsed
  • 8 spring onions, chopped
  • 6 tbsp chopped parsley
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander
  • 2 tbsp ground coriander
  • Yogurt sauce
  • ½ cucumber, grated
  • 85 g (3 oz) watercress leaves, finely shredded
  • 85 g (3 oz) rocket, finely shredded
  • 3 tbsp chopped fresh mint
  • grated zest of 1 lime
  • 200 g (7 oz) plain low-fat yogurt

Method
Prep:30min  ›  Cook:1hr  ›  Ready in:1hr30min 

  1. Brush a shallow baking dish or tin with a little oil. Put the chickpeas in a bowl and use a potato masher to mash them, then mix in the spring onions, parsley, fresh and ground coriander, and seasoning to taste. Alternatively, mix the ingredients in a food processor. With your hands, shape the mixture into 24 balls slightly larger than walnuts, placing them in the greased dish or tin. Set aside.
  2. Preheat the oven to 200ºC (400ºF, gas mark 6). Heat the oil in a flameproof casserole. Add the garlic, onions and peppers. Stir well, then cover and cook gently, stirring frequently, for 15 minutes or until the vegetables are soft but not browned.
  3. Stir in the courgettes and stock. Bring to the boil, then cover the casserole and transfer it to the oven. Place the falafel in the oven at the same time. Cook for 20 minutes.
  4. Add the tomatoes to the casserole and stir. Cover and return it to the oven. Use a spoon and fork to turn the falafel, taking care not to break them. Cook the casserole and falafel for a further 20 minutes or until the vegetables are tender and the falafel are crisp and lightly browned.
  5. Meanwhile, to make the yogurt sauce, squeeze the cucumber in handfuls to remove excess moisture. Put it into a bowl. Stir in the watercress, rocket, mint, lime zest and yogurt. Add seasoning to taste and transfer to a serving dish. Cover and chill until ready to serve.
  6. Transfer the falafel to a serving dish. Taste the casserole for seasoning, garnish with mint sprigs and serve with the falafel and yogurt sauce.

Some more ideas

The vegetable casserole and falafel are both good cold as well as hot. Stir a little chopped fresh mint and parsley into the casserole just before serving. * To turn the casserole into a ratatouille, use 250 g (8½ oz) onions and add 1 diced aubergine with the courgettes. Replace the cherry tomatoes with 500 g (1 lb 2 oz) skinned and quartered plum tomatoes. * Garlic lovers will enjoy additional garlic in the falafel – add 2 crushed garlic cloves and the grated zest of 1 lemon for a punchy flavour. * Basil is splendid in the yogurt sauce – shred a handful of fresh leaves and add them with or instead of the rocket.

Plus points

Chickpeas are a good source of dietary fibre, particularly the soluble fibre that can help reduce high blood cholesterol levels. * Watercress has been considered something of a superfood for many centuries. Hippocrates wrote about its medicinal values in 460 BC and built the world's first hospital next to a stream so he could grow fresh watercress. Watercress provides good amounts of several antioxidants, including vitamins C and E, and carotenoid compounds. It also contributes substantial amounts of folate, niacin and vitamin B6.

Each serving provides

A, B6, C, E, iron * folate, calcium, phosphorus, zinc * B1, niacin, potassium

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