Now I do understand that this looks a little strange, intriguing perhaps, some might even say a Dog’s Breakfast…! But I promise you, if you like falafel, you will really enjoy this. Over the summer months I buy or make falafel mix and then form it into little balls/discs and include them in salads, wraps or pitas. I even love falafel patties, but vegetarian burgers aren’t too popular in my house.
Wikipedia describes falafel mixture as traditionally Middle Eastern and is made from ground chickpeas, fava beans or both. You may be wondering why or how I ended up with this mish-mash in a pyrex dish, but as luck would have it, at the time I realised I needed to use up the falafel mix and had neither salad nor wraps/pitas in the pantry. You know that time of the week or month, depending on how often you do your grocery shopping, when you have a few mismatched ingredients and have to get creative to produce something edible.
So an excursion onto Google produced some unexpected surprises and the one that tempted me the most was Baked Falafel Parmesan by Sarcastic Cooking (www.sarcasticcooking.com)…and so that’s what this is. In this instance she made her falafel mix from scratch, but lucky for me, I had it ready made in the fridge. What she had that I didn’t have was ready-made Marinara sauce, but then I don’t keep ready-made sauces and normally make them from scratch. Again, lucky for me, I had those ingredients on hand.
Marinara sauce is said to have originated in Naples, Italy, but there are numerous variations including various veggies, herbs and spices. Each apparently hales from a different region in Italy. I tend to stick with a very basic one and let the meat, or in this case, falafel, lead the flavour line-up.
Inexpensive and meat-free.
300 / 500 g falafel mix (depends on how many you’re feeding)
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 medium onion, chopped finely
1 – 2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 – 2 tins crushed tomatoes
salt and freshly ground black pepper
a handful fresh basil leaves or 1 Tbsp dried basil
½ or ¾ cup grated fresh Parmesan Cheese
- Preheat the oven to 200°C.
- Form the falafel mix into flat patties, approximately 6 cm across and place into a greased casserole dish. Bake for 15 minutes until golden.
- Remove from the oven and set aside until the Marinara sauce is ready.
- While the falafel is in the oven, prepare the sauce by lightly frying the chopped onion in the Olive Oil until translucent and soft.
- Add the garlic (and dried herbs if using) and fry for a couple of minutes.
- Pour in the crushed tomatoes and season with the salt and pepper.
- Add half the fresh basil leaves (unless you’ve already added the dry herbs) and stir through.
- Bring to the boil then turn the heat down and simmer for about 20 minutes. The longer you simmer it for, the more the flavour develops, so it pays to make larger batches of this sauce when you have the time to let it cook gently over a low heat for a few hours. Then either bottle or freeze it into portions.
- Pour the Marinara sauce over the cooked falafel patties in the baking dish and cover generously with the grated Parmesan cheese. Bake for another 3 – 5 minutes until the cheese melts. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with the rest of the fresh basil leaves. Serve as is or over prepared couscous or rice.