Saturday, 3 September 2016

Recipe: Fresh Pea & Mint Falafel

I’m a huge fan of peas and with their inherent sweetness find them hard to resist. They are relatively trouble-free to grow so I plant quite a large crop each year. I love the taste of freshly podded peas and will admit that many of them are eaten as they are being picked. The sugars in fresh peas quickly turn to starch after picking but luckily frozen peas work just as well in this recipe, so feel free to use whichever you like.
The accompanying dip, simply flavoured with harissa paste, contrasts wonderfully with the sweetness of the peas and its light pink colour looks fabulous against the intense green of the falafel.
Pea Falafel:
300g fresh peas, podded (or frozen peas)
1 tblsp vegetable oil
2 shallots, finely chopped
1 red chilli, finely chopped
1 tsp ground cumin
1 large handful of mint, finely chopped
1 tblsp sesame seeds
50g fresh breadcrumbs
1 large egg
Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
4-5 tblsp vegetable oil for shallow frying
Harissa Dip:
150g natural Greek-style yoghurt
1 tblsp harissa paste
Pea Falafel:
  1. Place fresh peas (if using) in a small saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil and allow to simmer for 1 minute, then remove from the heat and drain. If using frozen peas, place in a bowl and cover with boiling water and allow to defrost. Drain and set aside.
  2. Place the vegetable oil in a small frying pan over a moderate heat and gently cook the shallot for a couple of minutes until beginning to soften. Add the chilli and cumin and cook for a further minute.
  3. Place the shallot mixture and the peas into a food processor and pulse a few times to break the peas down and mix everything together. Add the chopped mint, sesame seeds, breadcrumbs, egg and pulse again to form a chunky paste. Do not purée the peas as you want them to retain a bit of texture.
  4. To fry the falafel, heat a couple of tablespoons of vegetable oil in a large frying pan over a moderate heat. Drop a tablespoons of the falafel mixture into the oil and fry for 3-4 minutes on each side until golden brown. Place onto a plate lined with kitchen roll to drain. Place in a warm oven so that they don't go cold. Fry the falafel in batches until all the mixture has been used up. Serve warm with some of the harissa dip.
Harissa Dip:
  1. Mix the yoghurt and harissa paste together and place in a bowl alongside the falafel.

Makes 16-18 falafel.