Raw, Vegan Cauliflower and Mesquite Falafel with Fresh Parsley Dressing

by Gena on October 11, 2011

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Nothing quite like pumpkin to get people excited. Thanks for the pumpkin pie pudding love!

As you all know, I got more adventurous with superfoods this summer. I made a superfood salad:

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A batch of crackers infused with a super seed blend:

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and a super breakfast bowl with quinoa flakes:

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Most of these dishes were truly thanks to my friends at Navitas Naturals, who graciously shared some of their products with me so that I could experiment a little in the kitchen. One of these products was their mesquite powder, which has quickly become one of my favorite go-to ingredients. Mesquite has a subtle flavor: it’s sweet, smoky, and a little spicy, all at once. Depending on the moment, it might remind me either of vanilla beans or a sizzling pot of barbeque sauce. Its flavor, much like the flavors of lucuma and maca (also superfoods from the Americas) is hard to place, hard to describe, and a little amorphous. Which makes it an ideal ingredient to play with: it will never overpower a dish the way certain spices do. Instead, it will enhance the flavors that I’m focused on in all sorts of fun and unexpected way.

Mesquite also boasts some nifty health properties:

  • Excellent form of fiber – almost a quarter of daily needs in just two tablespoons
  • Contains lysine (an amino acid), as well as notable quantities of digestible protein, calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron and zinc.
  • Mild alternative to other sweeteners

Thus far, I’ve used mesquite primarily in my smoothie recipes and a few sweets (mesquite cashew date balls, by the way, are amazing). Last week, I decided to give mesquite an unexpected application, in savory raw falafel. I wasn’t sure whether this was brilliant or bonkers, but the results made me really happy. It’s really hard for any raw falafel recipe to stand up to my carrot falafel, which I adore, but these come close. And, just like my carrot falafel, they make sneaky use of vegetables: cauliflower is mixed in with sunflower seeds to add nutrient density and help even out some of the fat content.

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Smoky Cauliflower and Mesquite Falafel with Fresh Parsley Dressing (raw, vegan, gluten free)

Makes 10 Falafel

1 cup raw sunflower seeds
1 1/2 cups cauliflower, chopped
1 tbsp tahini
1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp paprika
1/4 cup mesquite
Dash cayenne pepper

1) Grind sunflower seeds in a food processor fitted with the S blade.

2) When seeds are ground into a coarse meal, add chopped cauliflower, tahini, cumin, coriander, paprika, and mesquite. Pulse to combine, then run the motor. You should have a VERY thick paste. Add water in a thin stream until the mixture is still quite thick (thick enough to be shaped into firm balls) but not pasty. I used about 4 scant tbsp (1/4 cup).

3) Roll mixture into 2 inch balls and flatter onto a Teflex lined dehydrator tray with palms. Dehydrating for 12-14 hours, until exterior is very dry but interior is still slightly moist, flipping once through. Serve drizzled with my fresh parsley dressing or a tahini dressing of choice.

*Oven option: Bake falafel for 30-35 minutes at 350 degrees.*

Parsley Dressing:

1 small avocado
1/2 bunch parsley, washed
Juice of 2-3 lemons (2 large, or 3 tiny ones)
1/4 cup olive oil
1 cup water
1/2 tsp sea salt
Black pepper

1) Blend all ingredients in a high speed blender till smooth. Serve.

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I love the subtly smokiness of these falafel. And I think that the mesquite adds a nice creaminess to the texture, too!

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Aren’t they authentic looking?! Not bad for a raw dish.

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Hope you guys give these guys a shot. And it goes without saying that the parsley dressing is also great on salad, as a dip, or drizzled over a plate of steamed veggies. Let me know what you think!

Lastly, I wanted to thank everyone who has tried (and loved) the zucchini pasta with creamy garlic sauce and the gingery rice with butternut squash and onions. I’ve already gotten some lovely feedback on those recipes, and it makes me so, so happy to know that my readers like them. Here’s to fall produce!

Back tomorrow! And don’t forget that the 30 Day Vegan Challenge is on.

xo

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{ 36 comments… read them below or add one }

Ali October 11, 2011 at 2:08 pm

Wow! These look AWESOME! And I always love a good cauliflower sneak fest! That dressing really looks amazing too! You have become a true kitchen wizard in your school days my friend!!

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Jenn from Much to My Delight October 11, 2011 at 2:23 pm

Holy yum!! I have never heard of mesquite powder, but I am beyond intrigued. Your application of it sounds heavenly. I never met a falafel I didn’t adore, and yours sounds like one of the most unique versions I’ve ever come across. Love your blog and your gorgeous recipes!

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Gena October 12, 2011 at 6:50 am

Thanks Jenn! Made my day!

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Nada (One Arab Vegan) October 11, 2011 at 2:35 pm

It’s recipes like this that assure me asking for a dehydrator for my 21st birthday isn’t completely pathetic :)

In the mean time I’ll try to get my hands on some mesquite and try the oven-baked version – love falafel in all forms!

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Kaitlyn@TheTieDyeFiles October 11, 2011 at 2:49 pm

Lovely! I had falafel over the summer and have been craving it since. I really want to incorporate more raw foods into my diet and I’ve been doing a pretty terrible job thus far. Do you think I could find mesquite at Whole Foods?

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Gena October 12, 2011 at 6:50 am

I do! But if you can’t, just order online. Honestly, worth it.

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Teeny Perez October 11, 2011 at 2:51 pm

Wow! The zucchini and butternut squash was divine but this??!?! So excited to make this too! I am addicted to Falafel so I can’t wait to try this. Thanks for all the yummy fall food finds!

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Hoshigaki October 11, 2011 at 3:00 pm

Do you eat the raw version at room temperature or stick in the fridge for a bit first?
Just wondering on the hearty/savory raw items and temperature for serving. I’ve had some room temp. Cafe Gratitude concoctions I thought would be better a bit colder for some reason.
Maybe the room tempey-ness made the ingredients feel less fresh, over-handled…
I’m sure this wouldn’t be a problem for the home cook though!
Your creativity is impressive once again! <3

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Gena October 12, 2011 at 6:50 am

Hey Casey!

I’d eat it either way. I do tend to love cold food, and I am not sure why (maybe that’s common among rawbies). But it can also be nice to eat foods like these warm out of the dehydrator, or simply at room temp. However, I should have mentioned that it’s wise to store these guys in the fridge no matter what, since they don’t get dehydrated to a crisp, and the cauliflower is in there. They’ll keep nicely in the fridge, I’m sure, but wouldn’t want anyone risking it without refrigeration.

G

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Averie @ Love Veggies and Yoga October 11, 2011 at 3:10 pm

Wow, these are creative! I would have never thought that raw cauli could be incorporated so well with seeds and that it gets paste-like with the addition of the other seasonings/items. And you can do it in the oven in a half hour…score!

Great recipe, Gena.

Hope your week is off to a good start :)

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Hannah October 11, 2011 at 3:57 pm

I love, love, love falafel. One of my favorite foods, hands down. It’s amazing how much it can vary-I have a favorite place on the Cape but here at school there is some pretty awful versions of it! That avocado dressing sounds divine.

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Ela October 11, 2011 at 5:11 pm

Wonderful! Yum–perfect that you pair parsley with falafel. I love the cauliflower in there too: makes it more like samosa, and samosa and falafel really are close relatives. My grandmother makes both fairly similarly.

I love mesquite too–interestingly, when I first used it (when working as a raw chef), I tended to like the smell much more than the taste. But it’s grown on me. When I lived in Hawaii, the mesquite (aka kiawe) honey was just the very most wonderful–had a tiny bit of the same flavor under the whipped-sugar sweetness.
love
Ela

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Brittany October 11, 2011 at 5:21 pm

Thanks for this recipe. I’ve been looking for a way to use up some mesquite. I will definitely try these soon.

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Lauren October 11, 2011 at 6:22 pm

So making this! I love falafel and most raw recipes are so lengthy! Mm, can’t wait!

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Kristen October 11, 2011 at 8:30 pm

Love this recipe for falafels!! I can’t seem to find mesquite anywhere though..went to Whole Foods and a health food store and both didn’t have it. Can you substitute the mesquite for something else? Thanks!!

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Gena October 12, 2011 at 6:48 am

Well, you could order online (I usually do!). If not, I’d say that you won’t find anything to replicate it exactly, but you could try lucuma (if you can find that). Also, you could substitute nutritional yeast, which will change the flavor entirely, but still be amazing :)

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Kristen October 12, 2011 at 12:21 pm

Thanks Gena! I will definitely be purchasing it online as I know it will go to good use! Thanks for all the amazing recipes…Love them all!! :)

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Pure2raw twins October 11, 2011 at 9:23 pm

yay glad you liked mesquite! we just love it

falafel has been on our list to make for a long time, maybe it is time, thanks for the recipe!

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Hannah October 12, 2011 at 1:54 am

Well, I may not be able to get canned pumpin at all, but by golly I can spend the equivalent of a restaurant meal out on a bag of mesquite flour at my local organic health shop. It’ll be worth it :D

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Sara (The Veggie Eco-Life) October 12, 2011 at 4:48 am

I absolutely adore that when I first look at your photos, I think ‘wow, that must be a lot of work’. But when I look closer, I see that there aren’t a billion of ingredients and the recipe isn’t hard to follow or make. I want to make almost every recipe you post, even this one and I don’t like cauliflower!

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Gena October 12, 2011 at 6:44 am

Thanks Sara! I aim to cook simply.

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kate October 12, 2011 at 7:52 am

Yum. I have a caulilflower nestling in the fridge waiting to have its moment. I guess I’ll have to bite the bullet and try mesquite. Thanks for your inspiration. So impressed as always at the calibre of recipes when you are under so much school pressure.

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Ashley F. October 12, 2011 at 8:03 am

These look amazing! I’m a total cauliflower freak so anytime I can incorporate it into a dish I get excited. Definitely going to try these this weekend.

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McKella October 12, 2011 at 11:15 am

Perfect, I have a lonely jar of tahini sitting in my fridge until I find something delicious to do with it. Thanks!
Wait, I don’t have cauliflower…

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Anastasia October 12, 2011 at 12:23 pm

This looks divine! Can’t wait to try making the falafel. The top photo matches the heading of your blog perfectly, too. :)

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Magda October 12, 2011 at 1:23 pm

Love the idea of this recipe but I don’t think I like sunflower seeds at all. What do you think would be a good substitute? Almonds? Thanks!

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Mimi (Gingersnaps) October 12, 2011 at 1:25 pm

Is there anything cauliflower can’t do? That’s a really lovely recipe.

I actually had a superfoods question — what’s your opinion of maca powder? Does it taste good in anything? I’ve tasted it plain and I didn’t get the “smokey caramel notes” I’ve heard described on a few blogs.

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RH October 12, 2011 at 3:43 pm

What section of your Whole Foods did you find the mesquite in? I just went to mine and I think I was looking in all the wrong places.

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tweal October 12, 2011 at 6:13 pm

I love mesquite powder! It has such a unique flavour that complements so many dishes. I really enjoy adding it to smoothies and ice creams.

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Karen October 12, 2011 at 6:21 pm

Your creativity in the kitchen astounds me, Gena! These look sooo good! Now, my mission to locate some of that Navitas mesquite powder begins…

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Amber Shea @Almost Vegan October 12, 2011 at 8:37 pm

These sound AWESOME! I love the inclusion of cauliflower…and mesquite…ok, I love the whole thing.

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Melinda Claybaugh October 13, 2011 at 9:31 am

Can’t wait to try! Any suggestions for a tahini substitute? My son has a sesame allergy.

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To burn Calories October 13, 2011 at 10:46 am

God this looks so good. can’t wait to try it.

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celia November 2, 2011 at 6:39 pm

These looks so yummy! ugh, i really want to make some. thanks for sharing!

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Robyn November 8, 2011 at 10:55 pm

Ohhh yum,,,love flafel and now I just have to wait 12 hours or so for my fix! I love your recipes and pictures….I didn’t have quite a cup of sunflower seeds so topped up with pumpkin,,,can’t wait to try.

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Cadry February 12, 2012 at 6:33 pm

This looks phenomenal! Does the dressing keep well or is it something that has to be eaten right away? Since it has lemon juice in it, it may stop the avocado from oxidizing.

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