spinach falafel with vegan tzatziki (vegan, paleo, grain-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, soy-free)

I’m so sad that long, lazy summer days have passed, yet I’m inexplicably happy to be back to normal life.

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I miss days of kitchen experiments and hours of recipe developing, photographing, and testing (I think we can all infer what the latter entails..), but I’m enjoying learning new things, meeting new people, and experiencing new experiences. Granted, I’m not thrilled about the mounds of homework nor the sentence ‘welcome to high school, this is where your grades start counting!’, but hearing colloquialisms being thrown around in the hallways and the world being back to ‘normal’ is definitely something I take for granted far too much.

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This past week was my first week back at school for over 18 months. For the first time, I felt well enough to go to school, to enjoy it, and I cannot express how happy that makes me. I used to take the simple act of being able to go to school for granted; I know that there are so many of the 7 billion people in the world who don’t have the privilege of education, and it hit me this week that I am so lucky to be one of the ones who do. I am so lucky to attend a top international school, to have lived all over the world, to have food on my plate at every meal. I am so lucky.

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Satisfyingly course, this falafel recipe was the result of many a crumbly, gummy, and simply horrible falafel failures.  A crispy, crunchy outside encases a vibrantly spiced filling of earthy chickpeas, fresh baby spinach, and a streak of the Middle East. Eaten hot with a drizzle of tzatziki lying on a bed of hummus, it’s probably one of the best falafels I have ever eaten. Creamy, cooling and garlicky, the tzatziki brings me back to making it alongside a short Qatari man, laughter lines engraved in the nooks and crannies of his face, telling me to ‘squish! squish!’ the cucumber. These are my favourite types of recipes – ones that aren’t just great, but better than the originals.

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Don’t forget to serve with a healthy dose of ‘call the doctor, I falafel!’

I had to.

spinach falafel with vegan tzatziki

by Alessandra Peters

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Ingredients (serves 4)

    For the Falafel

    • 4 cups baby spinach, washed
    • 1 can chickpeas, rinsed
    • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
    • 2 tbsp tahini
    • 2 tbsp lemon juice
    • 1 tsp cumin
    • 1/2 tsp sea salt
    • 2 tbsp potato starch
    • 5 tablespoons olive oil, for cooking

    For the Tzatziki

    • 1 can full-fat coconut milk, chilled for at least 24 hours
    • 3 tbs lemon juice
    • half an English cucumber, diced
    • a handful each of dill and parsley

    Instructions

    For the Falafel

    1. In a food processor, combine spinach, chickpeas, garlic, tahini, lemon juice, cumin, and salt & pepper until well combined.

    2. Add in the potato starch, then blitz again until well combined.

    3. Using a small ice cream scoop, scoop out balls of the mixture on to a baking tray and put in the fridge for ten minutes.

    4. Pour the olive oil in to a large frying pan and set the heat to medium. Let it heat up, and when the ten minutes have passed, gently flatten the falafel balls with your hand before sliding them in to the hot oil. Watch out!

    5. Cook, four at a time, until golden brown, 1-2 minutes. Flip and cook for another minute or so or until golden.

    6. Serve hot with tzatziki and hummus if desired! Enjoy!

    For the Tzatziki

    1. Take the can out of the fridge, open it using a can opener, and scoop out the solid white cream from the top. Set aside the clear coconut water to use later (I love mine in smoothies!).

    2. In a bowl, combine the coconut cream, lemon juice, and a good pinch each of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

    3. In a separate bowl, squash the cucumber with your hands. Keep squashing it until it has released liquid, about 20 seconds, and is quite mushy.

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    lemon sesame kale chips with coconut milk sour cream (vegan, paleo, grain-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, refined sugar-free)

    Hi, I’m Alessandra and I’m addicted to lemon sesame kale chips.

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    Particularly these golden crispy, nutty, satisfyingly crunchy nuggets of pure and utter flavour with the zesty whiff of sparky, spunky citrus dipped in a creamy, thick, rich, tart dip. Seriously, these are good. When I was growing up, lemons were always the only constant in our bustling fridge; in the humid, warm climate of the Middle East, lemons were abundant and their bright, cheery hues could be seen on every street corner.

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    I remember chomping on handfuls of ‘bird seeds’ at a time, convinced that the pale, nutty seeds would send me flying in to the air squealing with joy at any moment. It may be a decade later, a few countries further, and I certainly don’t refer to sesame seeds as ‘bird seeds’ any more, but that’s not to say I didn’t find myself concealing a joyful squeal when I tasted them with the deep, earthy flavour of kale.

    Screen Shot 2013-08-04 at 19.03.44And, dear reader, the coconut milk sour cream – oh my. Sweet and creamy from the gloriously thick coconut cream hidden in the depths of a chilled coconut can, and tantalisingly tangy from the fragrant, acidic lemon juice. It fits so perfectly with the lemon & sesame kale chips, but I can only imagine what else this would be perfect addition to. Sour cream is one of those intriguing magical ingredients which can completely change a meal but which tastes quite, well, abhorrent on its own. Vanilla extract, anyone? The tangy taste seems to intensify every other flavour in a dish without stealing the limelight; certainly an underrated fridge necessity. Drizzled, dipped, or eaten by the spoon, you need it in your life.

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    It is an axiom of making kale chips that you are allowed to eat at least half the batch in the process, right? Right. Enjoy!

    lemon sesame kale chips with coconut milk sour cream (SCD, GAPS, candida diet, Palaeolithic, Primal)

    by Alessandra Peters

    Prep Time: 15 minutes

    Cook Time: 25 minutes

    Ingredients (serves 4)

      For the Kale Chips

      • 200g curly kale, washed, dried, and cut into bite-sized pieces
      • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
      • 4 tablespoons sesame seeds
      • zest of 1 lemon
      • juice of 1/2 lemon
      • sea salt, to taste

      For the Coconut Milk Sour Cream

      • 1 can coconut milk, refrigerated for at least 12 hours
      • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
      • sea salt, to taste

      Instructions

      For the Kale Chips

      1. Preheat the oven to 120C/240F.

      2. Place the kale into a large bowl and toss it thoroughly with the olive oil, sesame seeds, lemon juice, and a good pinch of sea salt.

      3. Spread the kale on a large baking sheet. It shrinks as it cooks, so it’s okay to not have it in a single layer.

      4. Zest the lemon over the tray of kale.

      5. Bake for 20-25 minutes, tossing halfway through, until crispy.

      For the Coconut Milk Sour Cream

      1. Turn your cold can of coconut milk over and, using a can opener, open the tin from the bottom. Set aside the coconut water to use another time (it’s great in smoothies!), then scoop out the white coconut cream at the bottom of the can.

      2. Add the lemon juice to the coconut cream and stir to combine. Add salt to taste, then leave in the fridge for 15-20 minutes in order for the flavours to meld.

      To serve: Put the kale chips on a large plate and serve with fresh lemon wedges and coconut milk sour cream. Enjoy!

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      asparagus with sun-dried tomatoes and smoked garlic (gluten-free, grain-free, vegan, paleo)

      The deliciousness of this dish is simply insurmountable. It’s astounding to me that a recipe so simple and quick to make could end up with so many complex flavours and dimensions. Slightly crisp asparagus imbued with deliciously tangy sun-dried tomatoes and the deep intensity of smoked French garlic really does create an amazing plate of food.

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      It’s not just the flavours that work together brilliantly; I love the bright colours as well. The contrast between the mysterious green and the slightly muted fiery red of the tomatoes paints a gorgeous picture.

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      To me, asparagus is one of the most under-rated vegetables out there. It has quite a basic flavour, but it really pops when paired with strong flavours which would probably be overwhelming on their own. It acts as a canvas for the fiery flavours of sun-dried tomato and smoked garlic –  a great one at that.

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      Did I mention that there are only four ingredients and it’ll be ready in about fifteen minutes?

      Asparagus with sun-dried tomatoes and smoked garlic

      by Alessandra Peters

      Ingredients (serves 4)

      • 300g asparagus
      • 5 tablespoons sun-dried tomatoes
      • 2 cloves smoked French garlic (normal garlic would work, too)
      • 300ml vegetable stock

      Instructions

      1. Trim the asparagus and chop the tomatoes.

      2. Heat a large frying pan over medium heat. Add a teaspoon of oil and heat it up. Saute the garlic in the oil until fragrant, then add the trimmed asparagus and chopped sun-dried tomatoes, then cover everything with the vegetable stock.

      3. Simmer for 10 minutes or until the asparagus is just a tiny bit crisp.

      4. Serve and enjoy!

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