Baked Sweet Potato Falafel Recipe

Baked Sweet Potato Falafel recipe from the Leon cookbook -made from mashed sweet potatoes, chickpea flour, spices, a nice amount of garlic and plenty of chopped cilantro.

Baked Sweet Potato Falafel

Do all you U.K. based readers know the Leon restaurants? I bet many of you do. I'm feeling a bit in the dark here. I learned of the fantastically successful Leon destinations while flipping through an Aussie food magazine the other day and ended up ordering the newly released Leon cookbook on the spot. I think we can all agree, it's a challenge to find natural food cookbooks that are full of great content and exceptionally well designed. Wait until you get a glimpse of this book. Written by chef/owner Allegra McEvedy, it's quirky, fantastic, fun, and takes all sorts of liberties with traditional book design. I'm highlighting the baked sweet potato falafel recipe here today, but it was hard for me to settle on a single recipe. The 300+ page book is full of the big-hearted, bold-flavored, seasonal, gutsy food the cafes are known for.

Baked Sweet Potato Falafel Recipe

Leon covers a lot of ground. It is divided into two major sections - ingredients and recipes. Essentially, you learn how to source great ingredients in the first part, and how to put them to use in the second part. The book includes a tear-out seasonality chart, an endearing fold-out European cheese map, all sorts of icons, funky fonts, and info-graphics throughout. You can have a glance at their menu to get a sense of the kind of recipes you'll find in the book - plenty for vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike. Lots of whole grains, an emphasis on minimally processed ingredients. Really great.

Baked Sweet Potato Falafel Recipe

I feel like this is a cookbook that will resonate with many, not only as a reference, but also as an object that was thoughtfully made by people who care about what they are doing. It would be a great gift to give to young people as they are going off to college, or striking out on their own. If I had this book when I was twenty-two it may not have taken me as long as it did to find a culinary realm I love exploring - mindful food that is full of flavor and fun and friendship.

Baked Sweet Potato Falafel Recipe

I'll finish up with a few notes about the baked sweet potato falafel recipe. These aren't your typical falafel, nor were they intended to be, just keep that in mind before you write in. These falafel are made with a mashed sweet potato and chickpea flour base, accented with a generous punch of spices, a nice amount of garlic and plenty of chopped cilantro. If you're looking for that crunchy, fried, falafel experience, this isn't it. But these are delicious in their own way. And the sesame seed sprinkle gives each one a little bit of crunch. The next time around I might actually give each falafel a dunk in some sort of egg bath, and then in the seeds for a bit more crunch and coverage. At Leon they are served as a mezze along with chopped tomatoes, pickles, and aioli.

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Baked Sweet Potato Falafel Recipe

These falafel are Leon's most popular veggie dish to date. They knew they wanted falafel on the menu, but chose not to have deep fryers. After some experimenting, this sweet potato and chickpea flour version was developed.

2 medium sweet potatoes (orange inside), around 700g or 1 1/2 pounds in total
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 small cloves of garlic, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 big handfuls of fresh cilantro/coriander, chopped
Juice of half a lemon
a scant cup (120g) gram /chickpea flour
a splash of olive oil
a sprinkling of sesame seeds
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 425F degrees (220C) and roast the sweet potatoes whole until just tender - 45 minutes to 1 hour. Turn off the oven, leave the potatoes to cool, then peel.

Put the sweet potatoes, cumin, garlic, ground and fresh coriander, lemon juice and gram/chickpea flour into a large bowl. Season well, and mash until smooth with no large chunks. Stick in the fridge to firm up for an hour, or the freezer for 20-30 minutes. When you take it out, your mix should be sticky rather than really wet. You can add a tablespoon or so more of chickpea flour if necessary (the water content of sweet potatoes varies enormously).

Reheat the oven to 400F/200C. Using a couple of soup spoons (put a well-heaped spoonful of mix in one spoon and use the concave side of the other to shape the sides) or a falafel scoop if you have one, make the mixture into falafelly looking things and put them on an oiled tray. Sprinkle sesame seeds on top and bake in the oven for around 15 minutes, until the bases are golden brown.

Makes about 18 falafel, enough for 4 - 6.

Reprinted with permission from Leon: Ingredients and Recipes by Allegra McEvedy. (Conran Octopus Ltd. 2008)

If you make this recipe, I'd love to see it - tag it #101cookbooks on Instagram!

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These look delicious! I may be unimaginative right now, but does anyone have suggestions on what to serve with these? Bonus points for being super easy to prepare. Thanks Heidi!


This book sounds wonderful-have to buy it.


What a crafty idea. Sounds tasty too. I love the llok of that book. Design is so important for a cookbook; it needs to be inspiring. Cooking is more than just making it, it is creating a dish with joy and love.

Marissa Makes

sounds delicious, great!

Liz Collet

This looks great and so easy. Think I'll give it a go by steaming the sweet potato. I am not such a fan of cooking food at such high temperatures and the steaming would also make it a bit of a quicker prep time. Fabulous as always!

Meghan (Making Love In The Kitchen)

This looks great and so easy. Think I'll give it a go by steaming the sweet potato. I am not such a fan of cooking food at such high temperatures and the steaming would also make it a bit of a quicker prep time. Fabulous as always!

Meghan (Making Love In The Kitchen)

The sesame seed topping looks great. And, I can't wait to see the book. Sounds like a great one.


I've had these before on a number of occasions and they truly are amazing! Fantastic that Allegra has a recipe book out, I am definitely going to make them!


Oh My Goodness! Those little mounds are so cheery! I wish I could snap my fingers and turn the pile of sweet potatoes currently acting as my table's centerpiece into them right now. And that books looks like great reading/cooking. Thank you for sharing Heidi!


Of Cos !!!! LEON is best fast food place ! best natural healthy food Soup is fantastic ! Stewed is amazing for winter to warm up your stomach. snacks are all different texture tasty!! once while i do eat chicken only at this place. real free range organic flavor! even Lamb meatballs is delicious ! even i'm not a meat eater. everything is just sooo good there. Definitely is a place for a picky eater like me.. also with lots of allergy and intolerant for something ingredients the best ever! and best place to chilled and seat with found furniture..


This looks delicious! I actually encountered a similar recipe in an old Indian cookbook which had pecans, corn, and cinnamon in the mix along with most of the ingredients you mention (no sesame seeds or garlic though). One of my favorite Indian recipes if anyone is looking for a variation. Now I can't wait to try this version!

Sarah (Coffee Beans and Curry Leaves)

Wow, I can't WAIT to make these! I love me some falafel! :)


Sweet potatoes are a favorite! This is such an interesting way to use them up.

The Duo Dishes

I'm ashamed to say I'm a Londoner who's never even heard of or seen a Leon - I really should look one up. These sound delicious. Any chance of a photo of the end product?


Hi Heidi I reviewed the original branch of Leon a few years ago for The Guardian. Whenever I visit Leon, I usually order these tasty and moreish sweet potato falafels. When I fist saw them on the menu, I thought they might be too sweet for a savoury main course dish, but thankfully they are not! I will definitely look out for the cookbook... Sejal


What a great twist on sweet potatoes! Can't wait to try these!


Heidi, you make me happy! I just found out Friday that I have a LONG list of food allergies, but I CAN have everything in this recipe... except for the lemon. I might swap out apple cider vinegar and see how that goes. Thank you for this! I'm going to try it tonight! :D -H


This looks delicious, I've never thought to combine sweet potatoes and chick peas. Can't wait to try it!


This book is such a treasure, my mother in law gave me a copy for Christmas. We have the cheese map on our kitchen wall!


I bring back a big box of sweet potatoes from my mother's every time I go home -- enough to share with friends and still have half-a-box left for improvising! Just contributed a sweet potato hummous recipe to a local cookbook. Tonight I'll try falafel!


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