Falafels with spicy tomato & cashew sauce & poached spring vegetables

A vegan and gluten-free chickpea feast with a delicious dipping sauce and poached asparagus, carrots, radishes and broad beans

  • Prep:1 hrs
    Cook:30 mins
    plus 8 hrs soaking
  • Serves 4
  • Easy

Nutrition per serving

  • kcal 526
  • fat 28g
  • saturates 4g
  • carbs 39g
  • sugars 12g
  • fibre 17g
  • protein 22g
  • salt 1.9g


  • 200g dry chickpeas
  • 25g parsley, leaves picked, stems reserved for the broth
  • 2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 1 banana shallot, roughly chopped
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1½ tsp ground coriander
  • 1½ tsp turmeric
  • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
  • ½ tsp gluten-free baking powder
  • sunflower or rapeseed oil, for frying
  • splash white wine (vegan if necessary, optional)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 banana shallot, roughly chopped
  • 1 celery heart or 2 stalks, cut into chunks
  • pinch of whole peppercorn
  • 200g baby carrots, trimmed (if the green parts are intact, leave a short stem)
  • 1 bulb fennel, trimmed and cut into slim wedges
  • 20 asparagus tips (about 200g)
  • 12 pink radishes (about 100g), halved
  • 100g fresh or frozen broad beans, podded and skinned
  • 100g tub pomegranate seeds
  • 25g cashews
  • 1 tbsp sesame seed
  • 1 tsp cumin seed
  • ½ tsp chilli flakes, or to taste
  • 1 tbsp cold-pressed rapeseed or sunflower oil
  • 300g tomatoes, cut into chunks
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 tbsp agave syrup or dark brown sugar


  1. Prepare the chickpeas. Put them in a large bowl and cover with at least 3 times their volume of cold water. Cover and soak for at least 8 hrs, or overnight.

  2. To make the falafel mixture, drain the chickpeas then put them in a food processor with some seasoning. (Don’t worry if the chickpeas still feel quite firm at this stage – this is how they should be. Add the parsley leaves to the food processor along with the rest of the falafel ingredients. Whizz on high speed, adding 2-3 tbsp water, until a smooth but fairly solid mixture forms. Scrape into a bowl and cover.

  3. Put all the ingredients for the poaching broth, plus 1 tsp salt, 800ml water, and the reserved parsley stems, in a medium saucepan and bring to the boil. Simmer for 20 mins and set aside.

  4. Meanwhile, make the sauce. Put the cashews, sesame seeds, cumin and chilli flakes in a dry frying pan over a medium heat. Toast, stirring frequently, until the sesame seeds start to turn golden. Remove to a plate to cool. Add the oil to the pan and return to the heat, adding the tomatoes and garlic. Cook over a medium heat until the tomatoes collapse, about 5 mins. Allow to cool for a few mins, then transfer to a blender along with the toasted nuts and spices, the agave or sugar, and a generous pinch of salt. Whizz on high speed until smooth. Leave in the blender and set aside.

  5. Meanwhile, make the falafel balls. Use wet hands to form balls the size of large cherries and place on a tray – you should have enough to make 20-24 balls. The balls can be made a day ahead and chilled.

  6. About 15 mins before serving, strain the poaching liquid, then return the liquid to the pan, and bring to a simmer. Heat a 5cm depth of frying oil in a large, heavy-based pan over a medium heat. When the oil is hot enough, a small piece of bread dropped in it should turn brown in 20-30 secs. Carefully lower the falafel balls into the oil, cooking in batches of 6 at a time. Fry until deep golden brown all over, about 3 mins. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper, and keep warm in the oven while you cook the remaining batches. Safely set aside the oil.

  7. Finally, poach the vegetables. Add the carrots to the poaching liquid and cook for 3-5 mins depending on the size, then add the remaining veg. Return to the boil and simmer for 3 more mins. Strain the vegetables, discarding the liquid.

  8. To serve, first whizz the sauce once more (it has a tendency to separate). Place spoonfuls of sauce on each warmed plate (one spoonful for each falafel looks nice). Divide the falafel and spring veg between the plates, scatter with pomegranate seeds and serve immediately.

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