Multicultural mashup: Falafel-crusted Potatoes with Red Sauce

by Terry B on May 2, 2012

Mashed potato patties are coated with the Middle Eastern staple falafel, baked and served with Italian red sauce. This delicious, versatile meal can be made vegetarian or even vegan with a couple of minor tweaks. Recipe below.

We frequently talk about what inspires our cooking here. Marion actually got the idea for this hearty meal from some finger food. I’ll turn the kitchen over to her to tell you about it.

Last year, at one food-related event we attended, the standout for me was a low-key, earthy vegan dish: Potatoes, cut into discs and coated with falafel. Alongside the dazzling array on the several buffet tables, this dish was almost the country cousin, quiet and shy in its simplicity. But when I remember that evening, this is the only dish I actually recall. There were a lot of other very wonderful things, sophisticated and clever and fun; I distinctly remember saying “Wow, this is great too!” several times, but this homely little presentation really fastened itself into my head. I don’t remember who made it, but I remember it.

Fast forward to last weekend, when thanks to absent-minded shopping, we suddenly had a surfeit of potatoes in the house. Yukon golds, purples, little red potatoes, waxy russets. We had ’em all, and now what? That was when I once again recalled this potato dish.

Rather than use sliced potatoes, I chose to take the next step and mash them because I wanted something a little more citified. In this version, the potatoes are simmered, then mashed, and then they are formed into little patties, dredged in falafel mix and baked until they turn lightly gold. In another experimental version, I mixed the falafel flour with water and coated the patties with that—a presentation with a thicker crust. But that did not work out so well in the oven; the outsides just kind of stayed beige—in the end, I pan fried those patties to give them the appropriate golden-brown look. They were good, but the version with the dredged coating that you see here was better, more delicate and tasty and less fatty.

For the tomato sauce, Terry’s photo shows a quickly put together homemade Italian sausage, mushroom and tomato sauce, but a vegetarian tomato sauce would be super and would, of course, make this a vegetarian recipe. And omitting dairy from the mashing process makes this a really good vegan dish. In the interest of time saving, go with a good-quality bottled sauce if you wish. In any case, I recommend aiming for chunkier style sauces.

Falafel-crusted Potatoes with Red Sauce
Serves 4

2 pounds of potatoes, peeled and sliced (Yukon gold, russet or a combination of the two)
olive oil
3 tablespoons plain Greek yogurt or buttermilk (optional)
1/2 cup falafel mix
a bowl of room-temperature water
red sauce of your choice
2 teaspoons basil, sliced very fine, per person

First, cook the potatoes in salted water to cover until they are just barely tender. Drain them, then return to pan. Mash them with 2 tablespoons olive oil, yogurt or buttermilk, and salt and pepper to taste. The potatoes should be smooth but pretty stiff. Cool them enough to handle (just a few minutes should do).

While potatoes are cooking, preheat oven to 375ºF. Pour the falafel mix onto a dinner plate. You may need a little more, depending on how wet your potatoes are. Divide the mashed potatoes into eight portions. Form each portion into a little round patty , about 3 inches across. Dip it into water, then dredge in the felafel mix.  Press the mix into the surface of the potatoes.  Set each patty into a 9×13-inch glass baking dish oiled with olive oil.

Put in oven on center rack; after about 30 minutes, they should be golden brown on top. Very gently turn them (the bottom will be even more golden) and return to the oven for about 15 more minutes, or until more uniformly golden brown.

Separately, heat the tomato sauce of your choice. When the patties are ready, dish the heated tomato sauce into a soup plate—about 1/2 cup per person—then set two patties on the sauce and scatter the fresh basil generously over all. (Terry’s photo shows one patty, I know, but that was just for looks—use two.)

If you have leftovers, they actually hold over pretty well to the next day.


{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Christina May 2, 2012 at 3:50 am

Tasty. You know what makes this sound so good to me? The contrast between the golden-crisp crust and the promise of an interior of mashed potatoes.

Marion May 2, 2012 at 3:58 am

The contrast is definitely very nice, and the flavors of potato and spicy falafel and tomato play together really well.

We’ve had this like three times in the past few days but now I am ready to have it again.

randi May 2, 2012 at 2:54 pm

I had a lot of leftover mashed potato not too long ago and thought about doing something like this but was afraid of it falling apart so I never did it. This looks really good. I love falafels but have never made them. Didn’t know you could buy a mix. Is the mix just for binding the ground chick peas together? There are a lot of middle eastern groceries around where I work so I should pick some up for the next batch of too much mashed potato.

We Are Never Full May 2, 2012 at 3:41 pm

ok, this is genius. i’m totally tucking this trick into the recesses of my mind for later use. of COURSE the falafel mix is perfect for oven-crisping (anything???). i wonder if it would work well with meat (i’m thinking chicken fingers for my little one). thanks so much for this innovative idea.

kitchenriffs May 2, 2012 at 4:59 pm

We really this – super flavor. A nice way to make mashed potatoes the star attraction of the meal. (They often are anyway, so why not go all the way and make them the main dish?) Really like the mix of textures and ingredients. And this is exactly how I like to play in the kitchen! Good post – thanks.

Marion May 3, 2012 at 1:35 am

Randi, there are plenty of just-add-water mixes available, and they mostly contain dried, ground chickpeas plus other ingredients (for instance, spices and dried onion), depending on the brand – this time we used the boxed mix from Fantastic World Foods, which has quite a nice flavor. Your neighborhood stores will definitely have something along these lines.

We Are Never Full, wow, thanks! In fact, I think this would work really well to coat chicken or fish. I like your chicken fingers idea a lot (although I cannot resist pointing out that chickens do not have fingers). We have been thinking of trying salmon dredged in falafel mix, and tilapia would probably be delicious too.

Kitchenriffs, thanks!

Valentina May 13, 2012 at 4:28 am

this is stunning!

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