Falafel baked cauliflower {vegan, gluten-free}

A recipe I’m working on has me totally stumped. It’s a dessert. An adaptation of a childhood favourite that mum and I would make together. I’m going to give it one last shot before I throw in the towel. Because I know that most of the time, persistence pays off.

Speaking of persistence, this falafel baked cauliflower has been a work in progress for a while. I had such high hopes for it that I first made it for a dinner party I hosted. I wasn’t 100 per cent happy the dish was ‘there’ but someone even went in for seconds so there’s that.

I found it challenging removing the stalk while keeping the florets attached. After a few failed attempts, I decided to carve out the inner part of the stalk with a small paring knife. Success.

After that and a few small tweaks, I had the perfect dish. Cauliflower so soft it melts like butter in your mouth around falafel stuffing. And a crisp outer layer that’s like the shell of a giant falafel. This, dear reader, is a dish I dream about.

Kale-Mary-baked-falafel-cauliflower

Falafel baked cauliflower
Serves 4

1 cauliflower
180g dry chickpeas, soaked overnight, drained and washed
1/2 red onion
2 garlic cloves
1/2 cup flat leaf parsley
1/2 cup coriander
1 tbsp besan flour
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander powder
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 cup gluten-free bread or rice crumbs
Extra virgin olive oil, to coat cauliflower

Preheat oven to 220 degrees C and fill a large stock pot with water to boil.

Trim the leaves off the cauliflower. Turn it upside down then carve out the stalk. Be careful not to take too much off the sides of the stalk as you want to keep the florets attached and intact.

Blitz the soaked chickpeas with onion, garlic, herbs, spices, besan flour, and salt and pepper.

Once blended into a falafel texture, transfer mixture to a wide-based pan with a little olive oil. Cook about 5-8 minutes until garlic is fragrant and mixture starts to brown. Set aside to cool.

Add the whole cauliflower to the stock pot when the water has boiled. Let it cook for around 8 minutes until cooked through.

Spoon about half of the falafel mix into a separate bowl and add the bread or rice crumbs. Mix then add enough olive oil to combine and coat the crumbs.

Grease a baking dish and place the cauliflower into the dish stalk-side up. Using a spoon and your fingers, stuff the falafel mix into the hole where you carved the flesh out of the stalk. Then stuff around the florets as best you can without breaking them off.

Carefully turn the cauliflower floret-side up being careful to keep the stuffing from falling out. Rub olive oil over the florets, then coat the cauliflower with falafel and bread or rice crumb mix.

Once the cauliflower is coated with the falafel crust, cover with foil and place in the oven for 30 minutes. Remove foil and cook for another 15 minutes until crust browns and hardens.

Cut into quarters and serve with hummus or this cashew butter and salad.

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