Baked Sweet Potato Falafel

Friends, it's spring break.  And Chicago says: WOOHOOOO SPRING BREAK TAKE YOUR HOODS AND SCARVES OFF YEAHHHH!!!!  Because can I tell you something gross?  It snowed here last night.  What even.

Also, I can't take credit for the anthropomorphism of Chicago -- my roommate Alexander gets all the snaps for that one.  It's just so fitting that I had to use it.  We've been bro-ing around the apartment this weekend, watching Netflix and eating and pretending that we don't have papers we should be writing (for my fourth year roommates, their BA deadlines are approaching, and I have grant proposals to be working on -- oh well).  And I've been on a cooking spree of epic proportions.  Last night's gem was an awesome apple cake from Luisa of The Wednesday Chef, which was completely devoured before I could even take pictures.  I also made a traditional Italian orange-scented, yeast-based cake called Schiacciata alla Fiorentina yesterday that you'll see a post for soon.  Homemade ricotta cheese and pasta will be turned into lemon herb agnolotti from Kelsey of Happy Yolks tonight for dinner (I'm terribly excited to see how this turns out, it's involved a lot of labor), and I plan to make the super delicious sesame bread I made last spring break again.  And, of course, the star of this post, sweet potato falafel were made and devoured for lunch today.  

Like I said, a cooking spree.  And not soon enough.  I've been so neglectful of my need for cooking this past week, with studying for finals and writing grant applications and generally soaking in the depression that seeps out of all the campus libraries during this week of every quarter.  I came home on Friday after all of my responsibilities were done for the week, and cleansed myself by cleaning all 3 of our apartment's bathrooms with an alarming amount of bleach (but damn, those showers are sparkling now, let me tell you).  These are small victories that snap me out of the too-lazy-to-function zone I can fall into when finals week hits, and remind me that cooking is something integral to my being a well-functioning human.

Baked Sweet Potato Falafel (for 4 people)

2 medium sweet potatoes, cooked, cooled, and peeled (I roasted mine at 425 degrees F for an hour or so until soft)
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 small cloves of garlic, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 big handfuls of fresh cilantro, chopped
Juice of half a lemon
Scant cup (120g) chickpea flour
Splash of olive oil
Salt and pepper

To be served with:

4 pitas, warmed
2-4 avocados, sliced length-wise
2-3 carrots, peeled
2 handfuls parsley leaves, whole
Juice of half a lemon
Splash of olive oil
2 tablespoons tahini
Couple dashes hot sauce 
Salt and pepper

In a medium bowl, mash the cooked sweet potatoes with cumin, garlic, coriander, fresh cilantro, and lemon juice.  Season with salt and pepper to taste, then add the chickpea flour and mix until completely incorporated.  Let the mixture chill in the fridge for at least an hour.  If the mixture seems too wet (it should be sticky and hold its shape when you mold it), add a little more flour.  The sweet potatoes vary in how much water they contain, and yours may not be the same size as mine were, so use your judgment.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.  Drizzle a baking sheet with olive oil, then roll heaping tablespoons of the mixture into balls and place on the pan.  The original recipe said it would make 18 falafel, but I ended up with 28 pretty good-sized ones, so it's really up to you what size you make them.  Bake in the middle of the oven for 15-25 minutes, until the falafel are firm and the bottoms are golden brown.

Meanwhile, prep the sides.  Warm the pitas in the oven during the last couple minutes of cooking.  In a medium bowl, use a vegetable peeler to create thin ribbons of carrot.  Toss the carrot ribbons with parsley (I left the leaves whole, just pull them off the stems), a squeeze of lemon juice (around a quarter of the lemon), a drizzle of olive oil, and salt and pepper.  Slice the avocado and set aside.  In another bowl, whisk together the tahini, the remaining lemon juice, salt and pepper, and enough water to create a sauce.  

When the falafel are done, cut the pitas in half and stuff them with the carrot-parsley salad, avocado, and a couple falafel, then top with the tahini sauce.  

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