Trying to sneak vegetables into children can be as easy as blowing up a burst beach ball. On the one hand, I have a vegetarian son who actually volunteers to eat vegetables.
On the other hand, I have a youngling who is rather partial to very beige food and chronic constipation. During the past few months, my culinary furtiveness has been tweaked and finessed to a level that would even impress Houdini.
This week's falafel could almost pass as beige. There are three veggies snuggled inside, hidden by the alluring smack of cumin and lemon. Pumpkin and chickpeas are fibre heavyweight champions, so consider these falafel as love grenades for your personal waste unit. Rather than freak you out any further, I'll assume you get my feels.
Over to you! l
Makes 8-16 falafel
You will need:
3 teaspoons ground cumin
500g chopped pumpkin, roasted or steamed and skin removed
1 spring onion, finely sliced
4 cloves garlic, crushed
125g chickpea flour
Juice and zest of ½ lemon
Sesame seeds, to top
1 Crank up your oven to 200C, 390F, Gas 6. Line two trays with baking parchment.
2 Add the ground cumin, the chopped cooked pumpkin, the finely sliced spring onion, the crushed garlic, the chickpea flour, the lemon juice and the lemon zest to a bowl. Using a fork, mash all the ingredients together to make a stiff falafel dough. You're aiming for the falafel to be one-quarter chickpea flour. It's really that simple, so use whatever amount of mashed pumpkin you have and adjust the recipe as appropriate. And if you can't find edible pumpkins (stay away from those decorative Halloween ones) sweet potato will work a treat as a replacement.
3 Put the falafel mix in the freezer for 15 minutes to firm up. Alternatively, pop the mix in the fridge until supper time tomorrow.
4 Mould the firmed-up dough into falafels and place them on the prepared baking trays. I find an ice-cream scoop is the best way to shape falafel - this way, you'll probably get eight large falafel. However, if you use teaspoons and patience, you'll double the portions to about 16 small falafel, and halve the baking time.
5 Sprinkle the falafel with sesame seeds, and bake them in the preheated oven for 20 minutes or longer, depending on the size of the falafel. I serve them with natural yoghurt on the side, some hot chilli sauce - ketchup for the kids - and rice.